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If every presentation had a white background, your job as a PowerPoint content creator would be a lot easier. But you'd probably get bored and quit your job, so it's better that this task provides some challenge for you. The first illustration (click to enlarge) shows the results of a search for some pumpkin images to include in a Fall-themed presentation. The clipart image top-left needs no extra work at all, because you can download it from Clipart.com as a transparent .png file—a file format that PowerPoint knows well. You'll be able to use that pumpkin against any background.

In today's age of digital photography when Photoshop is used as a verb, it is all too easy to forget that there are two basic flavors of graphics: vector and bitmap. Bitmaps are the sexy ones—the photographs that you take with your camera phones and email to all of your friends. But vector objects—clipart and objects drawn in Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW—are often more useful in creative presentations. This is especially so if you are aware of a little-known trick in PowerPoint.

The first illustration (click to enlarge) shows a creative party invitation created in PowerPoint for electronic delivery to a group of friends. The artwork is one of hundreds of selections available at Clipart.com, and as you can see in the Animation task pane, it is set to make its entrance from the left side of the screen. But it is all one object, so it will enter the slide all as one—not very imaginative...

But this piece of clipart is different than a photo—it is a collection of shapes and objects, grouped together, saved as a WMF file (one of the file formats you can specify in a search on Clipart.com). And as WMF files can be grouped, so too can they be ungrouped. PowerPoint's Group and Ungroup commands can be found off the Draw menu that resides lower-left on the Drawing toolbar. You will likely need to apply the Ungroup command twice—once to tell PowerPoint to treat it like a native Office object, and a second time to tell it to separate the objects.

Once you do, however, the second illustration shows the myriad possibilities, as each of the pieces of this graphic can be individually animated. The confetti is falling down from the top, the balloons are floating up from the bottom, and at the end the right glass will rotate just enough to toast the left glass. We've even added a ding sound to complete the toast, which we admit is hokey, but hey, it's a party invitation...