How to Illustrate Your Work?

Microsoft PowerPoint, or similar presentation tools (Keynote for Mac, Open Office Impress for Linux), are indispensable for scientific illustrations. Many times, the basis for the illustration is some image, Matlab figure, or screenshot that you would like to edit, annotate, or expand. In other cases, you need just to make some simple graphics or schematics.

Start by opening the PowerPoint, and removing everything from the page (CTRL-A to select all, and DEL to delete everything). Load image if needed:

  1. If you want to upload some saved image from the disk, press on the TAB Insert and choose “Picture” from the toolbar. Browse to your image and insert it. You may resize the image by dragging its corners, or to crop it (THE MOST USEFUL FUNCTION – available in all office products) by clicking on “Picture Tools” TAB, and “Crop” button. Pressing this button creates small black dragging bars on the boundaries of the image. You may drag those bars to remove unnecessary parts of the image. You need to click “Crop” button again to finalize cropping. p1By the way, additional multiple picture corrections and style changes are available on the same toolbar. You may play with compression, colors, contrast, brightness, shadows, and various boundaries. Make sure that you are familiar with all of the available options.
  2. To insert Matlab plot or image, go to the Figure menu “Edit”, and choose “Copy Figure” p2Then paste it (CTRL-V) to the PowerPoint. Crop the image (or plot) if needed.
  3. To make a screenshot, just press CTRL-PrntScr, and paste to the PowerPoint. Crop if needed.

If you want to change the order of appearance of images or other objects, you may send them forward or backward by clicking on them and using right-click menu: p3

Now, you could add annotations and additional graphics by using shapes palette: p4

Those shapes could be placed anywhere, resized (using corners dragging), rotated (using small green dot on top of the shape bounding box), combined together (CTRL-left click on all shapes and images that should be combined, right click menu – grouping) and , recolored, and transformed in many other ways (using Drawing Tools toolbar). You have full control over those shapes appearance (by modifying shadows, border color, filling material and color – all of that through Drawing tools toolbar, which appears when some shape is selected. Make sure that you are familiar with all possibilities when working with shapes.

Tip: Many times it is preferable to use MATLAB annotation tools instead of PowerPoint. Those tools are available in MATLAB Insert menu of the Figure window.

To copy your illustration to a Word document, it is a good idea to select and group everything first (CTRL-A, right click -> Group -> Group). Then copy the selected illustration by CTRL-C, and use special paste as a picture in Word. The reason not to use the regular Paste is because it may distort the object sizes due to the limitations of Word document.


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