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Author: Emily Combs

It’s Voting Time

If you’re feeling jaded or overwhelmed by all the election talk, or feeling like your vote doesn’t count,* it’s important to remember that this election isn’t just about polarized, big-name candidates. This election also impacts what goes on in your state. Even in your county.

To fellow North Carolinians: Do you have feelings about HB2 and other choices made by our current governor? What about schools, museums, and libraries? Do you want to make sure there’s a candidate representing your opinions in both the U.S. and State Senates? You don’t have to know everything about every candidate for every office, but this is your chance to speak up on issues that make a difference in your life and the lives of others. It’s not fun to stand in polling lines, but there is satisfaction in knowing you’ve done your part to try to improve our government for the greater good. So go vote!

North Carolina Resources
Polling Lookup
Sample Ballot Lookup

Wake County Resources
Early Voting Info

Durham County Resources
Early Voting Info

*This article does a great job explaining why the election is not rigged.

Getting the Best Out of PowerPoint

If you’ve worked in PowerPoint, you’ve probably had moments where you considered arm-sweeping everything off your desk in rage. Or you may have taken a milder route, loudly and repeatedly asking “WHY???” in frustration at your screen.

We’ve been working with PowerPoint a lot lately, which means we’ve needed to find workarounds for issues that pop up as we’re designing. Below is some information that will come in handy for those of you with more complex PowerPoint designs.

EPS v. PDF v. JPG v. PNG

We wanted to use vector files as much as possible to make sure that the images we were showing would scale clearly at any size. Whether you’re presenting on your iPad, a giant presentation screen at a conference, or in print, keeping your materials consistent in design and image quality is important. So goodbye (for now), JPG & PNG.

PDF is typically a smaller file size than EPS, and renders well when inserted as an image in other Microsoft Office applications such as Word, so we we started there. However, Mac users will find that closing your presentation and re-opening results in those perfectly beautiful PDFs being compressed something awful. Adding insult to injury is that any transparent backgrounds have turned white. You can tell PowerPoint not to compress your images, but does it heed that command? It sure doesn’t.

We found that EPS is the closest thing to best. While it increases the file size of your presentation, it generally results in the clearest image and does not get compressed the same way as PDFs. That said, it’s not perfect.

Color & Transparency Issues with EPS

Options ScreencapIf you’re facing color frustration, you will need to keep a couple things in mind. First, no matter what file type, use RGB. Second, when exporting your EPS from Adobe Illustrator, uncheck the box in your EPS options that reads “Include CMYK PostScript in RGB Files” so your colors don’t shift. Now you’re made in the shade! Wait, not quite.

If your EPS has a transparent background—or gradient—and it’s overlaid on another EPS, PowerPoint can create some weird visual issues. How weird? Previously non-existent borders appear, gradients shift, etc. The best solution we found is to save a really high resolution PNG of the overlaid image instead of a second EPS file.

Complicated, isn’t it? And it doesn’t end there. For example, if you convert from Keynote to PowerPoint, you’ll also notice that PowerPoint can apply extra and/or incorrect formatting to fonts. Have fun manually correcting them all, because that’s the only surefire way of making sure it’s right.

The Bottom Line

Despite its many frustrations, you can still build a unique and memorable presentation using PowerPoint. It’s the design that determines the success, not the tool. But the best fix for all the PowerPoint hassles? Use Keynote.

Let’s talk about the beauty of Keynote. With Keynote, you can forget the EPS v. PDF, etc. debate. If the quality of the original image is good, it’s going to render the way you want. You can even successfully copy and paste vector art right out of Adobe Illustrator onto a Keynote slide! (It’s also kind of a big deal for designers that Powerpoint doesn’t read the Adobe 1998 RGB color space properly and Keynote does. #nerdalert) We’ve also found that Keynote’s handling of typography is more elegant than PowerPoint. Plus you get a lot of great export options if you need to share your presentation as something other than a .key file.

While you won’t be able to use Keynote on PC, it’s simple UI and media advantages make it worth using if you have the option. If you don’t have that luxury, hopefully we’ve provided some information that will spare you from smashing your computer into a billion tiny pieces. We wish you luck.