PowerPoint 2013: Visualizations Part 3: Creating Infographics with SmartArt and Apps for Office

Editor’s Note:The following post was written by PowerPoint MVP Glenna Shaw.

PowerPoint 2013: Visualizations

Part 3: Creating Infographics with SmartArt and Apps for Office

In the previous two parts of this series, we discussed creating infographics specifically from data.  But infographics is not only about numerical data.  By definition, infographics is the graphical representation of information.  Information can include words, sentences, images, etc. as well as numbers.  SmartArt is specifically designed to create infographics by changing text into pictorial representations of concepts.  In this part of the series we’ll discuss elevating standard SmartArt to create unique and effective infographics.  We’ll also discuss some of the new apps that are available for Office 2013 and how you can take advantage of them to create some great infographics.  This article assumes you already know how to create and modify SmartArt.  It also assumes you’ve read all previous parts of this series.

Shady Sam has decided he’s going to offer some great financing options for hybrid cars.  These are the loan options depending on the buyer’s qualifications:

5 Year 4 Year 3 Year
    • 3%     • 2%     • 0%
    • 4%     • 3%     • 1%


In a typical presentation, you might see a SmartArt hierarchy list used to display this information.  This is leaps and bounds better than a bulleted list but once again, we find a graphic with incomplete context.  There is no ready indicator that these financing options are for hybrid cars only.  It doesn’t make the jump from information to knowledge.  We can easily improve on this SmartArt by simply changing it to a radial list and, staying consistent, use the leaf car as the fill for the main image.  As you can see, it’s a good start, but it still needs some work.

powerpoint1 image

To complete this SmartArt transformation, take the following steps:

  1. Click on the largest shape and change it to a rectangle shape.
  2. Rotate the picture by flipping it horizontally.
  3. Change the color to green.

We now have a complete infographic for the sales team meeting presentation.  However, this is also knowledge we want to share with prospective buyers.  And for that purpose we want an even more polished look to our infographic.  Perform these steps to improve the infographic even more:

  1. Change the leaf car fill to the same image you used for your hybrid car on the Air Quality – Hybrid Car Sales chart.
  2. Adjust the fill offsets and the size of your SmartArt rectangle until the aspect ratio is correct and the size is proportional with the rest of the graphic.
  3. Decrease the size of the percentage text to be slightly smaller than the loan text. 

image image 

We now have effective infographics for both the sales team meeting and for marketing to customers.

SmartArt is one of the best tools for creating infographics but, new in Office 2013, we have some exciting offerings in Apps for Office in the Microsoft Office Store.  To see what Apps are available:

  1. In PowerPoint 2013, click Insert.
  2. Click Apps for Office in the Apps group.
  3. Click See All.
  4. Click Featured Apps in the Apps for Office dialog window.

pp5 pp6

The featured apps that work with PowerPoint are listed.  Enter Pro Word Cloud (free app) in the search box and then install the app in PowerPoint 2013.  Learn more about Managing Apps for Office here.  To create a Word Cloud graphic:

  1. Enter a lot of relevant words.
  2. Select the words (don’t skip this step).
  3. Click Insert, Apps for Office, Pro Word Cloud.
  4. Choose your Word Cloud options in the Pro Word Cloud pane.
  5. Click Create Word Cloud.
  6. Right click and Copy/Paste the Word Cloud onto your slide or save the Word Cloud as an image and insert it.
  7. Use PowerPoint 2013’s picture tools to edit the image as desired.

pp7 pp8

We now have a fun Word Cloud infographic.  We can also use some of the visualization apps for Excel even though they’re not available for PowerPoint.  Just select the visualization created in Excel and copy/paste as an image into PowerPoint 2013.  I’ve shown the Gauge App and the Geographic Heat Map in my example above.

This completes part 3 of the series on Visualizations: Creating Infographics with SmartArt and Apps for Office.  In part 4 we’ll be adding motion to infographics.

About the author

Glenna Shaw is a Most Valued Professional (MVP) for PowerPoint and the owner of the PPT Magic Web siteand the Visualology blog. She is a Project Management Professional (PMP)
and holds certificates in Knowledge Management, Accessible InformationTechnology, Graphic Design, Cloud Computing and Professional TechnicalWriting.  Follow her on Twitter.

About MVP Monday

The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.

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