A quick guide to using PowerPoint and Keynote

Keynote or PowerPoint

Paul Brand

Creative Artworker

Posted on March 21, 2016

Two products currently lead in the world of presentation software. Most people in traditional office environments know and love PowerPoint while Keynote tends to be the preferred choice of creative professionals and agencies. If you were to ask which product you should use for a presentation, the answer you receive would very likely depend on the background and preference of the person you talk to.

These days, with more people opting for Apple technology, on which Keynote comes as standard, you’ll likely come across both. This is proving increasingly problematic. You may receive presentations from clients or colleagues in either PowerPoint or Keynote formats, or be expected to produce them.

So which should you be using? And how can you use them well?

Let’s run through some key considerations.

Where to start?

Before you start creating any form of presentation, it’s worth asking a few simple questions. Now’s the time to establish how to approach this project and what the best solutions might be, for yourself or your client.

  1. Does your client want to be able to amend the presentation themselves?
  2. Are they using a PC or Mac?
  3. What version of PowerPoint or Keynote are they using?
  4. What are they using the presentation for?
  5. What screen size are they presenting on?
  6. Is animation required and to what extent?

With those answers in front of you, it should be easier to spot any potential problems as we talk through common usage issues.

Operating systems

PowerPoint is available for PC and Mac and works on both, whereas Keynote is an Apple product. It works well on a Mac or iPad, but can cause problems if you’re a PC user, or need to show your presentation on one.

There are some workarounds to this, however. If you need to show a Keynote presentation on a PC, you can:

  1. Export the Keynote file and save as a PowerPoint presentation. However, this can break some of the features, such as animation, and so may defeat the point of producing your presentation in Keynote in the first place.
  2. Export your file, save it as a QuickTime video document, and then select Manual Advance in the drop-down menu as the playback mode.
  3. Turn your presentation into a trusty and reliable pdf file, but that will only give you a flat, static slide.

Best solution:
It’s best to check that your presentation software of choice matches or is compatible with the device you know it will be viewed on. However, simple presentations without animation are more transferable.

Typeface usage

Different versions of PowerPoint don’t always have the same selection of fonts included in the software package.

This can cause problems when using your presentation across multiple computers that have different versions of the software installed. Your presentation might look fantastic on your computer, but when you forward it to a colleague, their version may not have that beautiful typeface installed. They’ll see a clunky substitution, throwing out all the copy and ruining your design.

Again, there is a way round this. When supplying your presentation, you can save a version of the document that has the fonts embedded, but this feature is only available on the PC version not on Mac. The other downside is that your colleague will not be able to amend the document, and it will increase the file size.

Keynote software is more standardised, so as long as you use a system font you won’t hit font issues when switching between Macs and iPads.

Best solution: Use a typeface that you know all your colleagues have. Companies that have a brand identity are likely to have purchased typefaces with a multi-user licence and distributed them throughout the business, which will help. Alternatively, play it safe and go for an old faithful, like Arial, which comes installed on most computers as standard.

Slide templates

If you’re not confident with designing and producing your own page layouts, both PowerPoint and Keynote have built-in templates that are easy to use. I find that PowerPoint templates look a bit dated, whereas Keynote’s seem to have a cleaner fresher feel about them, but I guess it all comes down to personal taste.

You’ll also find third party websites that allow you to download different templates, so it’s worth looking around rather than just sticking with the same old template that everyone uses.

Best solution: Getting an agency like us to design and produce a branded template that you can use to create multiple presentations is always a sound investment. You’ll better be able to communicate your brand identity and have much more control over layout, imagery, colour and typeface usage.

Matching colours

This is a frequent frustration. You create an RGB colour in PowerPoint or Keynote, then import an RGB image and find the colours don’t match visually on screen, even though the RGB breakdowns are exactly the same.

This is usually caused by the RGB colour profiling that is allocated to the image when using software like Photoshop or Illustrator and so again, may be more of an issue if you’re switching between operating systems and software.

Best solution: To rectify this problem, try this:


  1. Open your image in Photoshop
  2. Edit > Convert to Profile
  3. Under destination space,
    select ‘sRGB IEC61966-2.1 Profile’
  4. Save your file
    (I like to save my images as .png files)
  5. Place image into PowerPoint/Keynote


  1. Open your image in Illustrator
  2. Edit > Assign Profile
  3. Under Profile,
    select ‘sRGB IEC61966-2.1 Profile’
  4. Save your file
  5. Place image into PowerPoint/Keynote

Note: Remember to allocate this profile every time you open or save your image.


Unless you and your clients are all using Apple tech, chances are, using Keynote will throw up a few issues. And this is a shame, as, to be honest, as we much prefer it.

The reality is that Microsoft still own the majority of the marketplace, and as PowerPoint can be used on both PCs and Macs, it’s often the easier choice. You can bypass predictable, outdated templates by getting an agency to design you a custom, branded template that you can use every time, and by being careful with your font choices, you can usually avoid any major problems.

As a creative agency, our heart still belongs to Keynote. By asking the right questions at the beginning of your project, you may find that cross-compatibility problems won’t be an issue. If everyone’s using Apple products, take advantage!