Using the Select Tool in PowerPoint

game-diceI mentioned in a previous post that I make games for our staff for a variety of programs. Recently, I created a game called the pollinator game or the garden game, depending on who you ask. It is 48” x 36” and has lots of animals, insects, flowers, etc. It is colorful and hopefully fun for the participants. I used garden stones for the steps and for this version, I have plastic bee puppets for the game pieces. I have a collection of dice I bought that are in an assortment of colors and about 2’ (each side) in size.

I have a list of questions that are created by one or more educator along with a list of the correct answer. I make playing cards in InDesign® and print them on our color printer with four cards to a page. I have a template that is easily adapted to whatever game I am working with and if I have printed the game in the past, I have a copy of the cards in InDesign and Acrobat. The card covers (see below) reflect whatever game I am printing. Each card has a number on it that corresponds with the correct answer on the answer sheet. I then laminate the cards with our small project laminator and cut them into individual cards. I also print and laminate answer sheets and put them in a binder for easy access.


The game board starts from a board game template in PowerPoint®. I put a grass background and added the stones in a pattern that meandered around the board with some having sayings such as, 1 step back or jump two spaces. I then added the flowers, insects, animals, birds, bee hive, pond and bridge (see below). Each was its own layer, which created a 50+ layer file. Once finished, I saved it as a PDF (Adobe Acrobat®) and sent it to another office that hosts a plotter and can print 36” x 48” color documents. After that, I send it to UNH Printing Services to laminate. Once finished, I send it to the person who requested it and hope they have many chances to put it to use.


The reason I am writing about this is twofold. One, games are a great way to get people motivated, moving and helps them to learn. It is also fun and there is no reason not to have fun when you are learning. The second is that when the game was printed, it had several big white areas and we weren’t sure where they came from and clearly made the game unusable. I finally figured it out after looking online and speaking to one of our IT people who is really great with print issues and we were successfully able to print it, so I thought I would share with you in case you have similar issues in the future.

It turns out that the PowerPoint® file had several blank layers on it that didn’t show up until they were printed. The layers were in the back, but the printer printed them anyway. Here’s how you fix it:

  1. Open the file in PowerPoint®
  2. Look on the right side of the top ribbon for “Select”
  3. Click on “Selection Pane” to see all the layers (I had 184)
  4. The pane will appear on the right side with an eye next to each layer.
  5. If you have a few layers, click the eye next to each layer on at a time to see where your blank layers reside. In my case, because I had so many layers, it was easier to select, “hide all” and turn them on one at a time. It was a bit tedious, but worth it. I found three blank layers and wrote down their numbers to deal with when I finished.
  6. Once finished, I turned off those blank layers. I chose “select all” and grouped the rest of the layers. I moved the group off the background area. I then turned the other three on and selected them one at a time and removed them.
  7. You now have a file that will print without any blank spaces!

So, next time you are printing a PowerPoint file and you get those annoying blank spots or just want to remove extraneous layers that make the file larger than necessary, try using the “Select” button. I think you will find it a handy tool to use.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s