PowerPoint trick to remove the borders around pictures to prevent overlap (using transparent color)

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I am frequently engaged in creating PowerPoint presentations (or Word documents) that contain many pictures. Logos, screenshots, symbols, photographs are typically combined to create a pleasing and effective visualization. One of life’s many small annoyances is that many of the pictures I use have a white border around them that cause ugly overlaps when combined with other pictures. For example the typical picture of a circle

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will in fact be a square.

This is usually revealed when you try to combine the circle with other pictures:

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This article tells you of the little trick that PowerPoint offers us to manipulate pictures to have this border made transparent.

Some other examples of the situation I am talking about:

Bringing the man and woman together on equal terms, rather than one taking precedence over the other:

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Showing just the pointer, instead of having the pointer icon overlap part of the screenshot:

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And even showing a performance in the theatre – rather than a blank display of an empty stage:

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Many tools have a feature that help deal with these challenges. I recently discovered that PowerPoint can do it too – which is convenient as that is for me usually the tool in which I run into the pictures with unwanted borders causing undesirable overlap.

The steps you have to go through are quite simple:

1. Double click the picture; this will cause the Picture Tools ribbon to be displayed

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2. Click on the menu option Recolor and choose Set Transparent Color

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3. A pencil like cursor appears. Now click on the area in the picture that should be rendered transparent.

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Immediately, all pixels in the picture with the exact same color (RGB code) as the area that you click on will be regarded and rendered as transparent.

Note: a picture can have only one ‘transparent color’. Also note: you may lose pixels with the selected color in other parts of the picture too, because they are now also transparent. This can be dealt with by adding a rectangle with that specific color in the background behind the picture.

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PLSQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle OpenWorld, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Devoxx and OBUG. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

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