Make PowerPoint and Excel documents look good with Adobe Illustrator

well designed diagram

There are two different worlds. There is the world of business and commerce which is fast-pace, practical, utilitarian. And the other is the marketing message which needs to be simple, easily digestible and attractive to the customers. Graphic designers sit between these too worlds.

Often our clients will supply documents from the world in which they work. These will invariably be in Microsoft Office applications that everyone uses: Word, PowerPoint and Excel being the most common. The daily challenge is to take raw data from the business world and translate it into accessible and simple messages that the client’s customers can easily digest.

The trick is to keep the data in tact from the Microsoft documents and convert it into an Adobe document (in this case Illustrator) where it can be transformed and edited as required.

badly designed diagram

Here is an example of content that has been supplied to a designer from Microsoft PowerPoint

How to copy and paste between PowerPoint and Excel and Illustrator

When you paste stuff from Microsoft software into Illustrator they usually come with a load of extraneous rubbish. The paths are also difficult to ungroup. This is because they are bound by a Clipping Mask or Masks which you need to release.

As you can see in the video below, once the elements are pasted into Illustrator, go Object > Clipping Mask > Release (Mac: Cmd/Opt-7; PC Ctrl/Alt-7). You then may need to Ungroup the objects, go Object > Ungroup (Mac: Cmd/Shift-G; PC Ctrl/Shift-G).

Now you have all the data from your client’s document in Illustrator when you can change the font, edit the text, change the colors and generally improve the visual representation of the information in anyway you see fit.

If you can’t see the above video please visit my Making Powerpoint and Excel documents look good video tutorial at Vimeo.

Remember, another bonus is that these are all vector graphics and can therefore be scaled up and down without any loss of quality.

If you still can’t paste into Illustrator even though you have copied from PowerPoint, simply drag an object (a box, for example) from Illustrator onto your desktop and then do it. I don’t know why this works but it does.


Do you find yourself struggling in Microsoft Office hell and have any tips on how to make the world a more beautiful place with Adobe’s Creative Suite? Share your thoughts with us and, if you liked this article, please recommend it to the world by tweeting or clicking one of the social buttons below.

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