Build a Scolling Quotation Display

Introduction: Build a Scolling Quotation Display

About: I've been a president at two colleges and currently provide consulting services for small businesses, non-profits, and educational organizations. In a previous life, I was a human factors engineer and human ...

If you like collecting quotations like I do, then this instructable is for you. This instructable will show you how to put together a way to display your quotes for all to see, using things you probably already have around the house.

To complete this project, you’ll need the following things:
- A supply of quotations
- An LCD picture frame (purchased or built from scratch; I paid about $40 for mine)
- Some photographs
- Microsoft PowerPoint 2007

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Step 1: Selecting Quotations

Any kind of quote will do, but because the picture frame scrolls through the images that will contain the quotes it works best if you keep the quotes short. Longer quotes, although interesting, may not remain on screen long enough to be read. If you have a number of longer quotations, see "Some Final Notes" at the end of this instructable for tips that you can consider for longer display times.

Store the quotes in a word processing document; you will be copying the quotes and pasting them into PowerPoint slides in a bit.

Step 2: Setting Up PowerPoint

This example uses PowerPoint 2007, although it should work in other versions.

Step a (first image)
Look at the sample images stored on your LCD picture frame. For my frame, all of the sample images were 856x480 pixels. To determine this, right click on the image file, and select Properties. You should see a number of tabs, one of which should be called “Details.” Click on the details tab; under Image you should see a width and height. Write this down or keep the window open, because we will use it to set up PowerPoint.

Take the smaller of the two numbers (usually the height), and divide that by the larger number. In my case, 480/856=0.5607. Checking the table below (which shows common screen image ratios), I can see that the native images on my LCD picture frame are just about in 16:9 format.

Format          Ratio
4:3                 0.7500
16:9               0.5625
16:10             0.6250

Step b (second, third, and fourth images)
Open PowerPoint, and start a new presentation. On the ribbon, click Design, Page Setup. In the setup dialog box, select the image format that matches the native format of your LCD picture frame. We do this because it helps prevent the software driving the frame from cropping or stretching the images unnecessarily. Click Home on the ribbon.

Now, look for the New Slide button. In the lower-right corner of the button, there should be a small arrow. Click on the arrow, which should bring up a bunch of options for slide layouts. Select the Blank Slide.

Step c (fifth image)
At this point, your presentation should have two slides: The initial default title slide, and your newly inserted blank slide. Click on the first slide (the title slide), click your right mouse button, and select delete. You should be left with a single blank slide in your presentation, sized to the native image size of your LCD picture frame.

Step 3: Bringing in Images

Step a (first image)
Click “Insert” on the ribbon, and then click on the “Picture” button. Browse to the location of the picture you want to use, select it, and click OK.

In many cases, the picture won’t fill the slide because it’s in a different format than the native format for the LCD picture frame. Thus, we’ll need to resize the image to fit. At the same time, we don’t want to distort the image either. Here’s the most straightforward approach:

Step b (second and third images)
Move the image all the way to the right edge of the PowerPoint slide, then up until the top of the image aligns with the top of the slide. The image should “snap” to the edges of the slide.

Grab the lower-left corner of the image and drag it to the left-center edge of the slide. By grabbing the lower-left corner (or any corner, for that matter), you maintain the aspect ratio of the image and you can resize it without distortion. Again, the image should snap to the edge of the slide.

Step c (fourth, fifth, and sixth images)
With the picture still selected, click on the “Crop” button. The circle-shaped resize handles at the image’s corners should change to crop handles. Grab the bottom-center crop handle with your mouse, and push up until it snaps onto the bottom of the slide.

A word about cropping the images: When you crop images, you may lose parts of the image that make it a pleasing composition. Feel free to drag any of the crop handles and move the photo around until you get the image looking the way you want. Just make sure when you’re finished, the image is aligned with the edges of the PowerPoint slide.

Step d (seventh, eighth, and ninth images)
Select the image, and click the Format button under Picture Tools on the ribbon. Select the “Compress Pictures” button. In the Compress Pictures dialog, choose “Options.” Set up the Compression Options like the image below and click OK. You’ll only have to make these settings the first time. Finally, click OK on the Compress Pictures dialog. This makes the image smaller, and removes the cropped portions of the picture, leaving a slide-filling image.

Step 4: Add Your Quote

Step a (first image)
Click Insert on the ribbon, and click on the text box button. Select a font, font color, and size that make the quote readable. Move to your word processing file with your quotes, highlight and copy the quotation you want to use, and then use "Paste Special, Unformatted Text" to paste the quotation into the text box.

Step b (second image)
Resize the text box as necessary, and place it in a good location on the image. For the quote here I used 24-point Arial Black in white (I have seen the quote attributed to Will Rodgers, Fred Rogers, and Wynn Catlin; I think Will is most likely but I’m amused by the incongruity of attributing it to Mr. Rogers!).

Repeat this process for your quotes. See the “Final Notes” for some suggestions to make this go more quickly.

One important note: Save often! There are two types of computer users: Those who have lost data, and those who haven’t lost data yet.

Step 5: Exporting the Slides for the LCD Picture Frame

Now that your slides are all complete, it’s time to get them into a format that your LCD picture frame can use. Most often, this is a JPEG image.

This couldn’t be simpler.

1. Click on the Office Button. (first image)

2. Select File, Save As, Other formats. (second image)

3. In the “Save as Type:” drop-down, select JPEG and click Save. (third image)

4. PowerPoint will prompt: “Do you want to export every slide in the presentation or only the current slide?” Select “Every slide.” (fourth image)

5. PowerPoint will report that every slide has been saved as a separate file, and report the save location. (fifth image)

6. Copy the saved images onto the media that works in your LCD picture frame, and start it up. You’re the proud owner of a scrolling LCD quote frame!

Step 6: Some Final Notes

There are several things you can do to make this process a bit quicker:

1. PowerPoint 2007 has an option under the Insert ribbon called “Photo Album.” This will bring in many photos at once, into different slides. However, it brings in all the images in 4:3 format. I haven't found a way to change this. If you change the slide layout of the Photo Album to something else (like 16:9) PowerPoint stretches the images to fit.

2. If you insert all of your images, resize them, and crop, you can run the “Compress Pictures” process (explained in Step 3, Bringing In Images) once; it will fix all of the images on all of the slides at once.

3. Once you add your first quote, select the text box and copy it. Then, move to each slide and select “Paste.” This will place a formatted text box on each slide, in the same location from which it was copied. This is a great place to start. One caveat: When pasting your quotes from your word processing program, use “Paste Special” and choose unformatted text. That preserves your text box formatting.

4. My LCD picture frame doesn’t let you change the display time for pictures, and some of the transitions happen too quickly to allow you to read the entire quote. You can do what I did, which was to make two copies of every slide. PowerPoint is creative in its naming; the slides are called Slide1.jpg, Slide2.jpg, et cetera. I named my copies Slide1a.jpg, Slide2a.jpg. The file system sorts the original and the copy together when the files are named this way, so every quote is displayed twice with an intervening transition.

5. If you don’t have a lot slides suitable for quotes, consider visiting a site like Interface Lift, which has a wide range of images in a variety of formats for desktop wallpapers. Chances are, you’ll be able to find images in a format suitable for the native format of your LCD picture frame.

6. Finally, experiment with fonts and type colors. You can even use transparent fills in the text box to make the text stand out a bit more if your slide has a complex background.

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