Regardless of the software used to create business slide shows, many people refer to these presentations as "PowerPoints," but such colloquial uses could confuse your customers or be cause for alarm for Microsoft. On the other hand, referring to PowerPoint correctly according to Microsoft's guidelines enables you to refer to the trademarked product without paying for licensing. Whether you're in the business of designing presentations, creating software or templates for them or simply using them in your day-to-day dealings, using "PowerPoint" according to Microsoft's guidelines can help you distinguish your brand while avoiding trouble.

Proper Usage

It may be common practice to use "PowerPoint" as a common noun or even a verb. For instance, you might ask a coworker or assistant to "powerpoint" a meeting outline for you or send you the "powerpoints" from the last training. According to Microsoft, this goes against the trademark usage of the name PowerPoint. Instead, ask, "Could you create a PowerPoint presentation for me?" or "Please send me those PowerPoint slides."

Not Possessive or Plural

Adding an "s" to the end of the name PowerPoint, either with or without an apostrophe, is unacceptable according to Microsoft. If you're referring to multiple slide shows, for example, say "PowerPoint presentation" or "PowerPoint slides" rather than "PowerPoints." Similarly, rather than talking about "That PowerPoint's slides," say, "The slides in that PowerPoint presentation" to comply with the trademark rules provided by Microsoft.

Using in Product Names

Perhaps your business provides a product or service that works with Microsoft Office PowerPoint software. Avoid using the name PowerPoint in your business, product or service name, as doing so violates the trademark rules. In addition, you may not use a variation of the name that might be confusing or misleading, such as "Power Point," and don't use the name Microsoft or any of the company's other trademark-protected names to represent your business. Microsoft also prohibits creating any graphic or design out of the PowerPoint trademark or using the name or trademark in any of your logos.

Describing Compatibility

It's acceptable to mention that your product or service is compatible with PowerPoint software, provided you don't use misleading language that infers that Microsoft endorses or produces your business or product. For instance, while you may advertise "Creative Backgrounds - for use with PowerPoint software," you may not offer your product as "Creative PowerPoint Backgrounds." In addition, avoid using the PowerPoint name as part of your website address.