Export all presentation text

Have you ever wanted to export all of the text in a presentation? There are several reasons for doing this:

* To repurpose the text to a report or other document
* To give a presentation a makeover, starting with just the text
* To use as notes during delivery

If all of your text is in text placeholders

If, and only if, all of the text is in text placeholders, this is an easy task. In PowerPoint 2003, choose File>Send To>Microsoft Office Word. In PowerPoint 2007, choose Application button> Publish> Create Handouts in Microsoft Office Word. In PowerPoint 2010, choose File> Save & Send> Create Handouts> Create Handouts. In PowerPoint 2013, choose File> Export, Create Handouts, then click the Create Handouts button.

In the dialog box that opens, choose the Outline Only option and click OK. Word opens with your text. You can now reformat it in any way you want.

If you have text in text boxes and shapes

But what if you have text in text boxes and shapes? You may need this text as well. In fact, this may be just the text that you’re trying to reformat.

First, look at my dummy presentation, which I created with labels to help me troubleshoot any problems.

dummy presentation

dummy presentation

The solution involves converting the presentation to a PDF file and then extracting the text from the PDF. Here are the steps:

1. Download PDF995, a free PDF creator, supported by ads. (You can remove the ads for $9.95. Paying for the software also entitles you to technical support, which I’ve used more than once.) Another option is PrimoPDF. I used PDF995 to test these steps.
2. In your presentation, choose File> Print. Choose PDF 995 from the list of printers. (This is how you use the program to create PDF files.) Save the file. Adobe Reader opens with your new PDF file.

new PDF file in Adobe Reader 7.0

new PDF file in Adobe Reader 7.0

3. Do one of the following:

* Choose File> Save as Text to create a text file from the PDF. This will extract all of the text in the document. However, you may have some unusual characters that you need to delete. (Look at the 2 small boxes in the text below.)

text file from the PDF

text file from the PDF

*Choose View> Page Layout> Continuous (or choose the Continuous button at the lower-left corner of the application window). Click before the first character. If you don’t see the Select tool (look for an I-beam), choose Tools> Basic> Select. Drag downward, waiting until the document scrolls, until you reach the end of the document. (For some reason, this process is slow and clunky.) With the entire document selected, copy to the Clipboard. Open Notepad, and paste. You can see the result below. It’s very clean.

result in Notepad

result in Notepad

I’d be interested to hear in your results. Leave a comment!

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23 comments to Export all presentation text

  • […] Would you like to export even text in text boxes? See my tip, “Export all presentation text.” […]

  • Will McKenzie

    Hi Ellen, thank you SO much for this tip on on how to extract the text from a powerpoint presentation.

    The continuous trick will save me hundreds of hours. THANKS.

  • Wow, that’s a lot of hours! I’m glad to help. If you haven’t signed up for my PowerPoint Tips Newsletter, I recommend it so you don’t miss new tips as they come out. There’s a sign-up button on every page.

  • Simon H

    Do you know a way of exporting all the text from PowerPoint 2007 – but including the slide notes?

  • Will McKenzie

    Hi Simon. I have just worked out that you can, from Powerpoint, ‘Send to’ the document to Word choosing ‘Notes below slides’. This creates a word document with each powerpoint slide on one page, with the notes typed out below. Then use Ellen’s technique of printing or saving the word document to a pdf. Set the pdf to ‘continuous’ view, ‘Select All’, copy and then paste into Notepad, then ‘Edit’ ‘Select All’ and paste into Word. Phew. This method includes the text ‘slide 1’, ‘slide 2’ e.t.c. which can be useful.

  • Jonesy

    So, I just wanted to leave the method that I just discovered. None of the options I read online worked for me since all the text in my presentation was white on black and it was ALL textbox text. And when I tried the above methods the best I got was a giant block of text that had no spaces and was improperly interpreted and was basically just a mess. So here’s what I did:

    Dragged the pptx file to my Google Drive. I made sure that the convert to Google Docs checkbox WAS SELECTED. Once the presentation had been uploaded and converted to a Google Doc, I opened it and went to File then Download As then Plain Text, and that was that. Any text editor should be able to open the file and there should be no wierdness at all since the formatting has all been stripped.

    Anyway, thought I’d share. It saved me loads and loads of time.

  • That’s a great tip. Thanks for sharing it! I often see presentations that were created solely with text boxes and they are almost always a mess.

  • Ann T

    Wonderful tip! Ir’s amazing what you can hack with Google docs!

  • John W

    thanks so much for this tip…you have saved me sooo much time!
    To expand on your method for selecting the ‘clean’ text in the PDF by scrolling down, you can start selecting and then use the shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+END to select to the end without having to slowly scroll through the whole lot.

  • Rick

    Thanks Ellen and Jonesy. The Google Docs tip is wonderful and exactly what I needed! Isn’t it peculiar that select all, copy, paste of these textboxes isn’t natively functional in Office? Boggles the mind 😀 Should be a Paste Special option.

    Thanks again! I’ll be telling all my friends 🙂

  • Brian Hunt

    Great, simple tip 🙂 I used the original export to pdf then save to word version which worked find and saved me days of work. I’ve not tried the google drive version – I’m on a client site with restricted internet access.

  • Pat Toura


    I hope to keep the outline formating in Word. My text is not in “text boxes” but “save as” and “publish to” both corrupt the formatting a little bit and in different ways. Copy and paste of the outline also corrupts the formatting (maybe a 3rd version, not sure).

    Why not keep in ppt and print the outline from there?: I wanted to get access to move the margins and insert some spaces (and possibly insert some new notes that don’t necessarily need to go into the ppt doc). Thank you for any suggestions.

  • Faisal Jan

    thanks for the hint… had saved me a lot of time.

  • Margo Putzeys


  • Amy

    Thanks for this tip, is very useful! But I have a problem because I have a Mac, not a PC with Windows, so I can’t download PDF995. Is there any option to do this with Mac?
    Tank you so much!!

  • Amy, there are definitely programs for the Mac that can create PDF files. And you can probably save the presentation to a PDF format from within PowerPoint.

  • Ahmed

    Thank you very much for your help !
    You’re a great person , you’ve saved me a lot of time .

  • Stephen

    Hi thanks for this, looking at PDF995 is a windows based application, I use a MAC and have Adobe Acrobat installed can I use this instead?

    Also I have included different quiz’s in my presentation and this is working fine. My next step is to make the boxes mandatory, in other words they will not be able to progress to the next slide until they select the correct answer, and then link them to a final report based on how many attempts they took to get it right and then print a summary of quiz and score.

    How do I go about this, I found some instructions on another website but they don’t seem to be working.

    Thank you in advance

  • Akson

    Sorry, it does not work for Arabic/Persian language texts.

  • Domas

    Wooow thank you. It helped me so much

  • Louise

    Thank you – I’ve tried (& failed) a few times to find a way to do this, since they introduced this type of text box. This is a simple and effective work around.

  • Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

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