Presentations are printed more often than we realize, but we rarely design for printing in mind. Although, I’ve had two clients who created presentations only for print: one was creating a brochure for sales reps and the other was presenting to potential investors at a meeting around a table.
Even if you don’t plan to print the presentation, you may send it to others who will print it. You certainly want to make sure that the results will be satisfactory.
Often, the presentation is printed in grayscale, not in color. Your presentation may look entirely different when printed in grayscale. To test out the result, click the Color/Grayscale button on the Standard toolbar. In 2007, go to View tab> Color/Grayscale group> Grayscale. You may be surprised at the results! To return to color, click the button again; it changes based on the color state you’re viewing.
Here, I’ve created a test slide using a gradient background. On the left you see the original; on the right you see the slide in grayscale.
Notice that PowerPoint removed the background and switched the color of the text. Even if you format the background with a bitmap image, that image will disappear in grayscale. Removing the background makes a certain amount sense, as it ensures legibility and saves lots of ink. But your slide may look so different, that you may be unhappy with the result. So look before you leap!
Converting to PDF
One of the important considerations is that many people convert a presentation to Adobe PDF format before printing. For example, conference organizers do this for the book they give attendees. Therefore you need to consider how the presentation will translate to PDF format. And not all PDF converters get the same results. If your presentation may end up as a PDF file, you should test the results. The PDF format especially has problems with semi-transparent objects, which may become solid or hatched. Note the checks on the semi-transparent oval, where it overlaps the text and white border.
In this case, you’ll get the best results if you use a different technique and avoid semi-transparency altogether.
If you use fonts that are not universally available, you should embed them. If you send the presentation to someone else for printing, your fonts will not appear properly. To embed fonts, choose Tools> Options and click the Save tab. (In 2007, choose Office button> PowerPoint Options and click the Save category.) Check the Embed TrueType Fonts check box. Then choose the first option, which embeds only characters in use. This option reduces the size of the file.
Here you see problems with the title and the text box at the lower left.
Other possible problems
Some people have reported problems with graphics that have a transparent background, such as the cookie on the left. However, my cookie came through with its transparency intact.
Another problem sometimes reported is inserted objects not appearing. The pink shape with the white square around it was created in Paint and then inserted using the Insert>Object feature. However, it came through fine, even on another computer.
If you’ll be printing, the procedure is simple. Choose File> Print. (In 2007, choose Office button> Print.) The display in the Print What drop-down list determines what will print; the default is Slides. For handouts, better options are Handouts and Notes Pages. You can also choose File>Send To > Microsoft Office Word to import the presentation into Word. (In 2007, choose Office button> Publish> Create Handouts in
Microsoft Office Word.) This gives you more flexibility with your format.
Remember that printing a presentation is no substitute for the presentation itself, because your speaking is missing.