This article was originally posted on Online Tech Tips (Copyright 2007, Assem Kishore)
Although PowerPoint is electronic slide creation software, printable handouts serve an important role both for the presenter and an audience. In this article, we’ll discuss your options for creating great PowerPoint handouts and purpose behind doing so in the first place.
Why Create PowerPoint Handouts?
Since PowerPoint is a software program designed to create electronic slide presentations, it may appear counter-intuitive to create printable handouts from your finished presentation. However, there are three main reasons you should consider creating handouts.
First, if your presentation’s content is particularly complex, offering printed handouts to your audience can help your audience members keep track of where you are in the presentation to keep them informed and up to speed.
Second, every audience member can walk away from your presentation with the handouts for inspection later. This way, you don’t have to rely on your audience members’ memories to ensure they understood the message of your presentation.
Finally, if your presentation has any call to action items in it, printed handouts can remind your audience not only about the fact there is a call to action but also what they action was. This can help ensure that your presentation has a bigger impact on your audience again without having to rely on the audience’s memory.
How to Create PowerPoint Handouts
Open any PowerPoint presentation you have created and click on the View tab on the Ribbon. With the View tab active, click on the button labeled Handout Masterin the section titled Presentation Views.
You’ll notice that there is a new tab on the Ribbon labeled Handout Master. This is the tab that contains all of the handout options available to you in PowerPoint. Notice that by default, PowerPoint places six slides per page. Although this is usually a good choice, you need to decide whether this is the best layout for your handouts.
If your slides contain very basic information in large fonts, you may opt to change the number of slides per page to nine. If your slides contain detailed information such as charts or small type, you should choose a lower number of slides per page such as four or two.
Rarely should you choose one slide per page unless your slides contain very detailed information that is vital to the presentation. To change the number of slides per page, click on the button labeled Slides Per Page and make your choice.
Another important choice to make when it comes to PowerPoint handouts is the orientation of the page. By default, PowerPoint offers you a portrait page orientation.
However, since PowerPoint slides are almost always wider than they are tall, landscape orientation makes more sense. To change the orientation of your slides from portrait to landscape, click the button labeled Handout Orientation and choose Landscape from the menu.
To the far right of the Ribbon, you will notice a button labeled Page Setup. Much like a Word document, this is where you can change the margins and dimensions of the page.
How you change these variables for your handouts should be determined by how your slides are laid out and what information each slide contains. Make sure your slides are readable based on how small of a font you used and the complexity of the content on the slides.
On the Placeholders section of the Ribbon, you can choose to add several options to your PowerPoint handouts including a Header, Footer, Date, and Page Number. A header or footer is a great place to put the title of your presentation and your name so people will know who created the handouts and who delivered the presentation.
Page numbers are a matter of preference but make a great way to help the audience find specific slides since you have a way to refer to which page a slide resides. Adding a date to your handouts is a good idea so people remember when they saw you give your presentation.
The Edit Theme section of the Ribbon offers you an opportunity to setup the basic theme of your handouts. Keep in mind, however, that this will not change the theme of your electronic version of your presentation.
It turns out that themes that look great on a screen do not always print well. Using the Edit Theme section of the Ribbon, you can change the theme to a more printer-friendly version.
When choosing a theme for your handouts, remember that color slides do not look the same on paper when printed in black and white. Test your handout theme on a monochrome printer before making your final decision.
The Background section of the Ribbon lets you change the background printed on the handouts. Keep in mind that choosing a background for your handouts does not change the electronic version of your presentation; these backgrounds are applied to your handouts only.
Generally, few people choose a background for PowerPoint handouts because it creates an unprofessional appearance, detracts from the content of your printed slides, and wastes toner/ink when printed.
For these reasons, choose wisely if you decide to add a background to your PowerPoint handouts. Notice that there is also a button to Hide BackgroundGraphics while working on your handouts.
When you are done choosing the handout options for your PowerPoint presentation, click the Close Master View button and you are done. If you take the advice offered above seriously about creating readable and functional handouts, you should now have a nice set of PowerPoint handouts to offer your audience members.