By: Geetesh Bajaj
Last Updated: March 3rd 2009
Beyond slides, PowerPoint offers both Handouts and Notes that can be viewed, edited or printed along with a presentation. For many PowerPoint users, both Handouts and Notes are under-used features. That in itself is very unfortunate, because both these elements can make the entire presentation experience more complete and enriched. In this article, we'll look at Handouts - Notes will be discussed in a future article.
Handouts are basically thumbnails of slides printed together on a sheet of paper - such layouts can be customized to suit specific requirements. By default, PowerPoint (version 2002) offers choices to include 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 slide thumbnails per Handout page - some layouts, such as the one for 3 thumbnails also provide some space next to the thumbnail for notes to be written/printed. PowerPoint 97 provides layouts for only 2, 3 and 6 slides per Handout page - while PowerPoint 2000 allows 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 slides per Handout page.
Handouts are often printed to be sent for review to those who matter before an actual presentation is shown to an audience. During the presentation itself, Handouts can be distributed to the audience.
However, printing Handouts is not always a solution - especially if you need to email it to someone. In such a case, one can output Handouts to a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. We'll examine this later in this article.
Masters are an aide to create mimeograph-like patterns - everything is duplicated based on elements existing in the master. Thus if you position any logo in the Handout Master, you can be reasonably sure that all Handouts in that particular presentation will contain the logo.
Unlike slides, Handouts are almost always intended for print, so it might be a good idea to edit the Handout Master based on that assumption. You need to be sure of using content that prints well to both black and white and coloured output.
To edit the Handout Master, go to View | Master | Handout Master. Within the Handout edit area you'll find 4 editable regions (on the four corners of the page). These are header, footer, number and date. All these four regions can be edited as required and since all edits are being done on the Handout Master, you will be able to see results in every printed handout.
A lesser known feature that many users are not aware of is that you can even edit the main handout page area - for instance, you can insert the company logo as a watermark behind the slide thumbnails or even change the background colour of the entire handout area. The screenshot above shows the Handout Master with a teal background (it's usually not a good idea to have a coloured background unless you are creating PDFs from Handouts)
To do that, follow these steps:
- While in Handout Master view (from Normal view, choose View | Master | Handout Master), choose Format | Handout Background.
- In the resultant Handout Background dialog box, choose any of the background options.
It's fairly easy to print handouts. Within PowerPoint's Print dialog box, you'll find a few options that are specific to printing handouts - let's explore them. First, choose File | Print (Ctrl P) to open the Print dialog box. Most options relative to handouts are located in the lower half of this dialog box (see screenshot)
- Choose 'Handouts' in the the 'Print what' drop-down box - and choose either of the three 'color/grayscale' options (see screenshot above).
- You can opt to scale the handout prints to fit your paper size - as also to frame slides and include comment pages.
- Finally, choose your handout layout - the screenshots below show all the default layouts.
You may want to experiment printing to various layouts through the usage of PDF technologies to save papers and trees. That's what we tackle next.
PDF is a great way to distribute your PowerPoint Handouts electronically - it's also a great way to print test Handouts rather than using real paper.
Printing to PDF output is a fairly simple job - you use the PDF printer driver rather than your regular printer driver. You are usually asked to provide a filename and location and the PDF printer driver outputs a PDF within the chosen folder location.
The most popular PDF printer driver is part of Adobe Acrobat program - that's the full Acrobat program rather than just the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program.
Other alternative PDF printer drivers come from several sources - some of these are even open source and/or freeware. Usually, a search for 'free pdf' or 'free pdf print driver' in a search engine like Google should provide some links.
Microsoft MVP Mickey Stevens adds some Mac-specific info here:
"It's even easier to print to PDF using PowerPoint X on Mac OS X, because Mac OS X has a built-in PDF-writing engine. In PowerPoint, go to File | Print, then choose "Microsoft PowerPoint" from the pop-up menu and choose to print Handouts. Then, just click the "Save as PDF" button to save your work." (see screenshot below)
The ultimate Handout customization can be done in Microsoft Word rather than PowerPoint. Word, with its advanced layout and document editing features is miles ahead of PowerPoint in this respect. To send PowerPoint Handouts to a Word document, choose File | Send To | Microsoft Word. This will open the 'Send to Microsoft Word' dialog box, where you can choose from 5 different layouts. Choose the layout that is closest to your preferred layout - since so much more customization can done within Microsoft Word as well. You can also opt to paste slide thumbnails into Word or just paste links that can update the Word document when your actual PowerPoint presentation changes.
Word affords many possibilities - for instance, you can add extra pages that welcome the audience, provide contact information and specifications or pricelists for products or services. All pages along with the Handouts can be made into booklets that can be handed to the audience.
From within Word, you can again opt to print to your regular printer or PDF.
I've put up some formatted and designed Handout samples in a Handout Gallery - I hope to add more sample designs sometime later.
PowerPoint has a template architecture based on its template format, recognizable as a file with a POT extension. Unfortunately, even though you can save the Handout Master as part of a POT file, PowerPoint provides no easy way to apply a template-contained handout design to existing presentations.
Ideally, you should be able to choose:
Format | Apply Design (PowerPoint 97)
Format | Apply Design Template (PowerPoint 2000)
Format | Slide Design (PowerPoint 2002)
and PowerPoint should apply all Masters stored within the template including the Handout Master. Unfortunately, PowerPoint only applies Slide and Title Masters in this way. To apply a Handout Master stored within the same template, you'll have to double-click the template file (POT) from within Windows Explorer and insert slides from the presentation to which the Handout Master styles need to be applied!
The Save Trees add-in ensures that users can print only handouts of the presentation.