Distributing PPTs - Pitfalls, Panics & Pleasures

  • Thread starter LilyAndrew via OfficeKB.com
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LilyAndrew via OfficeKB.com

Distributing PPTs - Pitfalls, Panics & Pleasures
Your assignment ...
• Create a presentation that will be sent out to dozens (hundreds, thousands,
bazillions) of people.
• Make sure it looks good and runs properly for all of them when they view it.

• Make sure that they CAN view it.
There are several potential problem areas:
• Recipients who don't have PowerPoint
• PowerPoint version compatibility
• Links - to images, sounds, movies and OLE content (graphs, charts,
spreadsheets, Word pages etc.)
• Sound and movie compatibility
• Fonts
• Timing/Synchronization
• VBA code and Controls
• Recipients using assistive technology
Most of these problems can be prevented or worked around. We'll look at how
as we focus on distributing presentations via CD-ROM to Windows users.
Recipients who don't have PowerPoint
You can't view PowerPoint files without either PowerPoint or one of the
PowerPoint viewers that Microsoft allows you to download and/or distribute
for free.
You can
• Give your audience a link where they can download and install a viewer
themselves if they need one
• Distribute the installer along with your presentation so they can install
it directly from the CD
• Create an AutoRun CD that includes a "pre-installed" version of the viewer
and automatically launches your presentation, in the viewer, as soon as the
user inserts the CD
PowerPoint version compatibility
Many of the animation features introduced in PowerPoint 2002 (XP) aren't
supported in earlier versions.
They're supported in the PowerPoint 2003 Viewer but not in the older
PowerPoint 97/2000/2002 viewer.
If you use PowerPoint 2002 or later but need to maintain compatibility with
earlier PowerPoint and Viewer versions, do this before you start work on the
• Choose Tools, Options from the main menu bar
• Click the Edit tab in the Options dialog box that appears
• Put a checkmark next to all of the "Disable New Features" options.
This will keep you from accidentally using features that won't work in
earlier PPT versions.
Unfortunately it won't help much if you've already created the presentation.
Also, don't apply a password to your presentation unless you're certain the
intended recipients have PowerPoint 2002 or 2003. If they have an earlier
Windows version or any Mac version of PowerPoint, they won't be able to open
or view password-protected files.
Other things that may happen when your presentation plays in a different
version of PowerPoint/Viewer:
• Animated GIFs may run faster or slower than you expect
• Animated GIFs may not loop (ie, they may play through only once) or may
loop when you don't want them to
• Animated GIFs don't animate at all in PowerPoint 97 and the older Viewer
• Animation and slide transitions may run at different speeds or may behave
• Links to external files may bring up a virus warning message box when
• Links to some external files may not work at all
• VBA macros and controls aren't supported in either Viewer so macros/addins
won't work; listbox/textbox/other controls don't function; Flash movies
embedded in a Flash control won't flash.
• VBA macros won't work in PowerPoint if the user's macro security level is
set to High. The user sees no warning message, so they have no idea that
anything's amiss
Links - to images, sounds, movies and OLE content
PowerPoint allows you to link images. There are good reasons for doing this,
but linking images is a bad idea if you need to distribute a presentation.
PowerPoint's default is to embed images. Let it. You have to distribute the
images one way or another -- within the PPT file or as standalone files -- so
the total number of bytes in all the files isn't an issue.
Sound and movie compatibility
Even though you have the linking problem solved, sounds and movies may still
not play correctly on another computer.
Executive summary: Use AVI files for movies, WAV files for sounds, embed the
WAVs and watch the links.
If your presentation uses a font that isn't installed on the playback
computer, PowerPoint has to substitute one of the fonts that it finds there.
The substituted font won't look the same. And because the widths of
characters in the font will be different, line breaks may change, text may
flow out of text boxes and other not-nice things may happen.
You have two lines of defense against font problems:
• Embed fonts in your presentation
• Use fonts that you're sure are on every computer
By the way, it's not legal to distribute font files. Don't go there.
To embed fonts in PowerPoint 2002 (XP) and later, choose Tools, Options and
on the Save Tab, checkmark the option to embed fonts. In earlier versions,
the option to embed fonts is part of the File, Save As dialog box.
So all you have to do is embed the fonts and your problems are over? Not so
• Only TrueType fonts are embeddable, so don't use Type1/PostScript fonts in
presentations you intend to distribute
• Not all TrueType fonts are embeddable. PowerPoint will generally tell you
about fonts that aren't when you try to save the presentation with the Embed
Fonts option active, so try saving your presentation each time you use a new
font. Or visit Microsoft Typography for a handy tool that lets you check your
fonts before you use them.
• When certain fonts are embedded but not installed on the system where you
open the presentation, PowerPoint 2003 won't allow you to edit or save the
presentation; it turns into a view-only proposition
• Mac PowerPoint doesn't support font embedding and can't use embedded fonts
If embedding fonts doesn't work for you for one of the reasons above, you'll
have to choose fonts that are always installed on all of the computers you
expect to play your presentation back on. If that means "all Mac and Windows
computers" to you, grit your teeth: you're limited to the Four de Bore: Arial,
Times New Roman, Courier and WingDings. Woop. Woop.
If you plan to create a presentation that's tightly synchronized to a sound
track, stop. Plan something else.
It won't work in PowerPoint. Sorry, that's harsh. But it's kinder to tell you
now than let you spend hours making head-shaped dents in your furniture and
You can't synch slide shows to sound in any version of PPT. You may be able
to get it fairly close on one particular computer, but the show won't stay in
synch on other computers or probably even the next time you reboot and play
the show again.
If you really really need to do this, the best bet is to break up your sound
track into slide-sized chunks and embed indiviual WAV files on each slide as
transition sounds. This can work quite nicely for spoken narration but
obviously won't work for music tracks.
VBA code and Controls
VBA macros won't run in PowerPoint if the user's Macro Security Settings are
set to High. There's no way you can change this other than by asking the user
to change the setting for you.
The Viewers don't support VBA at all. VBA macros won't work in the viewers.
ActiveX controls (list boxes, radio buttons, checkboxes and the other gadgets
in the Controls toolbox; Flash movies embedded in Flash controls) won't work
in the Viewers either.
Recipients using assistive technology
It's likely that some of your recipients will have a limitation (vision,
hearing, cognitive ability) that affects how they view your presentation. By
following a few guidelines, you can make your presentation accessible to all
of your intended audience.
If you want to ensure that your audience sees the same presentation as you
created, you may have to lower your expectations and create for the lowest
common denominator.
That usually means creating for one of the PowerPoint Viewers and
distributing the Viewer on the CD, whether AutoRun or not.
Be sure to test as you go along rather than spend hours creating a whizbang
presentation, only to find out that you can't distribute it because it won't
work elsewhere.
Suggestion: Keep an old PC for test purposes. Reformat it and install the
most ancient version of Windows you want to support. Install the appropriate
viewer and nothing else. If your CD runs well on that, it'll be a screaming
success everywhere else.

Glen Millar


Instead of reading the plagiarized version, they could read the original



Glen Millar
Microsoft PPT MVP

Tutorials and PowerPoint animations at
the original www.pptworkbench.com
glen at pptworkbench dot com
Please tell us your:
PowerPoint version
Windows version
Are you using VBA?
Anything else relevant?

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