PowerPoint is designed for visual presentation design and projection. I clearly remember several meetings and discussions with Microsoft as they worked on PowerPoint 2007 about improving the print capabilities of PowerPoint – the laser printer, handout, PDF capabilities. Fast forward to Office 365 and PowerPoint 2013 and I am seeing a significant number of project requests and forum questions on how to use PowerPoint to design print documents. For this full month, ThePowerPointBlog is focusing all posts on using PowerPoint for print document design.

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Before we dive in with showing examples of PowerPoint for Print projects TLC Creative has done or providing tutorials on how to setup PowerPoint for print, let me establish a few technical terms and perspective:

  • Quick Print and Laser Print: This is printing a document on a black/white or color laser printer, it can be sitting on your desk or a large system at a Kinkos. They all have the same traits, digital printing and not capable of printing to the edge of the paper.
  • Offset Printing: This is “real” printing. Print design files are output to separated film and each plate is applied as individual passes of ink. From the printer, the paper needs to go to finish cutting to have a ready-to-use print document. Note: Offset printing can have the print image go to the edge of the paper.
  • Resolution: Web and presentation images are 72DPI – or low resolution (and this is a big generalization for the sake of an easy conversation). Print (eg. offset press) is 300DPI – or high resolution.
  • Vector Graphics: Images, or text, that are based on geometric shapes and mathematical equations (see that high school geometry class was important after all!). Note: Vector graphics can be enlarged to any size without quality loss.
  • Raster Graphics: Images that are created from dots or pixels. Note: The image is at a set size and enlarging lowers the visual quality.
  • Bleed, Printer vs. Reader spreads, CMYK vs. RGB, and many other print industry terms need to be understood by those using PowerPoint to create print documents.


So, why am I qualified to lead a discussion on PowerPoint-for-Print? Because before digital printers had quality output, and before PowerPoint (Flash, Director, and Harvard Graphics) made it easy enough for virtually anyone to create layouts, I worked in the print industry turning design files into separated film plates for the printing press operators. I am not saying I am old, but as a youngster I was lucky enough to enter the design industry as the digital revolution was in process. I experienced the true printing process and learned the classics of visual design – all great things that carry over into the wonderful world of PowerPoint presentations.

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Because now, everyone has a computer – tablet – and smartphone that has PowerPoint (thanks Microsoft for making Office available everywhere!), everyone can now use PowerPoint to design more than slides. In addition, the ease of sourcing images, video, custom fonts, design accent graphics and low cost printing all have created an environment in just the past few years for PowerPoint to become the default print design application – if only it did not have so many limitations!

Next post is “PowerPoint vs. Word vs. InDesign – which should I use?

– Troy @ TLC