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Presentation programs

Presentation programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, are the electronic equivalents of the old slide shows I used to work on. Back then we filled two slide carousels and alternated between the two slide projectors. Today, with software such as a presentation program, I can create stunning slide shows with incredible extras that I can get only from computer software.

You can import graphics, as well as do some basic drawing. You can put special backgrounds on each page that blend from one color to another, add interesting textures, and create other effects that add to the impression of the presentation. You can add sounds and movies and create limited animations, like text and graphics moving in and out.

Each page of a presentation program becomes an electronic presentation slide. The computer is then hooked up to a projector that displays the presentation. You use the computer to move between the pages in the presentation.

Converting presentations for print

One of the most common questions I get from designers is how to convert their company’s PowerPoint files into illustrations that can be used in annual reports, ads, and other printed documents.

Unfortunately, the files in presentation programs should not be used for professional output as part of printed designs. The backgrounds and textures are not in the proper format for color separations (see Chapters 9 and 10 for lots of information about separating colors), nor are the graphics.

PowerPoint files can be directly printed onto office printers. However, if you want those PowerPoint files to be reproduced on a commercial, high-quality press, there are two different techniques. The first way is easy; the second way is best.

The easiest way to professionally output from PowerPoint is to convert the presentation into a PDF file (covered in Chapter 17). This doesn’t control all the colors and elements in the file, but it will create a file that can be printed at a print shop.

The best way to recreate your presentation takes a little more work, but the results are worth it.

  1. Export all the text from the presentation into a plain text file.
  2. Convert a presentation page that doesn’t have any text on it into a picture format, or reproduce the backgrounds in an image editing program.
  3. Insert the background image into the page layout program.
  4. Insert the presentation text into the page layout program, creating one page per “slide.”
  5. Take this new file to the print shop for output.
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