Putting Powerpoint on a Diet
If your presentation uses a lot of high-quality images, the file size can balloon quickly. We don’t want to discourage the use of striking photographs in your presentation; they add depth and character to what could otherwise just be bullets on a slide. They’re also a big help if your presenter type is Teacher or Counselor (You can find out more about different presenter types here.) However, there are some things you should know to help manage the size of your presentation.
Crop Your Images
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that all the images that you’re using are within the borders of the slide. Anything outside the borders won’t show up on your slide show and is just taking up space. Select the image you want to adjust and go to the “Format” tab in the upper right. Click the “Crop” button, located toward the right of the panel, and you’ll see a few black markers appear on the border of the image. Click and drag any one of these markers to adjust the borders of your image, and bring them in so that they match the borders of the slide. Click the “Crop” button again once you’re done. Don’t worry if you screw up or want to change the borders again; anything you crop out of the image is still saved and can be adjusted by selecting the “Crop” tool again.
Cropping your images won’t save any space on it’s own, but prepares you for the next step.
Compress Your Images
Next, you’ll want to reduce the file size of your images. Click on any image in your presentation and go back to the “Format” tab in the upper right. Once there, look for an option labeled “Compress Pictures”. This will bring up a panel with a few options. You’ll first want to take a look at the “Compression options” at the top of the panel. Both items should be checked by default. Uncheck the option labelled “Apply only to this picture.” This will ensure that the rest of the changes you make will be repeated for all the images in your presentation. The option labelled “Delete cropped areas of pictures.” you’ll want to keep checked. This may not apply to you unless you followed my earlier instruction about cropping images to the boundaries of the slide. But if you did, it will erase that data and save precious kilobytes, so make sure your images are placed where you want them before you do this.
The second set of options on this panel is “Target output”. This is where you can specify the resolution of the images you’re using. Select the bottom option, “Use document resolution”. This will set all images to 72dpi (dots per inch), which is the standard resolution of a computer screen. Anything higher than that takes up space but won’t have any effect unless your presentation is only going to be printed (In which case you should be using 300dpi images and file size is not your priority!)
Done! Click OK and Powerpoint will apply these options to your images. Save your presentation and check the file size again. Everything should be feeling much lighter at this point…
Delete Master Slides
If the file is still too big for your liking, there are a few other things you can do to trim the fat. If you’re using a corporate template, your presentation may be bloated with master slides that aren’t being used. Click the “View” tab along your top bar, then click “Slide Master” to open up the master view. Instead of your presentation, you should see a number of blank slides that may have a logo or page number, but no content. Sift through these and find any that you haven’t used in your presentation, then delete them. If you aren’t sure, or you don’t feel comfortable poking around under the hood, err on the side of caution and skip this step. When you’re finished, select “Close Master View” to return to your slides.
Sometimes, you may find yourself repeating one image on multiple successive slides in order to animate your content in a certain way. This repetition means that the size of that image is multiplied. Try consolidating the image to one slide by making it the background of a master slide and using the entrance and exit effects in the “Animations” tab to get the same effect.
Embed Custom Fonts
Using custom fonts is a mixed bag in Powerpoint. On the one hand, you’ll make your presentation stand out with unique, bold type. However, the presentation won’t work properly for anyone who doesn’t have that font. You can embed your custom fonts by clicking on the “File” tab, and then on “Options” to bring up the options panel. Go to the “Save” tab and look for the option labelled “Embed fonts in the file.” Doing this will increase the file size, but you can mitigate this by checking “Embed only the characters used in the presentation”.
That’s it! If you followed these instructions, your presentation should be down to a manageable size that you can send via email. Keep in mind, if you’re using large images on every slide or videos (which cannot be compressed in Powerpoint), your file may still be too large. In this case, there isn’t much you can do about it, so I would recommend using a file-sharing service to distribute it. Our favorites are Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) and YouSendIt (www.yousendit.com).
Ben Bassak is a graphic designer living in New York. He is certified in Microsoft Powerpoint and specializes in data visualization, print layout, illustration, and presentation design. Nail biting is now medically considered OCD, confirming his suspicions. You can follow him @benbassak
Andreas Pichaeli is a Photoshop and After Effects expert. He works as the media content creator at fassforward Consulting Group. He’s English, but don’t hold that against him. You can follow him @AndreasPichaeli
If you’re interested in writing a guest posts for this blog, please contact Gavin.