PowerPoint pro tips: Exporting to other formats

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PowerPoint is used everywhere, but it can’t be viewed or edited on every device. That’s a problem in an increasingly BYOD world, where many audience members could be wielding Android tablets instead of PCs.

Take advantage of PowerPoint 2013’s versatile Export tool to create versions for posting and sharing that embrace all devices. Here's how to save a presentation as a PDF, a Word document handout, and an RTF outline.

Your audience will thank you later.

Getting started

First, make sure you save the presentation you're working on in the default format. That way, if anything goes awry, you can always come back to your saved copy.

Next, open the Export options in PowerPoint by clicking File > Export.

powerpoint export screen

You can reach the Export screen from PowerPoint's File menu. Word and Excel have similar export screens as well.

From here, you will see options to 'Create an PDF/XPS Document,' 'Create a Video,' 'Package Presentation for CD,' 'Create Handouts,' and 'Change File Type.' We're not going to worry about creating a video or packaging the presentation for CD for this tutorial.

Creating a PDF

PowerPoint PDF slides

Presentations exported in PDF can be opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux.

Adobe's Portable Document Format is the gold standard of portable documents—meaning they can be opened anywhere, regardless of operating system or platform. PDFs are also printer-friendly, meaning those who prefer ink to electrons can print a hard copy.

In the Export screen, the 'Create PDF/XPS Document' tab should be selected by default. Click the Create PDF/XPS button. The familiar Save As dialog will appear, but with some options at the bottom.

PowerPoint export PDF

Exporting a presentation to PDF is one of the most fool-proof ways to make sure someone can download and read your presentation later.

By default, if you export your presentation as a PDF, the PDF will simply be a collection of the slides, with one slide per page. But there's more functionality in the PDF export than meets the eye.

If you click Options..., another dialog will pop up. From here, you can select which slides to export, and what to publish.

Look for the drop-down menu labeled 'Publish what.' You can select "Slides," "Handouts," "Notes pages" or "Outline view." Slides is the default option.

PowerPoint export PDF options

PowerPoint 2013 lets you export PowerPoint presentations as PDFs, with several options for how the presentation's information will be displayed.

The Handouts option will display up to nine slides on a page, which is great if you want to print copies of the presentation without killing an entire forest in the process. If you select Handouts, the 'Slides per page' and Order options will be enabled to the right.

The 'Outline view' option will create just that: a PDF with an outline of the presentation. Each slide will be shown as a header, with bullet points shown as subheads.

PowerPoint PDF outline

If you export your presentation as a PDF in outline mode, the outline is clear and understandable, as long as elements on the slides don't get too crazy.

In most situations, you can leave the other options alone.

Click OK when you're done, and click Publish to create the PDF.

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