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PowerPoint files – or derivatives of PowerPoint files, such as presentations “printed to” PDF – are an increasingly common occurrence in Blackboard. Unfortunately, the increase in the numbers of these formats has been accompanied by a surge in the number of printing problems in campus computer labs. This is because files with graphical elements typically “swell” on the way to the printer – a file with a size of a few MB can end up being a 50MB monster by the time it gets to the printer.

PowerPoint files are for viewing slides. It is not appropriate to upload PowerPoint files (.ppt) to Blackboard in their” native” state – you MUST make some changes to the file to ensure that students can view and print the file successfully.

Following the seven steps outlined below can reduce the frustration for students, technical support staff, and printers!


How to printer proof your Powerpoint files

  1. Step 1: Reduce the resolution of images – Before uploading to Blackboard, you should ensure that all graphics in your presentation are 72ppi (pixels per inch) images. This is also sometimes known as 72 dpi (dots per inch).
    • You can do this by selecting the image in PowerPoint, “cutting” the image (Control-X or Apple-X) and pasting it (Control-V or Apple-V) into a graphics application (such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements or Microsoft Photo Editor). Ensure the new file you create is set at 72ppi. Then resize the image to the required dimensions – see Step 2.
  2. Re-size images – You should always re-size your images in a graphics application, (such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements or Microsoft Photo Editor), not in PowerPoint.
    • Use the “height” and “width” controls (usually grouped with the “file size” functions) to ensure that your image is the correct size before importing to PowerPoint. As a general rule, an image to fill a PowerPoint slide would measure 800 x 600 pixels (so one to fit on a quarter of a slide would be 400 x 300 pixels).
  3. Use jpg or gif images…not bmp or tiff – For photographic images, save as a jpeg (.jpg or .jpeg). If it is a cartoon or diagram, save as a gif (.gif).
  4. Re-insert images into PowerPoint Once your images have been re-sized, are saved at an appropriate resolution, and are in a web-friendly format such as jpg or gif, you can re-insert them back into your PowerPoint file.
  5. Remove decorative elements from PowerPoint – Remove ALL non-essential graphics from your PowerPoint file, such as textures, animations, sound effects, background images and banners. Change the colour scheme to black text on a white background. This will ensure that the file is optimally formatted to print quickly and efficiently.
    • Note: The University PowerPoint templates, while great for presentations, are NOT printer-friendly as they have dark backgrounds.
  6. Save As… – There are a number of formats that you can save your PowerPoint file in. If you decide to upload it in a “view only” format – or something that’s relatively hard to print (.pps, .html, print-blocked .pdf) – we STRONGLY recommend uploading it in a print-friendly version as well (like an .rtf outline or a black & white 4-up pdf), unless you have specific reasons for not wanting students to print it out.
    • Note – if you save your presentation as an outline, check that all the relevant text is still there. If you have added manual text boxes to your PowerPoint slides these are not automatically included in an outline.
  7. Leave instructions for students – In your Blackboard paper, you should clearly state which versions can be printed, and which cannot. If you have ONLY provided some files in formats that can’t (or can’t easily) print out (.pps, .html, print-blocked .pdf), consider explaining why you’ve done this. Students often get frustrated because they don’t know why they can’t print certain documents out, when there may be a perfectly good reason that you decided to do this.