PowerPoint can create an impressive Web site, if all conditions are just right. First, you create the presentation in PowerPoint on a local system. Then, you save the presentation to HTML format. Finally, you upload the HTML files to a Web server. But even though it seems easy, the road to Web success is riddled with potholes. That's because a PowerPoint Web presentation works best in Internet Explorer (IE). If you can guarantee viewers will be using a recent version of IE, you're in luck.
Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.
The basics of publishing to the Web
Publishing a presentation to the Web begins with converting the presentation to HTML as follows:
- With the presentation open in PowerPoint, choose Save As Web Page from the File menu.
- Using the Save In control in the resulting Save As dialog box, browse to the folder where you want to save your presentation. (If you can connect directly to the server, you can save the files to the server, which is considerably easier. But for most of us, that's seldom an option.)
- Change the filename, if you want.
- From the Save As Type drop-down list, choose Single File Web Page or Standard Web Page. If you save your presentation as a standard Web page, PowerPoint will generate an HTML file and a folder that contains a number of additional files that the presentation needs. Saving your file as a single file Web page creates one file that contains everything. Don't choose Single File Web Page unless you know what you're doing.
- If you want to change the page title, click the Change Title button and update the text accordingly. This is what will appear in the browser's title bar.
- Click Save.
- Publish What?: Use these settings to specify exactly what goes to the Web. You can include all or a subset of slides. In addition, you can include your speaker notes. See Table A to view the many options available by clicking the Web Options button.
- Browser Support: Supporting older versions of Internet Explorer (IE) requires a larger file. There's nothing wrong with forcing users to upgrade to see your presentation. The All Browsers Listed Above option will create a large file that's slower to download. However, this option lets viewers see the presentation regardless of their IE version.
- Before publishing, you can also change the page title and the filename.
Use the Publish As Web Page options to customize your Web files.
|General||Add Slide Navigation Controls||The default is to add a navigational frame to the left of the Web page.||Use only if needed.|
|Show Slide Show While Browsing||The default disables browsing while running the slide show.||Use only if needed.|
|Resize Graphics To Fit Browser Window||Automatically adjusts graphics.||Use if you can't control viewer resolution.|
|Browsers||People Who View This Web Page Will be Using||Identify the capability browser and version.||Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or later|
|Allow PNG As A Graphics Format||Portable Network Graphics (PNG) requires less disk space than more common formats. Older browsers don't support PNG.||Use only if needed.|
|Rely On VML For Displaying Graphics In Browsers||Vector Markup Language (VML) describes 2D graphics in text format. Older browsers don't support VML.||Use only if needed.|
|Save An Additional Version Of The Presentation For Older Browsers||Most viewers will be able to see your presentation. This option increases the disk space required by your presentation.||Use only if needed.|
|Save New Web Pages As Single File Web Pages||PowerPoint saves everything you need to run the presentation with the file, so you don't need a support folder. Use this option when you have to distribute a presentation to others.||Only IE recognizes this format. If you know users will be using IE, you can use it. If the page is open to the public, don't use it.|
|Files||Organize Supporting Files In A Folder||This default setting saves all supporting files in a single folder.||Use.|
|Use Long File Names Whenever Possible||This default maintains the literal filenames.||Use.|
|Update Links On Save||This default will update your links when you save changes to your presentation (if possible).||Use as required.|
|Check If Office Is The Default Editor For Web Pages Created In Office||This default reviews the viewer's default editor.||No reason to use.|
|Pictures||Screen Size||800 X 600 is the default setting.||This default means most page layouts will work with the lowest resolution.|
|Encoding||Ignore this tab unless you know what you're doing; it allows you to modify output for browsers that support other languages.|
|Fonts||Ignore this tab unless you know what you're doing; it allows you to modify output for browsers that support other languages.|
Transferring your Web page to a Web server
If you have access to a Web server, you can save the presentation directly to it. However, most of us have to save the files to a local system and then move those files to a Web server. This process will be unique and specific to your ISP or your company's intranet. Either way, you must contact the ISP or your network administrator for specific instructions. If you didn't save the presentation as a single file, be sure you transfer all of the supporting files during this process.
You must create the same folder structure on the Web server and transfer the files exactly as they are on your local system. If you don't, the slide show won't work properly. This problem accounts for almost all missing graphics and broken links. All files must be in the same folder or subfolder and all files must retain the same names. Change nothing about the structure when transferring these files.
You can test the new Web page at just about any time. You don't even have to save your presentation to view it as a Web page. For a quick preview, select Web Page Preview from PowerPoint's File menu. PowerPoint will open the presentation, slide by slide, in your default browser. When you're done, simply close your browser. After you publish the Web page, test the results thoroughly:
- Check for missing pages and graphics. If anything's missing, you probably didn't transfer all the supporting files properly.
- Test all links using a computer other than the one you used to save the presentation to a Web page. That way, if something's linking to your computer, you'll find the mistake. In addition, remember that links break quickly and often. Check them frequently.
- View your Web site in as many different browsers as you can.
- View your Web site using every possible resolution setting.
- View your Web site using both a Windows PC and a Mac, if possible.
- View your Web site using an operating system other than Windows, if possible.
- Test your Web site using different connections. You might want to change or even eliminate elements that slow things down.
If you're publishing your presentation to a controlled environment where you know the operating system, browser, and resolution, you don't have to be as thorough.
The devil's in the details
Publishing a PowerPoint presentation to the Web seems easy enough, but you'll seldom get what you expect. There are a number of limitations:
- Use the most recent version of IE possible. If you must support older versions of IE, consider creating additional versions of your presentation for older browsers. It's difficult to get anything but the most basic presentation to run well on all versions of IE.
- Only IE supports the single file format. Don't use it unless you know viewers will always be using IE.
- Don't expect to get it right the first time. Start with the default settings, unless you know up front that a default isn't adequate. Then, rework the presentation as needed.
PowerPoint to the Web
Although PowerPoint can transfer a presentation to the Web, the results can be disappointing. The biggest issue is the viewer's environment. When you are sure viewers will use IE, PowerPoint Web pages are stable and effective. Unfortunately, it's difficult to support a PowerPoint Web presentation in any browser other than IE. Public viewers may be very dissatisfied with what they see, regardless of how you hard you try to accommodate other browsers.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.