Project Management

How to publish a PowerPoint presentation to the Web

Putting a presentation on your Web site isn't terribly complicated -- but browser differences can pose a big gotcha. Here's a look at the publication process and the hurdles you may encounter.

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:

  1. With the presentation open in PowerPoint, choose Save As Web Page from the File menu.
  2. 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.)
  3. Change the filename, if you want.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Click Save.

The above process is easy, but often you'll require a bit more flexibility to customize the resulting Web page(s). When this is the case, click the Publish button (in the Save As dialog box from step 1 above). The resulting Publish As Web Page, shown in Figure A, offers a number of options:
  • 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.

Figure A

Use the Publish As Web Page options to customize your Web files.

Table A

Tab Option Explanation Recommended
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.

Testing

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.

About

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.

9 comments
hnktav
hnktav

I presently have a website and I am using expression 3 with it. I would like to redo my site and use my PP 2010 from scratch and transform it to my expression software and replace my existing site. can you help me out with this, Thanks Hank Tavares

franikk
franikk

I created my PowerPoint with a Heirachy and have links to each section embedded. After I convert the file and display as a web page/part for SharePoint - the links won't work. Any suggestions?

dsterman
dsterman

i want to do a powerpoint presentation.What steps do i take to create that i already have microsoft powerpoint veiwer do i need a different verison of microsoft powerpoint

foreigner
foreigner

-- "Only IE supports the single file format. Don?t use it unless you know viewers will always be using IE." -- "The devil?s in the details" -- indeed it is! Regarding browsers other than Microsoft IE, it is not strictly true that "only" IE supports the single file "Web Archive" or MHTML format. It is also not true that all other browsers support it. It may be true that only IE correctly or satisfactorily renders a Web Archive that had been saved by IE (I just noticed that Opera was unable to locate images in a Web Archive (.mht) saved by IE, while Firefox + unMHT add-on could.) For more information about browsers' ability to manipulate "Web Archives" or MHTML, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MHTML Nevertheless, Susan's advice: "Don?t choose Single File Web Page unless you know what you?re doing" is good and prudent!

santeewelding
santeewelding

In contrast to an illuminated manuscript, I fall away aghast.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Convert it to a flash file. There are several free programs as well as several paid programs which will do that.

Lcortney
Lcortney

I love the freebie program "SUPER" Takes multiple formats and converts to prettymuch anything you want. I can take AVI, VTS, etc... files and make them flash files and put them on my site quickly and easily...

Fawcett_Tax
Fawcett_Tax

I have some PowerPoint slideshows which when opened on their own (i.e., as an email attachment) automatically fill the entire screen, play music, and fade from slide to slide. When the same file is linked to from my web page, I get the basic PowerPoint screens and must press F5 to start the presentation. I tried the save as HTML and told it to publish, and linked to the htm file in my web page. When I click the link, I get the basic PowerPoint screens and cannot get the presentation to run (which I can at least do by pressing F5 with the pps file). Any suggestions on how to get a slideshow to run by just accessing the link and not having to press F5 to start it?

Saurondor
Saurondor

is the rival Open Office. Supports export to SWF and PDF. I wonder why Microsoft hasn't come up with a Silverlight export yet.

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