How do I... Share a PowerPoint presentation for comments and changes?

Most of us don't have the creative expertise to create a professional presentation without a little help. Microsoft PowerPoint's advanced reviewing tools make it easy for everyone to collaborate at their convenience. Susan Sales Harkins shows you how to use these PowerPoint tools to your advantage.

Most of us don't have the creative expertise to put together a professional presentation without a little help. In fact, many people within your organization may view your presentation before it gets a final stamp of approval. You could meet with colleagues in a conference room so everyone can comment as a group, but that's impractical. Fortunately, Microsoft PowerPoint's advanced reviewing tools make it easy for everyone to collaborate at their convenience.

This blog post is also available in PDF form as a TechRepublic download.

Collaborating for the best presentation

If you're part of a large organization, you may have access to a SharePoint Server Web site. If that's the case, collaboration is simple. You publish a presentation and invite reviewers. The good news is that you don't need SharePoint to collaborate on a presentation. PowerPoint has a few built-in features that simplify collaboration.

Throughout this article, the term review refers to the entire process of making and managing collaborative comments.

First, you have to decide how you're going to distribute the presentation. The easiest way to get your presentation into reviewing hands is to put it on a server. The next best way is by e-mail. Regardless of your distribution method, the reviewing process is the same:

  • The presentation's author sends it out for review.
  • Reviewers make changes or comments.
  • The reviewers return the presentation to its author.
  • The author merges the reviewed presentations, compares them, and saves the final presentation.

Sending the presentation for review

The two preferred methods of sending a presentation for review are e-mail (Outlook) and posting a copy of the presentation to a server. To send a PowerPoint 2002 or 2003 presentation using Outlook, do the following:

  • Open the presentation in PowerPoint.
  • Choose Send To from the File menu and then select Mail Recipient (For Review). Outlook will open an e-mail window, complete with generic instructions and an attached copy of the presentation, as shown in Figure A.
  • Enter addresses and update instructions in the message area, if necessary.
  • Click Send.

Figure A

Using Outlook to send your presentation simplifies the review process.

To save a review copy to a server or disk, follow these simple steps:

  • Open the presentation in PowerPoint.
  • Choose Save As from the File menu.
  • In the Save As dialog box, enter a name for the review copy.
  • From the Save As Type drop-down list, choose Presentation For Review, as shown in Figure B.
  • Click Save.

Figure B

Save a review copy of the presentation to put on a server or disk.

Once you have a review copy, send it to the server, by disk, or even an e-mail client other than Outlook.

The Send As Review feature isn't available in PowerPoint 2007. Instead, attach the presentation to an e-mail message as you would any attachment. Reviewers then use the Comments feature in the Comments group on the Review tab.

In reviewing hands

Reviewers have a great deal of control over the presentation:

  • Reviewers can make changes. Fortunately, the review copy will track those changes, which the author can review later in the Revisions task pane. Table A lists the types of changes reviewers can make and that PowerPoint tracks.
  • Reviewers can add comments about individual slides, which will appear in yellow boxes in the presentation.

Table A: Review changes



Presentation Slide size
Content, headers, footers, titles, and notes
List of named shows
Slide Color scheme
Animation settings
List of shapes
Slide master IDs and locked templates
Slide master list of color schemes, default text styles, background, and objects
Slide transition and layout
Headers and footers
Shape Action settings
Recolor information
External objects
Paragraph Bullet typeface, color, size, animation schemes, margins, and tabs
Paragraph indent, alignment, direction, margin, and tabs
Text Font type, color, and size

Because reviewers have so much control, they should always work with review copies and not the original presentation file. The Revisions task pane and the Reviewing toolbar are available in all copies. Tools on the Reviewing toolbar are self-explanatory. However, not all buttons are enabled all the time. These tools are context-specific and appear accordingly.

While reviewing, make changes as you normally would. To create a comment, click the Insert Comment button on the Reviewing toolbar and enter your thoughts about the current slide in the resulting yellow box. You can make more than one comment about a slide. PowerPoint will overlap them so that the author can see there are multiple comments, as shown in Figure C. Add comments to the slide itself or to elements on the slide by simply selecting text of a graphic before commenting.

Figure C

Comments share suggestions with the author without actually taking any action.

Returning reviews

Reviewers can easily return their review versions of the presentation as follows:

  • A reviewer who received the presentation through Outlook should choose Send To from the File menu, and select Original Sender (from the presentation open in PowerPoint).
  • Reviewers receiving a presentation on disk, via a server, or by non-Outlook e-mail attachment should use the same method to return their review.
  • Reviewers using versions earlier than 2002 should choose Send To from the File menu, and then choose Mail Recipient (As Attachment).

Reconciling reviews

After collecting reviews, it's the author's job to merge them. Double-click reviewed presentations and click Yes when prompted to merge the presentation. PowerPoint merges the files and opens the Revisions task pane. Check all comments and changes to accept or reject changes for the current slide. (If necessary, open the task pane by choosing Toolbars from the View menu and then selecting Revisions Task Pane.)

The List tab displays color-coded comments and changes for each reviewer. Figure D shows the result of clicking a change made by reviewer Susan Harkins. Right-click the review (edit) icon to display a list of options, as shown in Figure E. The Gallery tab contains thumbnails of the changed slides.

Figure D

Susan Harkins changed the title's color.

Figure E

Reject or apply changes made by reviewers.

You don't have to delete comments if you don't want to. Hide them by clicking the markup button on the Reviewing toolbar. This button is a toggle switch that displays or hides comments. Comments don't appear in a slideshow.

PowerPoint 2007 users can view comments and changes by clicking Show Markup in the Comments group on the Review tab.

After reconciling all of the review comments and changes, save the presentation.


Sharing a presentation with others in your organization is a good idea. Others can spot problems you miss. It's similar to an author editing one's own work. The brain glosses over the mistakes because it knows what you really meant to say or do. Not only will fresh eyes spot errors, they might offer good advice for improving readability and applying special effects.

Susan Sales Harkins is an independent consultant and the author of several articles and books on database technologies. Her most recent book is "Mastering Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express," with Mike Gunderloy, published by Sybex. Other collaborations with Mike Gunderloy are "Automating Microsoft Access 2003 with VBA," "Upgrader's Guide to Microsoft Office System 2003," "ICDL Exam Cram 2," and "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Access 2003" all by Que. Currently, Susan volunteers as the Publications Director for Database Advisors at You can reach her at