Tip of the week # 616
3 August 2020

Export a presentation to Word to use as a handout (Microsoft PowerPoint) *

Last month I told you that one of the rules to prevent "Death by PowerPoint" is to keep it simple. Another suggestion is to limit each bullet or text slide to no more than six lines with six words per line. PowerPoint slides should not be seen as a handout!

This makes me realise that I've never written a PowerPoint tip about creating handouts. I'm not talking about Handouts when you click on the Full Page Slides option from File/Print, although you might want to check out 3 Slides. What I'm referring to is that you can export a tiny version of your slides - called a "thumbnail" - along with any speaker notes to a Word document, that you can edit, format and print as normal. That way you can stick all your wordy explanation in the speaker notes - rather than on the slides - and print your handouts from Word. Or you can use the Word document as a cribsheet for yourself, as the speaker. You can even "automatically" update the Word document if any of the existing slides change.

Here's how:

  1. In PowerPoint 2010 select File, followed by Save & Send. In PowerPoint 2013 onwards select File, followed by Export.
  2. Click the Create Handouts button.
  3. Click on the next Create Handouts button.
  4. Select your preferred layout. (I personally like the default one: Notes next to slides.)
  5. If you want to be able to update the Word document if your presentation changes, click Paste Link.
  6. Click OK.

The presentation opens as a new Word document. You can double-click any of the thumbnails to open the linked presentation.

If text or images on your existing PowerPoint slides have been changed and you want to update the Word document, right-click the thumbnail and select Update Link. Or press CTRL + A, right-click any of the thumbnails and select Update Link to update all existing slides.

Three warnings about this though ... It doesn't update speaker notes. It won't include new slides. And you would break the link if you rename the PowerPoint presentation. That said, you now know how easy it is to create the handout, so perhaps you don't even do step 5.

With thanks to Kathryn for this week's tip inspiration!

Related tips

  1. Magnify part of a picture on your slide - tip_613.php
  2. Save the current document, presentation or worksheet as a PDF - tip_480.php
  3. Attach a PDF version of an active document to an email message - tip_574.php
  4. Save a slide as a picture - tip_175.html


* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.