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Tell It Like It Is. Or How Marketing Wants You To Tell It

This has to be one of my favorite applications for the annotations in Acrobat 8, but has nothing to do with reviewing documents!

One of the most popular ways to publish and share content in the form of PowerPoint slides is as a PDF file. Makes sense, right? You can secure the file to prevent changes. Everyone sees exactly the same thing. You can include slide transitions and bullet-point animations. And more. But that’s all for another time and another blog.

Many presenters, eLearning content authors, and Adobe marketing types like to (always?) put speaker notes with the PowerPoint slides. This is as a guide, for ancillary information, or in the case of those Adobe marketing types, telling everyone else in the company what to say. But converting a PPT to a PDF used to mean that those notes would either be “lost” or have to “printed” to PDF separately. Not any more.

PDFMaker’s preferences for PowerPoint on Windows (sorry my Mac brethren) includes an option to “Convert Speaker notes to Text notes in Adobe PDF” under the Setting tab. You can get to this dialog box by either clicking on the “Preferences” button in PowerPoint 2007, or choosing “Change Conversion Settings” from the Adobe PDF menu in PowerPoint 2003 and earlier.


Click OK and the settings will remain for future conversions. Now convert to PDF from PowerPoint using the PDFMaker buttons or the Adobe PDF menu, and take a look at the resulting PDF file in Acrobat.

What you will now see on every page that has speakers notes is a PDF Sticky Note in the top left of that page (my Mac brethren, you can now come back into this conversation). If you hover over that Note or double-click to open its pop-up, lo-and-behold, there are the speakers notes from PowerPoint.


Now those notes will always appear on the page unless you delete or hide them all. The neat thing is that these notes are on a PDF Layer, whose view you can toggle on or off. Open the Layers Panel tab on the left of your Acrobat window and you will see a layer called “Background” and another called “Presentation Notes”. Just as you would do in other Adobe creative tools that use layers, click the eye icon to toggle the display of the layers on or off.


By the way, the Background layer will show and hide any background graphics you may have had in your PowerPoint design. That’s useful if you want to print the slides but don’t want to use up all that expensive ink when printing backgrounds – yes, layer visibility can affect printing too! Look at the detailed “Layer Properties” under the Layers Navigation Panel Options menu button.

It’s important to remember: Acrobat is not a replacement for tools like PowerPoint when it comes to creating presentations and eLearning content. However, it’s ideal when it comes to being able to share that interesting and engaging content reliably across computers, networks and devices. The ability to then use that content in meaningful ways as a PDF just makes it all the more valuable.

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