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Tips for PowerPoint 2007 and Newer (native .pptx format)

Smile—Microsoft just made posters harder!

New Graphics Language

You should know that Microsoft created its own graphics code with the introduction PowerPoint 2007 software. This is a step away from traditional graphics and printing language and introduced many new problems for large format printing. We’ve seen a significant loss in stability and predictability in poster printing with the introduction of PowerPoint 2007 and continuing through current versions.

Stay with the New PPTX Format

If ANY part of a poster is created in PowerPoint 2007 or newer, it is best if the poster is saved ONLY in the native .pptx format.  Note that if an older document is opened in PPT 2007, the program will automatically save the file backwards to 2003 (.ppt) format, called “Compatibility mode.” Allowing PowerPoint to save backward to .ppt format from a version newer than 2007 can create print errors for posters.


  • To save as a .pptx file, choose Save As, then choose PowerPoint Presentation (top choice in the list).
  • If you do this immediately upon opening a file you will work on, it will always save as 2007 thereafter.

File complexity and Print Errors

Print errors can appear even if everything looks fine on the screen—sometimes even when things look fine on the proof! Print errors seem to be directly related to file complexity. The more complex a file is, the greater chances of something looking wrong when printed.
Some things which have been linked to print errors:

  • Poster size. When going over 40", consider making your poster 1/2 scale and asking us to enlarge it to the final size.
  • Transparent effects: Glows, Shadows, Bevels, Plastic (see-through) object styles. These styles can create complexity which can cause images/graphics they are applied to to appear to have thin horizontal slices through them.
  • Transparent colors print with errors (a "window screen" appearance) -- Microsoft acknowledges this. To avoid this, use solid colors. Do not use transparent colors to make a "lighter" version of a color, you can create a solid version without transparency.
  • Using background gradients that are circular ("spotlight"), diagonal, or shape-based (e.g. diamond) gradients create very complex files. Instead, use up and down or side-to-side gradients.
  • Rounded corners applied to photos and scans. Photos and scans by nature are always rectangular. A round corner creates some sort of mask to hide it, but adds complexity and often print errors. Errors increase with addition gradient backgrounds, shadows or glows.
  • Photo edge effects (reflections, blurs, beveled matt frames, etc)
  • Large images or a large number of images in poster. Make sure images are optimized with correct resolution.

Some objects print at low resolution, even if the newer file format is maintained:

  • 3D charts. When viewpoint is rotated.
  • Any vector art (charts, logos, clipart), that had a graphic effect applied: glow, bevel, 3D effect, shadow

Print file complexity increases with the area of the poster, the number and complexity of objects added to it, and the number of graphic effects applied.

Some effects may work properly in smaller posters when limited to a very few small objects. If the same poster is enlarged, or more objects or effects are added, the complexity threshold may be crossed and printer errors introduced. The fix is to simplify the poster by making sure images are not over-rezed (> 300dpi at final size), removing effects, possibly making the poster 1/2 scale.

Types of Printing Errors Seen

  1. Alignment problems with text.
    Cause: (A) A 2007 file is saved as a 2003 file, or (B) you used a font we do not have.
    Fix: (A) Open and Save As a 2007 file will usually fix. Be sure to let us know that you used PPT 2007! (B) Change the font
  2. Large title-size text collapsing (no space between letters).
    Cause: unknown.
    : Delete the corrupted text box and recreate it.
  3. Low-resolution rasterization (“jaggies”) of glows, bevels, shadows to text and objects.
    Cause: Saving as a 2003 file. If the file was saved as 2003 and the objects are "locked down", the errors are permanent (except for shadows-only on text errors). Some effects, such as rotation of 3D objects and graphs and effects applied to vector art will print low rez, even in 2007. Imported GIF files (from web or clip art) will always print with low resolution.
    Fix: The damaged objects have to be recreated or re-inserted and the file saved properly as a 2007 file. In many cases with shadows on textboxes, just re-saving as a 2007 file will fix the shadow errors. Do not add 2007 effects to vector art, do not use GIF files, do not 3D-rotate charts.
  4. Thin “slices” through images (with or without effects) or text boxes (with effects). Usually parallel to the long axis of the poster. Cause: This appears to be an alignment error when complex objects are sliced into more memory-efficient smaller pieces.
    Fix: Remove or simplify effects on oject(s), simplify background (many effects are semi-transparent, and a complex object showing through will promote print errors). Sometimes creating larger posters as 1/2 scale will fix.

New Custom PDF Proofing Method

  • The custom PDF proof is helpful in making technical printing issues visible, including word and line spacing, missing font(s), character / symbol substitutions, embedded figure display and cropping errors.
  • The procedure for making a custom PDF for a PowerPoint version newer than 2007is totally different than that for PPT 2003-2005. Do not use the 2003 PDF instructions posted online and in the Poster Resources file.
    • The PDF proof for version 2007 and newer must be made using Save As > PDF or XPS. In PPT 2010, the Save As > PDF is a separate entry.
    • With 2007, the first time you click this option, you will be automatically directed to Microsoft's site and prompted to download a plug-in installer that adds this capability to PowerPoint. Go ahead and do this. See sample screen shots below for options.
    • Unlike the Bill G's method for PPT 2003 PDFs, 2007 cannot create a high-rez PDF for print. The images are downsampled, with no option to over-ride this. Nevertheless, this PDF is the best option and still creates a file valid for proofing purposes in that it makes many technical errors evident before you send the file for printing.
    • Your poster will actually printed from within PPT 2007, but the PDF proof is valid for proofing purposes. Proof from the PDF file, but send the native PPT 2007 file to us for printing.

    When you choose Save As > PDF or XPS this screen will come up:

  • 2007 PDF screen shot 1

When you click Options you will get this screen:

2007 PDF screen shot -2

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