Converting .DOCs to PPTs?

Subject: Converting .DOCs to PPTs?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 17:23:16 -0500


Kelley wonders: <<My boss has a client who wants their policies converted to .PPT for use in an online learning application. Apparently, we have a few clients who would like this done... I'm happy to learn and I can't imagine that the ramp up time is going to be terribly long. Initial inspection suggests it's fairly straightforward, a matter, mostly, of applying sound information chunking principles.>>

Wish it were that simple, but it ain't. First, the easy part of the problem: PowerPoint has fairly primitive abilities to import text from Word. Since you only have a couple levels of heading and of body text available, you have to greatly simplify the structure of a Word document before Powerpoint can deal with it. If the source documents are at all complex, you'll go nuts trying. You'll also have to experiment a bit with how to format the Word file so that Powerpoint recognizes it (e.g., restrict your styles to Heading 1 and Heading 2, plus Normal and List bullet; insert a manual page break between slides). But all this is the easy part.

The really hard part: Word documents tend to be rather <ahem> wordy. Moreover, policy documents bear little relationship to training documents. In addition to eliminating vast expanses of mind-numbing policies and procedures prose to leave only the 50-some words that fit legibly on a typical slide--a formidable task in itself--you'll have to convert the rhetorical approach from one based on vomiting forth large quantities of prescriptive and proscriptive regulations to a rhetorical approach based on instructional design. Not a trivial task.

In my experience, it's usually simpler to create the PowerPoint files from scratch, using the Word documents solely as reference material. Only simple Word documents translate nicely into Powerpoint, and even then, it helps if you write them specifically so they'll translate nicely.

<<How long might it typically take an experienced person to convert 30 Word .DOC pages (in the typical *yawn* policy manual style) into .PPT?>>

Doesn't matter in the least how long it _typically_ takes. The correct question to ask is: "How long will it take me?" And the only way to answer that question is to try converting a couple of pages. Then you'll know how long it'll take _you_.

<<As I understand it, he's only interested in making the .PPT it look pretty with consistent styles, the client logo, some images placed strategically to illustrate concepts and generate interest, etc. .PPT.>>

That's a recipe for failure. The goal is to communicate, not make it pretty. As Vinton Cerf noted, "power corrupts; Powerpoint corrupts absolutely". Don't let yourself become corrupt. If you're interested, my article "Powerpoint presentations: a speaker's guide" just appeared in the March 2004 issue of _Intercom_. (Strategically timed to help presenters at the May STC conference. <g>) It won't help you much with the technology, but will give some good guidelines on how to use the technology effectively.

<<This looks pretty straightforward to me>>

With the caveats mentioned above, it is pretty straightforward. Powerpoint has decent "master slide" and "slide layout" options. But they're not nearly as sophisticated as what Word offers, so you have to be aware of the need to simplify.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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Converting .DOCs to PPTs: From: kelley

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