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Best Practices for Inserting Media into PowerPoint  

Cross-Platform guide to inserting audio and multimedia elements into PowerPoint for best interoperability between Mac version and Windows version.
Last Updated: May 13, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Audio Files

Inserting Audio Files

In PowerPoint 2008 (Mac), inserting audio files is handled by the menu labeled Insert and then Sound and Music > From File.

In PowerPoint 2007 (Windows), inserting audio files is handled by the Insert tab on the Office Ribbon (the toolbar area at the top of the window),  the Sound button, and then Sound from File

When selecting audio files for insertion into a PowerPoint that you are going to be displaying on a computer that is in a classroom or on another system that is running Windows and you have a Mac or the reverse, it is best to use an audio file that will play on both systems without the need for dependencies.  The best format for cross-platform presentations is the MP3 format.  If your file is not in an MP3 format, there are excellent converters out there or your media software (e.g. iTunes) may be able to convert the file into MP3. 

Files purchased from proprietary online retailers like the iTunes Store or Rhapsody may come with restrictions that do not allow them to be converted into the MP3 format.  These files, sometimes using the m4p, m4a, or ram file extensions, will not be able to reliably be used in PowerPoint presentations if they play at all. 



Video Files

Inserting Video Files

In PowerPoint 2008 (Mac), inserting video files is handled by the menu labeled Insert and then Movie

In PowerPoint 2007 (Windows), inserting video files is handled by the Insert tab on the Office Ribbon, Movie button, and then Movie from File.

When selecting video files to include in a PowerPoint presentation that can be played on either a Mac or Windows machine, keep in mind that not all video files will be able to play on both operating systems.  There are two file formats that should play reliably on both operating systems.  The Windows Media Video or WMV file type should play on both (Mac systems may need to install additional software).  The QuickTime or MOV file type will play on any system with iTunes and Quicktime installed on it.  Files in other formats may play on one or both machines, but these two file types are the most reliable to use between these two operating systems. 

This assumes that you have the movie file located on your computer. To include YouTube clips in your presentation, the easiest thing to do is to create a link that goes direclty to YouTube. However, doing so will assume that you have a connection to the internet when doing your presentation. If this assumption cannot be made, you should first download the YouTube video to your computer. This cannot be done through YouTube directly, but must be done through a third-party tool. Once the file has been downloaded, you can embed it in your presentation following the instructions above.



Best Practices

Creating PowerPoint presentations for use on multiple machines can be at times daunting or confusing.  By following some simple guidelines, you will be able to create PowerPoint presentations that will display properly on both Windows and Macintosh computer systems.  This guide is written for Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and Microsoft PowerPoint 2008 for Mac. 

Getting Started

When creating your PowerPoint presentation, it is best to create a folder for the presentation - especially if you are going to be inserting media files into it.  This will ensure that your presentation will be able to find the files when it is asked to play them.  In both the Mac and the Windows Environment, locate, copy and paste your media files (audio and/or video) into the folder that you created for the slideshow before you start building your PowerPoint.  If you have more files to add as you go along, copy and paste them into the folder for the PowerPoint first.



Image Files

Inserting Image Files

In PowerPoint 2008 (Mac), inserting image files is handled by the menu labeled Insert and then Picture

In PowerPoint 2007 (Windows), inserting video files is handled by the Insert tab on the Office Ribbon and then Picture.

In the case of image files, PowerPoint (both versions) will import the image into the slideshow.  When using images in PowerPoint, there are few things to keep in mind.  When you insert an image into a PowerPoint, the file size of the PowerPoint increases to include the filesize of the image.  For instance, if you inserted an image file that was 6mb, your PowerPoint would then be 6mb larger.  Image files used in PowerPoint to fill a whole slide do not need to be dimensionally larger than 800x600 for a standard definition presentation.  Images larger in dimension than this will be difficult to manipulate in the PowerPoint interface due to their size, but can be used.  Programs such as Preview (Mac) and GIMP (Mac and PC) can be used to resize your image file down to 800x600. 



Font Usage

If you have a font that you installed on your individual machine such as SBL Greek, SBL Hebrew, or another specialty font, you may experience difficulty when this font is rendered on a machine that does not have that font installed.  In some cases, SBL Greek and Hebrew will not render in PowerPoint on another machine even if the font is installed.  This behavior is most often spotted by text that no longer fits in the assigned area or by blocks and irregular characters that do not reflect what is shown on your computer's screen.

The easiest remedy for this problem is to have PowerPoint export the slide or slides that have this font in use as image files that you can then insert into the slideshow as image objects.  If you want to use animation on the slide when using this workaround, you will need to use an image editing program such as Preview (Mac) or GIMP (Mac and PC) to snip out the individual lines of text you want to animate. 



Transporting Your Presentation

To take your presentation from your personal computer to the computer that you will be presenting on, you have two options.  Now that you have your media files in a folder with the presentation file, you can copy that folder to a flash drive that has sufficient space on it.  If the total filesize of your presentation folder is less than the attachment limit in place on your email system (ranges from 5mb to 25mb depending on provider), you can compress the folder into the zip format and email it.

On Windows machines, you can right click on the folder and choose Send To > Compressed (zipped) Folder.

On Macintosh machines, you can Ctrl-click or right click on the folder and choose Compress

In both cases, a file that contains the presentation and associated media files will be created with the file extension of ZIP.  This can then be emailed to yourself or to someone you would like to share it with.  The file will need to be opened on the presentation machine and uncompressed - both operating systems will be able to do this in a logical manner that will then recreate your folder on that machine.


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Note: This guide does not begin to approach the legal issues of copyright law as relate to media files.  

The following are guidelines and places to start for information on copyright.  Please consult with a specialist in this field or a knowledgeable librarian who is familiar with this area of law to make sure you are abiding by the appropriate legal statutes related to classroom use of media.

Emory University Woodruff Libraries Copyright and Publishing

Emory University Office of Information Technology Copyright Infringment

Columbia University Copyright Information

Stanford University Fair Use

University of Texas Copyright


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