Biology 133



How to print PowerPoint Lecture Notes

For most classes, I post my lecture notes in advance on both the college's web server and the college's intranet.  I may post the notes in two forms - PDF files, which can be read by anyone with a web browser (although you might have to download the free adobe reader software), and the native format - usually either PowerPoint or Word. Since free readers are available for PowerPoint and Word I am increasingly just posting the notes in those formats.

The purpose for providing the notes is simple:  There is too much material and I talk too fast for someone to come to class and write down everything I say.  Also, if most of my lecture is on PowerPoint I don't use the board as much so I'm not writing things on the board - a sure sign of what to take notes on.  Having the pre-printed notes in front of you enables you to add additional notes and pay attention to what I am saying and what I'm showing to you, instead of your being heads-down concentrating on writing.

The notes are NOT an excuse not to come to class.  The notes are NOT a reason to avoid writing SOME notes of your own.  Merely reading from the prepared notes will NOT get you a decent grade.  That said, about 90% of what is on the tests and quizzes will come either from the notes or the assigned reading.

There are a few tricks to printing out the notes.  If it is a Word file you can print just as easily from the PDF or the Word version; both will be very similar.  If it is a PowerPoint presentation (slides) than things are a bit trickier.

 First, do NOT print a PowerPoint lecture out from the PDF files - that will give you 1 slide per page.  It will waste a lot of paper and take a lot of time.  You want to print 3 or 6 slides per page.  This can be done using the Print Menu in PowerPoint, which means you will have to work from the file in its .PPT version:

Printing Notes from Powerpoint:

1.  Open the file in PowerPoint.  All College computers have this program loaded, if your personal computer does not.  The lecture files are located in two places:

1. On the internet server linked from the web page devoted to the class (

2. On the intranet in the Biology folder under general/classes/name of class

It depends on the computer you are using as to which of the lettered drives on My Computer will take you to the biology folder.


2.  Use the File:Print menu item (not the print icon from the tool bar) to open the printing dialog:

3.  In the print dialog, select "handouts" from the "Print What" drop-down box:
4.  Now, double-check all of the other settings:
  • Be sure you have the right printer selected.
  • Generally, you want to print ALL of the slides (but see below)
  • Be sure you have selected Handouts
  • I generally recommend 3 slides per page.  PowerPoint then adds a few ruled lines for notes.  This setting is a good compromise as most of the text will be legible (although labels on illustrations may not be) yet you are saving paper and you have enough room to add notes (a practice I highly encourage).  6 or more slides per page is more economical, but they are so small as to be almost useless.
  • I generally choose grayscale as I am usually printing from a laserwriter which does not have color anyway.  The other choices are pure black and white, which will render some of the images unreadable, or color, which is usually slower and more expensive.  If you are using your own color inkjet printer you might want to choose grayscale as well to speed up printing and draw most of the ink from the black cartridge, which is usually cheaper to replace.
  • Scale to fit paper doesn't hurt.
  • I generally frame the slides, but that is up to you.

5.  You can now hit OK to continue with the printing, or Preview to see how things will look.


Several other things to keep in mind when printing notes:

1.  Remember that the point is to have a visual cue in class, not a complete version of the lecture.  If you need to see details on an illustration or the colors on a photograph, go back to the original lecture on the computer.  Remember you can download the file onto a flash drive or onto your own computer, or merely access it online any time you have an internet connection.

2.  In some classes, particularly zoology, the majority of slides may be simple pictures of organisms.  You may want to go ahead and print these out as well so that you can take notes on them (for instance, drawing arrows to features used to identify the animals).  Other students don't see the need for this, and rather than waste paper they open the PowerPoint presentation, delete all the slides without text, and print what is left (this is usually quicker than telling PowerPoint what slides you do want to print).

3.  In some cases, the notes I will present in class will not be exactly like the ones online.  Maybe I will edit the lecture at the last minute, after you have printed out the file, or perhaps there is something I want to be a surprise for pedagogical reasons.  I will point this out in class; usually it is only a minor difference.




Note: Some of the documents available on this page are provided in 'pdf' format.  If the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in is not installed on your computer, it can be obtained from the following web site.