Issue #147 November 13, 2007

PowerPoint Tip: Wide screen laptops

Almost every laptop sold today is a wide screen model. The native display resolution is great and allows you to put applications side by side when working. The problem is that most projectors are not wide screen and are lower resolution. This can cause frustrating display problems for presenters when the higher resolution is sent to a projector that doesn’t handle it very well. There is something you can do about this potential problem. In PowerPoint, you can set the Slide Show Resolution to be different than the regular resolution that your laptop normally uses. This is helpful because now you can output a resolution that is more compatible with projectors and have less issues when presenting. This setting is in the Set Up Show dialog box. I set my Slide Show Resolution to 1024 x 768, which is commonly known as XGA resolution and is the most common native resolution for projectors in use today. What this means is that when I switch to slide show mode, my display switches to the XGA resolution and the projector only sees a resolution level that it works well with. So how does it look on my laptop screen? Well, it depends. It depends on your graphic chip set and display settings, but one of two things will usually happen. Either your laptop screen will show a horizontally stretched version of your slides, or it will show a display that has black bars on each side and is not stretched. In both cases, your laptop will show only the same number of pixels as the projector shows, which is exactly what you need when presenting. One practice that also tends to help is to put your presentation into slide show mode before connecting to the projector. This seems to help because the projector only sees the correct resolution from the start. Otherwise, I have found a few situations where the projector picked up the wider display resolution and got a little confused. By setting your Slide Show Resolution setting to one that is more compatible with projectors, you reduce the probability of display problems when you present.