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How to Convert PowerPoint to Word (Step-by-Step)

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In this article, you’ll learn how to convert PowerPoint to Word so that you can natively edit your handouts or speaker notes in Microsoft Word (instead of PowerPoint).

What about all the content on your PowerPoint slides?

Converting PowerPoint to Word does NOT convert the content of your slides into a Microsoft Word document. Instead, the process exports your slides as thumbnails in one of five following handout layouts:

The five hand options when converting PowerPoint to Word are Notes next to slides, blank lines next to slides, notes below slides, blank lines below slides and outline only

The five handout options when converting PowerPoint to Word are:

  1. Notes next to slides
  2. Blank lines next to slides
  3. Notes below slides
  4. Blank lines below slides
  5. Outline only

There is currently no way to convert the content of your individual slides - text boxes, shapes, SmartArt graphics, etc. - into a native Word document.

For that, you will unfortunately have to copy and paste your information manually, slide by slide.

However, you can follow the steps below to convert your PowerPoint slides into handouts, which you can then edit in Microsoft Word. On top of that, I've included a few alternative ways you can get your slides in Word in different formats.

Choose the method that works best for you and plow on with your work!


[Watch] Convert PowerPoint to Word (Speaker Notes Only)

Exporting your slides to Microsoft Word like this embeds your slides as thumbnails within a table in Word.

While you cannot edit the individual PowerPoint slides, you can manipulate the table to format your handouts any way you like.

To see an example of how to convert PowerPoint speaker notes to Word without the thumbnail, watch the short video below.

To learn more ways you can print PowerPoint with notes, read our guide here.


How to Convert PowerPoint to Word

To export your PowerPoint slides to Word, File tab, Export, Create Handouts, choose your handout type and click ok

To convert your PowerPoint slides into Microsoft Word handouts, simply:

  1. Navigate to the File tab
  2. Select Export 
  3. Click the Create Handouts section
  4. Select the Create Handouts command
  5. Choose your Handout Type
  6. Select Paste or Paste Link (explained below)
  7. Click OK

As a result, Microsoft Word opens and your PowerPoint slides are converted into handouts based on your previous selection.

For example, here's how it looks with blank lines next to slides in Word.

Example of the blank lines next to slides in Microsoft Word

Note: Instead of exporting all of your PowerPoint slides to Microsoft Word, you can also simply copy and paste the individual slides you want.

To do that, simply hit Ctrl + C to copy your slides in PowerPoint, and Ctrl + V to paste them into Word. To learn the differences between the Copy, Paste and Duplicate shortcuts, read our guide here.


At the bottom of the Send to Microsoft Word dialog box, you are given the option to Paste or Paste link (as pictured below).

In the Send to Microsoft Word dialog box, you can choose to Paste your slides or Link your slides

Paste: Exports your slides to Microsoft Word as a standalone file. Any updates or edits you make to your slides in PowerPoint will not be reflected in Word.

If you update your slides and want those changes reflected in Word, you will need to export your slides all over again.

Paste link: Exports your slides to Word as linked thumbnail images. Any edits you make to your slides in PowerPoint, will be automatically updated within the thumbnail images inside Word.

This is all great. However, there are two caveats to the Paste link option to be aware of. Read on to see what they are.


Caveat #1: Only the PowerPoint thumbnails are linked to Word

The link created only updates the thumbnails of your slides in Word.

That means that if you export your slides to Word with your Speaker Notes beneath the slides, and you later update those speaker notes in PowerPoint, your changes will not be reflected in the Word document.

If you update or edit your speaker notes in PowerPoint, you’ll need to follow the steps above to convert PPT to Word all over again, to have your changes accurately reflected.


The Paste link option is a one-way connection, from PowerPoint to Word.

Therefore, only updates and edits you make to your slides in PowerPoint will be updated in Microsoft Word.

If you change your PowerPoint theme, add additional content to your slide or even add new slides to your presentation, all of those changes will be reflected in Word.

But if you delete slide thumbnails in Word or move things around, none of those changes will be reflected back in PowerPoint.

In fact, any changes like these will be overwritten as soon as PowerPoint pushes its latest updates to Word.


How to view linked PowerPoint slides in Microsoft Word 

To view any linked files in Word, simply navigate to the File tab, Info group and select Edit Links to Files

To view any linked PowerPoint slides you have in Microsoft Word, simply:

  1. Navigate to the File tab
  2. Select the Info tab
  3. Click Edit Links to Files

This opens the links dialog box, which you can see below.

The links dialog box in Microsoft Word is where you can see your linked PPT slides that are in your document

This is where you can update, edit and manage any linked files to your Word document. Here is a quick rundown of what each of these options does:

Update Now: This forces Word to update based on whatever is in your PowerPoint file. This normally happens by default whenever you save your PowerPoint presentation, but you can control when this happens here.

Open Source: This will open the PowerPoint presentation from which these slides are linked. This can be faster than trying to find the original presentation you used to create your handouts.

Note: If you move your PowerPoint presentation to a different place on your computer or change its file name after you convert your slides to Word, the Open Source option will return the following error: This object is corrupt or no longer available.

Microsoft Word warning if your presentation has been moved or renamed on your computer

To fix this, simply use the Change Source option to re-locate the file. It's either in a different location on your computer or now has a new name.

Change Source: Allows you to change which PowerPoint file you are linked to. This is useful if you have updated the name of your PowerPoint file after you converted it to Word.

To maintain an active link between PowerPoint and Word, the PowerPoint file's name needs to be the same.

Break Link: Allows you to break the PowerPoint to Word links for individual slides. When you break a link for individual slides (as discussed further below), those specific slides will no longer update in Word, as you edit them in PowerPoint.

Update method for selected link: If you don't want your files to automatically update, you can choose to manually update them instead.


How to update a linked PowerPoint slide

There are two ways to update linked PowerPoint slides in Microsoft Word.

#1. Update linked PowerPoint slides by right-clicking them in Word

Right click your linked slide and select Update Link to update it

To update an individual linked PowerPoint slide in Word, simply:

  1. Navigate to the slide you want to update
  2. Right-click the slide's thumbnail picture in Word
  3. Select Update Link

Note: This only updates the slide you selected. If you want to update the rest of your PowerPoint slides, you'll need to right-click them individually or use the next technique to update all of your slides at once.

Updating a slide in the Links dialog box in Microsoft Word. File, Info, Edit links to Files, Update Now

To update all of your linked PowerPoint slides in Microsoft Word, simply:

  1. Navigate to the File tab
  2. Click the Info tab
  3. Select Edit Links to Files
  4. Select the slide you want to update
  5. Click Update Now
  6. Click OK

If you have multiple slides you want to update, you can continue selecting slides and updating them in Word.

If your updates are set to Automatic Update, you can also just close and reopen Word to have all of your links automatically update (as long as you have saved and closed your PowerPoint presentation).


How to break linked PowerPoint slides in Word

To break a link to a PowerPoint file in Word, navigate to the Links dialog box, select the link and click Break Link

To break the links between your PowerPoint and Word files, from within Microsoft Word, simply:

  1. Navigate to the File tab
  2. Click the Info tab
  3. Select Edit Links to Files
  4. Select the linked slide you want to break
  5. Click Break Link 
  6. Click OK

Because each PowerPoint slide thumbnail is considered a link, if you want to remove all of the links, you will need to click on each slide and break it individually.


How to insert PowerPoint into Word (as an embedded presentation)

An alternative to converting your PowerPoint presentation as handouts is to embed it inside of Microsoft Word.

When you do this, instead of inserting pictures of your slides, your entire PowerPoint presentation is is embedded, which you can then double-click to launch your presentation.

To embed a PowerPoint presentation in Microsoft Word, Insert Tab, Object drop down, Object, select your file and click OK

To embed a PowerPoint presentation inside of Word, from within Microsoft Word simply:

  1. Navigate to the Insert tab
  2. Open the Object drop down
  3. Select Object
  4. Choose Create from file 
  5. Click Browse
  6. Navigate to and select your PowerPoint file
  7. Choose Link to File (if you want changes to to automatically update)​​
  8. Click OK

As a result, your PowerPoint presentation becomes embedded in your Word document.

Example of a presentation embedded in Word

Conclusion

Those are the different ways you can convert PowerPoint to Word and all of the various options you have.

Whether you choose to link the two programs together (as discussed above) depends on how frequently you are going to update your PowerPoint slides. If you decide not to link them, you can always easily export your PowerPoint slides to Word whenever you update them.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about our online training courses and resources, you can visit us here.

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Updated on October 19, 2019

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