| TechNote #139:
Equations on animated PowerPoint slides are low quality images
The information in this document applies to:
- MathType, all versions (Windows)
- Microsoft Equation Editor
- Microsoft PowerPoint
2002, 2003, and 2007 (Windows)
In Microsoft PowerPoint slide show view,
equations on slides with any animation present are of low quality and look
pixelated when shown in Slide Show view, whereas equations on slides with no animation are of normal high
quality. Text looks fine in both cases.
In order to prevent delays when displaying the slide on the screen in Slide Show
view, the graphics
rendering engine in PowerPoint displays a lower-quality equation image, which is
smaller and can be drawn faster by the computer. On slides that are not
animated, this is not an issue, and equation objects display at full resolution.
Compare these two expressions, both of which are screen shots taken from Slide
Show view in PowerPoint 2007:
|Expression from a slide with
||Expression from a slide with
The only real solution to this issue is to upgrade to PowerPoint
2010, since this issue has been fixed in that version, but clearly this is not
an option for everyone. In the meantime, there are two workarounds we can
suggest, each of which offers its own advantages. You can use both
techniques in the same presentation if you want, but that generally won't be
necessary. On slides with no equations present, use animation the way you
normally would. To handle equations on slides that contain
any animation, whether text, equations, drawing objects, or anything
else, we recommend one of these two methods:
Method 1 -- Simulating animation with multiple slides
This method doesn't use animation at all; rather, it uses slide transitions.
(Animation refers to the movement or appearance/disappearance of
objects within a single slide. Transition is the animated effect of
transitioning from one slide to the next.)
- We will be using slide transitions to simulate animation.
For this reason, this technique will not work if you are using
"movement" animations/transitions, such as "fly from left",
"zoom in", or "wheel". It will only work with "appear"
animations/transitions, such as "appear", "fade", and
- As you begin to create the new presentation, choose your
design template or theme, then choose the Transitions
tab on the Ribbon (PPT 2007: Animations tab; PPT
2002 and 2003: in the Slide Show
menu, choose Slide Transition). Choose the
Dissolve transition for this example, and click
the Apply to All button.
- Build the presentation just as you normally would, up to a
just prior to the
first instance of an equation on an animated slide. Since we
used the Dissolve transition, you'll need to use the
example presentation up to this point, created in PowerPoint
2010 and saved in .ppt format so you can open it in any version
- From this point of the presentation (slide 3 in the example), until you finish
building the current "slide" (which will actually be several
slides), each item
on the slide requiring simulated animation must be added to a separate duplicate of
the slide. To duplicate the
current slide, right-click the slide in the Slides pane,
and choose Duplicate (or use the Ctrl+D
- Before you go further, you'll need to delete
the animation on this duplicate slide. On the Animation Task Pane, there is a Remove
button. Select all the animation on your slide and click Remove.
(If you're using PPT 2007 or 2010, this is not the same as the
Animation tab. The Animation Task Pane is to the right
of your slide.) On this
slide of our example presentation, we've added an equation:
- We have a couple more lines of text we want to add
after this matrix equation, so duplicate Slide 4 by following the procedure in
step 4. Any subsequent text or objects of any kind
may go on this slide unless the new items need to appear animated. If
there are more animations to follow, you'll have to continue
duplicating slides. Here's
our example after the latest additions.
Note: This method has the disadvantage of taking 3 or more slides
to do what 1 slide should be able to do, but the equations don't
require any special treatment like is required in Method 2, and
it looks nice to the audience.
Method 2 -- Using normal animation techniques and inserting equations as GIF
If you need actual -- as opposed to simulated -- animation on your equations,
and the "pixelated" look shown in the screen shots at the beginning of this
article isn't how you want your equations to look, this is the method for
you to use. For this method, you create your slides and apply the slide
transitions & animations that you normally would. The only thing you do
differently from normal is how you create the equations for your slides.
- You're probably accustomed to opening MathType from the
MathType toolbar or Ribbon Tab in PowerPoint, but we won't do
that for this method. Open MathType
from the Start menu.
- Set the MathType Style to the same font as you're using in
PowerPoint (Style > Define),
and also the Size (MathType Size >
Define). This is normally either Calibri 32pt or Arial
- Set the GIF resolution by choosing Web and GIF
preferences from the Preferences menu,
and set it to 384.
- Create the equation in MathType, and save it (choose
Save from the File menu), remembering
where on your computer you saved it.
- In PowerPoint, choose the Picture command
from the Ribbon's Insert tab (PowerPoint 2002
and 2003: choose the Insert Picture From File icon on the
- Insert the MathType image you just saved, then while it is still selected,
change the size to 25% of the original (choose Size and Position
from the right-click menu, and set the Scale to 25% --
for PowerPoint 2002 and 2003: Right-click > Format
Picture > Size > Scale).
- Follow these steps for each equation that's on an animated
slide and then proceed as you normally would to complete your