A Case of Mistaken Identity
Google Slides is a cloud-based application for delivering and collaborating on presentations. It is not intended to be used to create layouts and page designs for print and digital media.
If you use Slides to create a sketchbook for your Art subject then you must be aware of its limitations and how you can take steps to overcome them.
The Limitations of Slides
The industry-standard application for designing a creative art portfolio or sketchbook that caters for both print and digital output is Adobe InDesign. If you choose to continue your studies in an art subject beyond Barton, you’ll be unlikely to use Slides again for this purpose. For now, however, you’ll need to make Slides work for you, and the best way to do that is to firstly understand some of its restrictions.
- Slides is not optimised for printing. Your typical Slides user may never print. If they do, it’s likely to be a set of handouts to accompany their presentation. Trying to print a 60-page deck of A3 slides, full of imagery and artwork, is not what the developers have in mind when they are working on Slides. Expect a lengthy wait to print any more than a few pages at a time.
- Slides has a size limit on images. If you upload an image larger than 2,500 pixels by 2,500 pixels, Slides will resample your image. This means that if you create an image that fits an A3 page at 300 dpi, then Slides will resample this when you upload it. You might not see the effects of this until you refresh or reopen the Slides file.
- Slides adds compression to all images. Any image you upload to Slides will be compressed to reduce its overhead. In one way, this is a good thing as it will shorten the time it takes to navigate and print your document. On the flip side, you might notice some reduction in quality of your images when printed. This is often seen as artifacts, a “haze” around objects, or the blurring of sharp edges.
- Slides can struggle to render graphic effects. In certain cases, Slides can struggle to output graphic effects such as gradients and transparency. This is more likely to be an issue when Slides sends your document to print.
- Slides can add or remove functionality at any time. Slides is a live product that Google is continually updating behind the scenes. Google only prefers to publish changes that it thinks are relevant to users, so the way Slides handles images, for example, could change at any time and without notice.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to help. While you can’t “solve” these inherent issues, you can soften the impact of them on your work, saving you time in the process.
- Only print small sections at a time. Instead of trying to print the entire document, focus on printing smaller page ranges. You may find that Slides struggles to generate the print preview before you can select a page range. In this case, you’ll need to highlight the slides you wish to print and select File > Make a copy > Selected slides. This will create a new Slides document containing only those slides you wish to print.
- Be aware of your image size. Slides currently has a cap of 2,500 pixels by 2,500 pixels for uploaded images. If your image has pixel dimensions larger than this, then it will be resampled. For images occupying a small part of the page, this generally won’t be a problem, but for images covering more than half an A3 page, you might notice a reduction in quality. Images such as contact sheets, which cover a large proportion of the page, should be split into smaller sections before they are uploaded.
- Check the output before you print. Always look through the print preview for any issues before you print. You can also print to a PDF to check your work before you spend your valuable print credit: just change the selected printer to Save as PDF.
- Try downloading as a PDF. Some printing issues with Slides can be solved by first downloading the file to a PDF using the File > Download > PDF document (.pdf) menu command. Note that this is not the same as printing to a PDF as the created file can differ.