Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® as Desktop Publisher

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Senior Citizens Services, Inc
City & State:
Organization's Mission Statement


A community partnership providing programs, recreation, and services which encourage active, healthy, independent lifestyles for people 50 years of age and greater.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Executive Summary:

Our innovative application of Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® has significantly increased the range of members served by Senior Citizens Services, Inc (aka Rochester Senior Center) of Rochester, Minnesota, and has enhanced the quality and impact of a key marketing/communications project (newsletter: “The Center Piece”).

We have successfully used PowerPoint to replace a major desktop publishing application (we will refer to it as “App-X”). The use of PowerPoint has benefited us immensely by:

a) Enabling the production of a superior product (the “new” newsletter),

b) Saving production time and labor with the “publishing” capabilities of PowerPoint and the close integration with other (mainly Microsoft Office) software applications,

c) Saving money on costly updates to App-X which was only used for this one task (publishing the newsletter), and

d) The elimination of the significant training time that was required by App-X whenever there was a change in staff or staff assignments.

The bottom line… PowerPoint used as a desktop publishing application has:

a) reduced the labor and production time required to develop the newsletter from 70+ hours to about 20 hours every month, a savings of over 600 hours a year, and

b) increased the quality and appearance of the newsletter.



Project Overview:

The newsletter (“The Center Piece”) is published by Senior Citizens Services, Inc. on a monthly basis to 1700+ people and serves as our main communications channel for important information to our members, donors, and the broader community. Initially, the Senior Center was using a major desktop publishing application (“App-X”) to produce the newsletter. This application required months of training time to use it for the creation of (and editing of) the newsletter. All content for the newsletter was entered manually into “App-X” because we were unable to establish needed electronic connections to the other applications (other formats) where the source data resided. The process of developing the newsletter with App-X required between 60 and 80 hours of work each month.


Project Details:

  • Enter PowerPoint… PowerPoint was clearly designed for “slides” and on-screen presentations, but we quickly recognized that the capabilities of PowerPoint could be easily applied to the production of our monthly newsletter which we publish much like a book. We started by setting the page (slide) size to the required hard-copy dimensions. Each “slide” held two pages of the final document. Space (a gutter) was left between the two pages for the binding. Graphics were then created for the news items and placed on the slides. Businesses which contributed to the cost of the newsletter submitted their ads which we also copied/pasted onto the newsletter pages. As Staff members created content (Microsoft Word), this information was pasted onto the pages of the newsletter.

Birthdays: We were viewing another database (“App-Y”) with membership data and noting Members’ birthdays each month. Member names and dates were then manually entered into App-X for the actual newsletter. Proof reading and entering this information was time consuming but obviously very important.

  • Enter PowerPoint… Back in App-Y we used the same query as before for member names with birthdates in the upcoming month but now exported the information in *.xls format. In minutes (instead of hours) the member birthdays were imported into the newsletter. Accuracy improved significantly and the new process requires less than one half hour (a savings of 3+ hours each month).

Meal Menus: Monthly menus are supplied to us from other organizations. During the time of App-X, this information was re-entered manually into App-X for inclusion into the newsletter. To make matters worse, we needed to publish two menus each month so this process was duplicated again.

  • Enter PowerPoint… We are now able to receive the menus electronically and can easily paste them into the newsletter. This saves several hours of effort every month and eliminates the possibility of injecting errors into the menus.

Graphics: Although App-X provided great graphic design capabilities, the power could not be utilized because of the complexity.

  • Enter PowerPoint… With PowerPoint, the graphic elements can be created easily within the application or imported when necessary. The ease of including photographs of our Members allows us to make the newsletter more personal than it was before.

Draft Copies: The draft copy of the monthly newsletter had to be printed for proofreading, revisions and final editing. Due to the large page size, a large format printer was obtained just for this purpose. The investment in the printer, the cost of the large paper, the cost of the printing supplies (ink) and the space taken by the huge printer were a huge strain on our organization.

  • Enter PowerPoint… The draft copies of the newsletter are now sent electronically to one or more people (via shared file server) for proofreading. The reviewer(s) can now simply email the corrections back to the editor.

Camera Ready Copy: The final proof for the newsletter was printed again and this “camera ready copy” (all 10 – 15 sheets) was then physically delivered to the publisher 50 miles away. This caused additional printing expenses, more volunteer hours to make the delivery, and added transportation costs (and delays).

  • Enter PowerPoint… When the final changes are made to the newsletter, the “presentation” is converted to Adobe® ACROBAT® format (*.pdf). This pdf file is then “compressed” appropriately for print and sent by FTP to the publisher for printing. The savings in time, effort and expense are immense.

The Web: As more of our members, donors and friends moved to the Internet, we needed to make the newsletter available through this channel. App-X did not make this easy.

  • Enter PowerPoint… Since we began using PowerPoint each newsletter is uploaded to our web host and is included on our web site. Our members, donors and community can view the upcoming month’s newsletter at any time, as well as our catalog (archive) of previous newsletters. The savings we achieved with PowerPoint allowed this and other benefits to be provided to our Membership.

Summary: The benefits achieved with Microsoft Office has been quite significant to our organization. The time and expense that has been saved since we began using PowerPoint as a publishing application has enabled us to increase other services provided to our members. The quality of the end product (the newsletter) has also improved greatly since incorporating PowerPoint as a desktop publishing application. The collaboration that is possible within the Office Suite of applications has created a positive impact on our non-profit organization, which in turn creates a positive impact on senior citizens living in our community.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Project Image
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