How to Use Overhead Projector Papers

By Mindi Orth

Use an overhead projector to share information.
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While it's old-school technology -- literally -- an overhead projector often provides a beneficial addition to your presentation arsenal in a pinch. Unlike other digital projectors, however, an overhead projector uses transparency paper placed on the glass bed rather than a video connection to create the images displayed. As a result, proper preparation of the transparency paper is crucial for a successful presentation.

Create your document or presentation materials and then print to the transparency paper using your printer. Use a larger font for easier viewing. Alternatively, you can use wet erase or permanent markers to create your presentation on the transparency paper by hand.

Turn on the projector and wait for it to warm up. Then position a portable screen in the desired location or clear wall space if projecting on a wall.

Place your transparency face up on the glass bed of the projector and position so your document appears centered on the projection screen. Find the focus dial on the arm that extends over the screen and adjust the focus until the transparency projects clearly.

Verify that you can view your presentation clearly. If you find the text too small, recreate the transparency using a larger font or larger print.

Items you will need

  • Transparency paper

  • Wet-erase markers (optional)


Select the transparency paper that coordinates with how you intend to create the transparency. For example, select paper compatible with a laser printing to print your transparencies on a laser printer or select paper compatible with inkjet printing to print your transparencies on an inkjet printer.

Use a pointer or pencil to point to the transparency during the presentation. This helps draw the audience’s attention to the information.

Use a paper towel or soft cloth to remove the wet-erase ink from handmade transparencies. This enables you to reuse the transparency, which helps to save money.


Turning the projector light on and off repeatedly can shorten the lifespan of the bulb. Place a piece of paper over a transparency rather than turn off the projector when taking a brief break from your presentation.