According to the meaning given by OED, “a piece of printed information provided free of charge, especially to accompany a lecture or advertise something.”


It is usually a printed document, which contains comprehensive and brief knowledge on any topic presented through power point presentation (ppt.), lecture, etc. The purpose of preparing handout is to give an understanding of the specific topic. The information is within hand’s reach of the reader or audience. It serves the purpose of note making and saves time and effort. It helps in retaining technical or complex ideas in physical form, presented through lecture or ppt. for later reference.

Elements: It should be crisp comprehensive and concise.

Content   Textual, pictorial, figurative, diagrammatical representation.

Structure It does not have a fixed structure and its length may also vary depending upon content.


Steps to be followed:

  • Plan: What, Why and How much information or data to incorporate in a handout.
  • Collect: Information, material and other data should be collected on the topic.
  • Analyze: Analyze data on the scales of relevance, conceptuality, authenticity, and priority.
  • Organize: Prioritise it with the urgent, placed before moving on to the important.
  • Present: This requires creativity. How less conveys more by balancing images, texts, charts, etc.

 Time for distribution of handout:

  • Before the presentation, programme or event- This is the most common practice adopted by the presenter. It gives beforehand knowledge, outline or skeleton of what will follow it.
  • In between the presentation, programme or event- Mostly presenters avoid this as it may become chaotic.
  • After the presentation, programme or event- This practice is also not so much in vogue because the audience might have already noted down important points of interest. Thus, the overall purpose of distributing handouts would be defeated.



Use direct and simple sentences Avoid verbosity
Visuals and content should complement each other Avoid complex sentences
The overall presentation should be effective Colours and images used should not distract attention


  • The audience has something to take home from the presentation or lecture.
  • Saves the time of listener from taking notes. It backs up ppt. and lecture.
  • May be used as a ready reference.


  • Limit using too many images, colors and text thus making it more a kaleidoscope. 
  • Restrict dependence on the handout solely as it is an accompanying document.
  • Too much reliance on handouts may increase the dependency of the students and their creativity and efforts may take a back seat.


  • Draft, redraft unless the desired result is achieved.
  • Get it proofread.
  • Prepare well in advance.

Warning: Avoid plagiarism while preparing handouts.