My Method for Preaching from My iPad

There have been many methods offered for preaching from the iPad. I have profited from what I’ve read about these processes and set-ups. But after experimenting with several, this is the method I have landed on.

First, I use PDF Expert as my app. I have used a couple others, but PDF Expert works best for me. All my sermon prep is done in Microsoft Word in a template I’ve set up for sermons. The size that works best for my eyes is to set the paper size in the template to 6.30 x 8.20 with the following margins:

.8 inches on top,
.3 inches on bottom,
.75 inches on left,
.5 inches on right.

I use a 15-point font (Helvetica). I’ve found that using a hanging indent for my paragraphs aides my eyes in seeing the paragraph separations and also allows me to mark the margins with symbols and notes.

After finishing my sermon notes in Word, I save the document to Dropbox as PDF (you will need a Dropbox account). Be careful, it is really easy to forget to save the document to Dropbox as a PDF.

Then I go to my iPad and open PDF Expert and sync. The rest of the preparation is done on my iPad. The first thing I do is to reverse the colors to “White-on-Black.” I have set up my Triple Click feature to reverse the colors so it is easy to do.

To set this up, go to:

Settings/General/Accessibility/Accessibility Shortcut/Invert Colors

This should enable the “triple-click” option for creating a negative effect. Just hit the home button three times quickly and the colors should invert.

Changing the background to black and the text to white cuts out glare from the lights and prevents the iPad causing my face to glow when speaking from it.

Then I mark up my notes with a stylus and the options in the app. I preach from the PDF Expert app.

Also, when preaching, I use airplane mode so that I don’t get any messages during the sermon and make sure the volume is always all the way down.

I’m sure there are other (perhaps better) ways to prepare sermon notes for the iPad. But this method has served me well for the past few years. Still, I’m always looking for ways to make it better. Let me know if you have any insights!

iad pic

23 Comments on “My Method for Preaching from My iPad

  1. Rick, thanks for posting this. I’ve been using an iPad for the past two years and, likewise, I’m always interested in “excelling still more.” I like your idea of inverting the colors to cut out the glare. Great idea! Appreciate your posts, always!

  2. Thanks for your help on this. It’s brilliant. The best tip is the triple-tap on the iPad button to reverse colors.

    I changed the font syle (because I don’t like reading from sans serif fonts); I adjusted the margins for a little more space per page (.3 on the sides; .5 on the top and bottom) and I made the paper size 5.75 x 7.25, because it fit better in Noteshelf. It looks as good as my paper notes, and it definitely saves headaches when traveling to preach multiple times (or when you need notes on the road and don’t have them with you).

    I’m in your debt forever.

  3. Hi, depending on your notes style, I’ve found just writing your manuscript in markdown and exporting it as an ePub to iBooks or kindle works great. You can reverse the lettering, change the font size on the fly, high light and annotate on the go (although the annotation isn’t as good as a PDF.) You also have the option of cycling back and forth between a manuscript and an outline via the table of contents.
    Check it out here: http://www.pastorryanhayden.com/video-tech-tip-for-pastors-the-best-way-to-get-a-sermon-ready-to-preach-on-a-tablet/

  4. Help..I can invert colors manually but when I tap 3 times it doesn’t invert.

  5. Which PDF Expert did you download? There are about 3 that has that name. Some cost and some are free in the APP store. Thanks for sharing this Phil. Great tip. Pastor Rick Prevost Bakersfield, CA

  6. Thank you so much for this tip Rick! I am trying to follow your preaching. What is the best way to listen your sermon on internet? Thanks

  7. Thanks Rick for the assistance. I had switched to iPad when I went to India last September and had to preach/teach a whole lot more than usual. The church graciously bought a new iPad Air for me and I’m still trying to perfect preaching from it. I never thought about the airplane mode. I always hated when right in the middle of sermon a sports score or a news flash would come across my screen! :) Thanks again!

  8. Rick, when you described going into settings, I was looking at the settings in PDF Expert and I finally figured out you meant the settings on the iPad. Now, I finally got it.

  9. Well, that seems like a lot of work. I use Pages as my App. I prepare my sermons in MSWord on my mainframe, save it, then email it to myself. I can automatically open it in Pages and do any further set ups I want. Two fingers and I can adjust font size on the fly. There are others, but that is the simple way for me. And by the way, I don’t invert the background for white on black. The glow on my face makes me look angelic.

  10. I use GoodReader because I can flip each page rather than scroll as in Pages. Can you flip the pages in PDF Expert or does it scroll? I much prefer flipping pages over scrolling!

    • Yes Dean, you can flip pages in PDF Expert. You can set the app to either scroll or flip. But like you, I much prefer to flip the pages!

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  12. Rick, thanks for this! I’m ready to give it a try. Bought the app, but when I reverse it, the highlighting in color feature goes away. What am I doing wrong? Thanks, David Hegg

  13. Good seeing your this week. Wanted to let you know I put this into use in my Church History class this past week. Thanks for the helpful article.

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  15. Is there a particular stylus that you like? Are all created equal? Thanks.

      • Thank you very much. I noticed there is a newer model, but it supposedly is not as good for note taking. Any advice there? Do you even use your stylus for taking notes or do you have a keyboard? Grateful for you and your ministry.

  16. Thanks for sharing your set up. Will give it a try. I’ve been preaching with the ipad since they first came out and have tried lots of apps and configurations, but I’m always eager to learn a better way. At present I do nearly all my sermon prep on Word (Office for Mac 2011) in standard letter size with 12 pt font (Adobe Garamond Pro), and 1″ margins. I find that way easier to compose and edit initially. When ready to export I set the font to 26 and all margins to .4. Then, I do a ‘print to PDF,’ save in Dropbox, and open in PDF Expert. However, I leave the app itself in night reading mode so when ever I open a sermon it’s always set as white on black background.

    Thankful for your insights…

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