PowerPoint Design – Styling and Visual Elements

October 10th, 2006 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

PowerPoint has LOTS of cool features, but the key with Powerpoint is knowing what razzle to add and which dazzle to leave out!

Here are some tips for designing your slides:

  • Creating Master Slides Master slides are very useful. I usually recommend that the master slide is as close to blank as possible and that logos should not distract from the overall slide content and they should be kept as small as possible. Any other objects should be semi-transparent and photos or other graphics should be set to washout (watermark). (You’ll find both these settings by right-clicking on the object and choosing Format Picture or Format Autoshape. Change the transparency of an autoshape move the transparency slider along or type in a percentage. To washout and image click on the Picture tab and click the Color dropdown and select the Washout option.)
  • Stick to one or two fonts. Fonts without serifs (that’s the little ticks at the top and bottom of letters) are best.
  • Avoid too many colors. Stick to one or two colors that match.
  • Avoid eye candy, especially if it adds nothing to the content of the presentation. Also avoid clipart – everyone’s seen it before. If you really must use it, try getting it off a CD, or download some new ones from the clipart gallery or from another reputable source (watch out some sites offering free clipart are actually peddling viruses and spyware!)
  • Remember, less is more! Once you’ve learnt how to use all the bells and all the whistles, it’s time to learn how not to use them! Transitions, sound effects, things whizzing across the screen are all cool, but they distract and very quickly irritate. And the get real old real fast – anyone who sits through presentations regularly will tell you they’ve seen them all before! So as much fun as they are – don’t! (If you really want to go to town, save it for the office christmas party or your child’s birthday!)
  • Consider the size of video and images within your presentation. Although it may be easy to see while you’re creating the presentation on your desktop computer, it may be too small to see well when it’s on a big screen or from the back of the room. Consider making the video or image into a single slide, as large as possible.
  • Color and contrast Monitors and projectors in theaters and conference rooms can be badly calibrated. Sometimes you’re projecting onto a wall that’s not white. There can be many problems which are related to where your presentation will be shown – and you won’t know how that’s going to affect your work until the command performance (or at least your dress rehearsal!). So it’s best to plan ahead for these possibilities. For example when creating graphs and charts that use color to represent information always use vivid colors and avoid ’subtle’ colors that might bleach out in this way. Maybe consider avoiding the use of color altogether if you are trying to graphically illustrate something which requires many colors or where colors get hard to differentiate. Consider using shading or patterns instead.
  • This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 10th, 2006 at 9:48 am and is filed under PowerPoint. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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