Best Practices for Presentation Design
Benefits of applying best practices to your presentation design:
- Slides and the presentation in general should be clean and simple.
- Include a title slide, a slide with an agenda or objectives, and a blank slide at the end.
- Use graphics to highlight points, explain concepts visually, or to add a bit of visual interest to the presentation (but be careful to not overdo this!).
- Don't put too much information in your presentation. You don't want your slides to be a transcript of your narration!
- Use animations, sound, and video sparingly to give them more impact when they are used.
If your audience will include individuals with visual disabilities, see the last reference linked below for tips on how to address disability issues in PowerPoint.
Color can add a certain atmosphere to your presentation or highlight important points. Your subject matter may lend itself naturally to a color or two. You should also make color selections based on readability and the location of your presentation.
- Consider one of the following types of color schemes
- Achromatic: Black, white, and shades of grade
- Monochromatic: Different shades of the same color
- Analogous: Different colors next to each other on the color wheel
- Complimentary: Colors are opposite each other on the color wheel.
- Select two or three colors and stick with them throughout the presentation.
- Use the same colors consistently throughout the presentation (i.e. use the same color for all titles, each level of text, and all backgrounds).
- Use a dark background with lighter text if you are presenting in a dark room. Use a light background with darker text if you are presenting in a bright room or if you are creating overhead transparencies. If you use an image as a background, make sure it is not too busy and does not distract from the content on the slides.
- Make sure there is enough contrast between colors so they can be easily distinguished, especially background and text colors.
- Sans serif fonts (i.e. Arial, Helvetica, Verdana) are more readable than serif fonts (i.e. Times New Roman, Garamond, Palatino).
- Stick with standard fonts that can be found on most computers so you can be sure that your presentation will display properly on different computers. Arial and Times New Roman are standard fonts. If you use a non-standard font, embed the font in the presentation to make sure the presentation will display properly on any computer.
- Your text should be larger than 18 points so it is easily visible. Titles and headings are usually slightly larger.
- Large blocks of text are often ineffective. Use bulleted phrases instead.
- Slides should have no more than 6-8 lines each.
- Use bold, italics, or color for emphasis on specific words.
- Use no more than two fonts in the presentation.
- Leave space between lines for easier reading.
- Avoid using all CAPS, except on a title slide.
WPI provides official logos & PowerPoint templates you may wish to use. Download the templates.
Morton, J.L. (2005). Color theory. Retrieved June 7, 2005, from the Color Matters Web site.
NCTE/IRA. (2004). PowerPoint design tips. Retrieved June 7, 2005.
Shaw, G. R. (2000). The incredible, accessible presentation. Retrieved June 7, 2005.
Last modified: Aug 21, 2008, 12:18 EDT