PowerPoint slide design – adding elegance

In my last post, I gave some basic advice on PowerPoint slide design. Now let’s add some elegance.

1. When you add text to a photo, make sure it is easy to read. You can add a mask (a rectangle of partly transparent colour) between the text and the photo. In the example below right the transparency is on a gradient so that it fades seamlessly into the photo.

signposting-bad signposting-good

2. Make blocks of colour more interesting by adding a subtle gradient and removing the line round the outside.

insultation-solid-bars insultation-gradient-bars.

3.  Use shapes with rounded corners. A book on the technical aspects of blogs that this was a “Web 2.0 design sensibility”! I think they just look more classy.

shoe-angled shoe-rounded

4. Experiment with asymmetry. As a non-designer, I used to think that everything had to be symmetrical – often centred on the page. But symmetry can be boring. Compare the two slides below.

symmetry1 asymmetry1

So you don’t have to be a designer to be able to design good PowerPoint slides. These are just some of the techniques that I’ve gleaned from looking at other people’s slides that I’ve liked. You can do the same. If you’ve got some design tips, do share them in the comments.

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  1. One really useful tip I’ve found: With photos that don’t quite fill the slide background (e.g. if the signpost photo at the top of your post was square, so it didn’t fill the slide’s width), usually you can duplicate the photo, flip the duplicate and then butt it against the original to cover the rest of the slide without the trickery being evident to the audience. (The mirrored signpost itself would be invisible to them, off the edge of the slide.)

    That works well where the photo’s background is very subtle (e.g. clear blue sky) but not completely uniform. (Plain white or black in your other 2 photos blends seamlessly with the slide background anyway of course, so no trick needed in those cases.)

    P.S. Just discovered your blog and love it! Downloaded the free guide yesterday and the 3-question format is a revolution for me! (I’m just digesting how it fits with my current style, modelled from “Winning Presentation in a Day” by Rhonda Abrams, which is a great book & also uses a 3-part approach.)

    • Hi Craig
      That’s a very clever hack! Thanks for sharing it.

      And I’m delighted that you’re enjoying the blog and that you’ve found the Guide useful.



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