PowerPoint slide design – the basics

by Olivia Mitchell

I am not a designer. I was awakened to the possibility of improving the design of my PowerPoint slides by the Presentation Zen blog. Since then I have observed and analyzed examples of good design, even read some design books – and of course read the Presentation Zen book.

These design tips are not for bullet-point slides. I’m assuming you’re beyond that (if not start reading Presentation Zen).

These design tips are for the Assertion-Evidence format – this is gaining ground as the brain-friendly yet easy to put together alternative to bullets. The assertion-evidence slide format was developed by Professor Michael Alley. At the top of the slide is the assertion – a simple sentence which expresses the message of the slide. The rest of the slide is the evidence to support that assertion – expressed in a visual way. Ellen Finkelstein calls it the Tell ‘n’ Show slide format. Dave Paradi is using the format for his excellent slide make-overs.

This post will cover the basics – in the next post I’ll explore how to add some elegance.

1. Use a neutral background – either dark or white. You can add interest to the background by adding a gentle gradient or other subtle effect. Gentle and subtle are the key words here. Most PowerPoint templates are too busy to work well with graphics.

2. For any text, use a sans serif font such as arial or verdana. Choose a contrasting colour to the background.

fonts

3. Make photos fill the whole of the slide.

small-photo full-photo

4. Use good quality photos without clutter. I use istockphoto as my first port-of-call when I’m looking for photos as I can be sure that they will look good and it’s fast. If you search for “sparkler” on istockphoto, the first page brings up many good quality photos. The same search on the flickr creative commons page only turned up one photo that I might use – and it’s not quite as good as the one above. John Windsor has an excellent post on ensuring your images are relevant. See also this post from Presentation Revolution. Research on e-learning by Richard Mayer has shown that images which are there simply to provide some light relief actually harm learning.

In the next post, I’ll look at how you can add some elegance.

Other resources

Ellen Finkelstein’s post on 5 steps to slide design for non-designers

Related Posts with Thumbnails
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Michele May 19, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Love your insight! I’m struggling with my powerpoint background design printing. There is always a white border around the pages when I print (my designs bleed to the edge). I want to bleed to print. Any suggestions?

Reply

Olivia Mitchell May 20, 2009 at 9:29 am

Hi Michele
I’m not at all an expert in this area – but I know that my printer is not physically capable of printing to the edges. Maybe that’s the problem. Olivia

Reply

Carmen Nge March 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hi Olivia,

I stumbled upon your website while doing searches on Malcolm Gladwell, who is my hero! But as a lecturer in a university in Malaysia, who struggles with trying to design the best slides for class lectures, I must say you are now my new hero!

Your insights are so helpful, so clear and so applicable to what I do. Thank you so much for all the amazing information and I am definitely sharing your site with all my colleagues too. I am sure it will improving our teaching.

Have a wonderful day and thank you so much.

Reply

Olivia Mitchell March 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

Hi Carmen
Thank you so much for your lovely comments and go well with your teaching.
Olivia

Reply

Buchana@gmail.com June 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

I view something truly interesting about your web site so I saved to my bookmarks .

Reply

kitchen Renovations perth August 4, 2013 at 2:36 am

Not only is this ugly, but it looks archaic. The base
cabinets can be completed even faster. The contractor will take your ideas,
return to the office, and draw up floor plans
for the remodel small bathroom cost.

Reply

viagra phentermine home November 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

It is important to consider the amount of food along with the standard and quality of food.
A man who plans to save weight , he or she should
drink up to 7-9 cups of water every day. Dieters
can see weight loss of one pound a day, depending on their starting weight.

Reply

[Plumbing Austin|Emergency Plumbing Austin|Plumbing Contractors Austin|Emergency Plumber Austin] January 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Other architects like Louis Sullivan added further innovations and skyscrapers began dotting the American urban landscape and soon lands abroad as well.
The tactic utilizes vegetated natural programs to impede and filter the water.
As the tile gets wet from the water leak, the tiles may begin to come loose,
so you need to check and find out if that’s the case.

Reply

Accident Lawyer in Denver January 13, 2014 at 4:26 am

The treatment is relatively painless and gives very good results for
those that are good candidates. The spacing of procedures is recommended to give the follicles that were in
their “resting” state or not actively growing during your preceding procedure to
get in their active phase and grow hair. There are some number of sessions generally depends on many parameters
including the area of the body being treated skin
color coarseness of hair of body reason for hirsutism
and gender. The Photo – Wiz Photo – Freebies collection contains 11 different plugins that are quite useful when making color adjustments to a digital photograph.

For this problem, laser revomal cost is not unreasonable, due to the
problem covering only a small area.

Reply

DUI Lawyer In Fort Myers January 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm

It is the advice given that will help you decide on the right tools to use in reaching your goals.
When you are in this particular ill-fated circumstance, you will need an expert DUI attorney in
your favor to make sure that your own legal rights will be protected.
The fee is the first factor which has to be considered.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 6 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: