Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Microsoft Applications

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Advanced Slide Formatting and Design

Getting the organization of your entire project as well as the individual slides is crucial for any successful PowerPoint presentation. But we live in an age where we ignore image at our peril. Chances are your audience expects at least nice-looking slides, so in your quest for a knockout presentation, you should spend some time on the formatting and design aspects.

Slide Design Guidelines

Getting the slide design right is no easy task because you must strike a balance between giving your audience the eye candy they expect and not overwhelming your message with too many formatting bells and design whistles. With this balance as the goal, here are some design guidelines to bear in mind when constructing your knockout presentation:

  • Consider your audience, because some designs will suit certain audiences better than others. For example, if you’re presenting to children, a bright, happy design with kid-friendly images will work, whereas a plain, text-heavy design will induce naptime. On the other hand, if you’re presenting to managers or the board of directors, you’ll need a design that gets straight to the point and has little in the way of design frills.

  • Consider your company’s image. I mean this in two ways: First and most obviously, if your company has a set color scheme or style, your presentation should reflect that. Second, if your company is known as one that’s staid or bold, serious or fun, your presentation should not conflict with that image.

  • Be consistent across all your slides. This means using the same typeface and type size for all your titles, using consistent bullet styles throughout the presentation, using the same or similar background images on all slides, and having the company logo in the same place on each slide. The more consistent you are, the less work your audience has interpreting the formatting for each slide, so the more they’ll concentrate on your content.

  • However, don’t use the same layout on every slide. To help keep your audience interested, vary the layout from slide to slide: Title Only, Text and Title, Text and Content, Content Only, and so on.

  • For the typeface, use sans serif fonts (the ones without the little "feet" at the letter tips), such as Arial, Comic Sans MS, Microsoft Sans Serif, and Verdana. These typefaces are easier to read than serif typefaces (the ones with the little "feet") and are a much better choice than fancy, decorative typefaces, which are very difficult to decipher from a distance.

  • For the type size of your slide content, don’t use anything smaller than the default sizes. In particular, never use a type size smaller than 20 points because it will be nearly impossible for your audience to read. If your audience is older, or if you’re presenting in a large hall, consider using type sizes even larger than the PowerPoint defaults.

  • For maximum readability, there should be significant contrast between the text color and the slide’s background color. Dark text on a light background is best for overhead presentations; if you’ll be presenting using onscreen slides of 35mm slides, use light text on a dark background, instead. Finally, don’t use a background image unless it’s relatively faint and the text stands out well against it.

  • Always use the landscape (horizontal) orientation for your slides. The portrait (vertical) orientation reduces the available width, so each bullet point takes up more vertical space, which makes the slides look overcrowded.

  • Finally, and perhaps most important, design your slides so that they don’t include too much information. Each slide should have at most four or five main points; anything more than that and you’re guaranteed to lose your audience by making them work too hard.

Using the Slide Master to Get a Consistent Look

One of PowerPoint’s templates might be just right for your presentation. If so, great! Your presentation’s design will be one less thing to worry about on your way to an effective presentation. Often, however, a template is just right except for the background color or title alignment or font. Or perhaps you need the company’s logo to appear on each slide. Using the template as a starting point, you can make changes to the overall presentation so that it’s just right for your needs.

However, what do you do if your presentation already has a number of slides? Isn’t it a lot of work to change the background or alignment or font on every slide? Well, yes, it is. Fortunately, PowerPoint offers a much easier way: the Slide Master, which is available for every presentation. The Slide Master acts as a kind of "design center" for your presentation. The Slide Master’s typefaces, types sizes, bullet styles, colors, alignment options, line spacing, and more are used on each slide in your presentation. Not only that, but any object you add to the Slide Master—a piece of clip art, a company logo, and so on—also appears in the same position on each slide.

Viewing and Editing the Slide Master

The beauty of the Slide Master is that any change you make to this one slide, PowerPoint propagates to all the slides in your presentation. Need to change the background color? Just change the background color of the Slide Master. Prefer a different type size for top-level items? Change the type size for the top-level item shown on the Slide Master.

Earlier, you saw how to use the Slide Master to modify the footer layout (see "Customizing the Footer Layout"). Here’s a review of the methods you can use to open the Slide Master, shown in Figure 3.9:

  • Select View, Master, Slide Master.

  • Hold down Shift and click the Slide Master View icon.

Figure 3.9

Figure 3.9 Each presentation comes with its own Slide Master, which acts as a "design center" for the slides.

With the Slide Master open, you can format the text, background, bullets, and colors as though you were working in a regular slide.

Using Multiple Slide Masters

Although having a consistent look among your slides should be a prime design goal for any knockout presentation, that doesn’t mean you have to use precisely the same formatting and design on every slide. Some of the most effective presentation designs I’ve seen are ones that apply a particular design to groups of related slides. Why would you need to do this? Here are some examples:

  • For a budget presentation, you might use a green color scheme on income-related slides and a red color scheme on expense-related slides.

  • In a presentation that includes both sensitive and nonsensitive material, you could add a "For Internal Use Only" graphic to the slides with sensitive material.

  • If your presentation has multiple authors, you might want to display the author’s name, signature, or picture on each of the slides he or she created.

This would seem to defeat the efficiency of the Slide Master, except that PowerPoint allows you to have more than one Slide Master in a presentation. You can then apply one of the Slide Masters to the appropriate slides, and any changes you make to that Slide Master will affect only those slides.

To create another slide master, you have two choices:

  • To create a default Slide Master, open the Slide Master view and then select Insert, New Slide Master (or press Ctrl+M).

  • To create a duplicate of an existing Slide Master, click the Slide Master and then select Insert, Duplicate Slide Master. This technique is useful if your new Slide Master is similar to an existing Slide Master. By duplicating it and then tweaking the new Slide Master as required, you avoid having to create the new Slide Master from scratch.

When you display the Slide Design task pane (select Format, Slide Design), you see in the top part of the pane a section titled Used in This Presentation. This section includes the Slide Masters that you created. To apply one of these Slide Masters, select the slides you want to work with and then click the Slide Master.

Ensuring Good and Consistent Design

Despite your best efforts to follow design guidelines and ensure a consistent look throughout your presentation, you may make a design faux pas or two. These things happen to the best of us. To help you avoid or catch these small mistakes, you can enable PowerPoint’s style checker. This feature works something like a spelling or grammar checker—it examines your presentation and looks for style errors and inconsistencies:

  • Inconsistent use of uppercase and lowercase letters in title and body text.

  • Inconsistent use of "end" punctuation, such as not having a period at the end of each paragraph.

  • Using too many fonts.

  • Using title or body type sizes that are too small.

  • Using too many bullets on a single slide.

  • Using too many lines in titles or bullets.

This is a list of many small things that contribute mightily to the large goal of consistent and proper design that is the trademark of any knockout presentation.

To turn on style checking and customize its options, follow these steps:

  1. Select Tools, Options.

  2. In the Spelling and Style tab, activate the Check Style check box.

  3. Click Style Options to display the Style Options dialog box, shown in Figure 3.10.

  4. Figure 3.10

    Figure 3.10 In the Style Options dialog box, use the Case and End Punctuation tab to check for uppercase and lowercase letter style and the punctuation used to end paragraphs.

  5. Use the lists in the Case group to determine the style of uppercase and lowercase letters to use in slide titles and body text.

  6. Use the lists in the End Punctuation group to specify whether title and body paragraphs use punctuation (such as a period) at the end. If you choose Paragraphs Have Consistent Punctuation in either list, and you end your paragraphs with a character other than a period, enter that character in either the Slide Title or Body Text text box.

  7. Select the Visual Clarity tab, shown in Figure 3.11.

  8. Figure 3.11

    Figure 3.11 In the Style Options dialog box, use the Visual Clarity tab to set limits on the fonts, text sizes, bullets, and lines used in your presentation.

  9. Use the controls in the Fonts group to set the maximum number of fonts and the minimum type size for titles and body text.

  10. Use the controls in the Legibility group to set maximum values for bullets, lines per title, and lines per bullet.

  11. Click OK.

Creating a Custom Color Scheme

If you want to avoid the drudgery of getting your text, line, background, and fill colors to match, PowerPoint comes with a dozen predefined color schemes that do the hard work for you. To select a color scheme, click Slide Design, Color Schemes in the Task pane, and then click the color scheme you want (see Figure 3.12).

Figure 3.12

Figure 3.12 Select Slide Design, Color Schemes in the Task pane to see PowerPoint’s predefined color schemes.

If a particular color scheme isn’t quite right for your needs, or if you want to create a color scheme to match your company colors, you need to create a custom scheme. Follow these steps:

  1. If you want to base your custom color scheme on an existing design, click the color scheme in the Slide Design, Color Schemes pane.

  2. Click Edit Color Schemes. PowerPoint displays the Edit Color Scheme dialog box, shown in Figure 3.13.

  3. In the Scheme Colors group, click the slide object you want to work with.

  4. Click Change Color to display a color dialog box. (The dialog box that appears depends on the object you’re working with.)

  5. Choose your color and then click OK.

  6. Repeats steps 3–5 to modify the colors of the other slide objects, as needed.

  7. If you want your custom scheme to appear in the Slide Design, Color Schemes pane, click Add as Standard Scheme.

  8. Click Apply to apply the color scheme to your presentation.

Figure 3.13

Figure 3.13 Use the Edit Color Scheme dialog box to create your own custom color scheme.

Replacing Fonts

I mentioned earlier that it’s an important design guideline to use typefaces consistently throughout your presentation. Sometimes, however, typefaces can become inconsistent. For example, you might insert some slides from another presentation that uses a different font; you might collaborate on a presentation and the other person might use some other typeface; or you might start using Verdana or Helvetica instead of Arial.

Whatever the reason, going through the entire presentation and replacing the wrong fonts with the correct ones isn’t why they’re paying you the big bucks. Fortunately, you can avoid this drudgery by using PowerPoint’s Replace Font feature. Here’s how it works:

  1. Select Format, Replace Fonts. The Replace Font dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 3.14.

  2. Figure 3.14

    Figure 3.14 Use the Replace Font feature to replace all instances of one typeface with another.

  3. Use the Replace list to select the typeface you want to replace.

  4. Use the With list to select the typeface to use as the replacement.

  5. Click Replace.

  6. If you have other typefaces you want to replace, follow steps 2–4 for each one.

  7. Click Close.

Changing a Picture’s Colors

It’s a common source of presentation frustration: you find the perfect piece of clip art for a slide, but the picture’s colors don’t go with your color scheme. Rather than rejecting the picture outright, you can use PowerPoint’s Recolor feature, which enables you to change one or more of the picture’s colors for something more complementary to your presentation design. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Click the picture.

  2. In the Picture toolbar, click Recolor Picture. (Alternatively, double-click the picture, select the Picture tab, and then click Recolor.) The Recolor Picture dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 3.15.

  3. Figure 3.15

    Figure 3.15 Use the Recolor Picture feature to change a picture’s colors to ones more suitable to your presentation’s color scheme.

  4. In the Original column, click the color you want to change.

  5. In the New column, click the list beside the color you chose in step 3 and click the new color you want.

  6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to change any other colors you need.

  7. Click OK.

Some AutoShape Tricks

PowerPoint’s AutoShapes are handy objects that can add design flair to a presentation without getting in the way of the content. If you use AutoShapes frequently, the next few sections present some tips that you should find useful.

Drawing Circles and Squares

To draw a perfect circle instead of an oval, click the Oval tool, hold down Shift, and then draw the shape. To draw a perfect square instead of a rectangle, click the Rectangle tool, hold down Shift, and then draw the shape.

Drawing Shapes Quickly

Rather than clicking a shape tool and then drawing the tool on your slide, PowerPoint offers a faster way to get a default shape: hold down Ctrl and click the shape tool. PowerPoint adds a default shape in the center of the slide. You can then move, size, and format the shape as needed. You can also hold down Ctrl and Shift and then click Oval or Rectangle to get a quick circle or square.

Setting the Default Formatting for an AutoShape

If you find yourself constantly applying the same fills, line or arrow styles, or colors to a specific AutoShape, you can set that formatting as the default for the shape. There are two ways to do this:

  • In the Format AutoShape dialog box, select the Colors and Lines tab, choose the formatting options, and activate the Default for New Objects check box.

  • In the slide, right-click the shape and then click Set AutoShape Defaults.

Copying Object Formatting

If you want to copy the formatting from one shape to another, the easiest method is to click the shape with the formatting, click the Format Painter tool, and then click the other object. To apply the formatting to multiple objects, double-click the Format Painter tool, click each object, and then click the Format Painter tool to deactivate it.

That works well enough, but PowerPoint also has a tool that "remembers" an object’s formatting indefinitely, which is handy if you want to apply a particular shape’s formatting to different objects over time. Select View, Toolbars, Customize, select the Commands tab, and then click Format in the Categories list. Drag the following tools to a toolbar:

    Pick Up Object Style—Click an object and then click the icon to have PowerPoint "remember" the formatting of the object.

    Apply Object Style—Click an object and then click the icon to apply the "remembered" formatting to the object.

Duplicating Shapes at Evenly Spaced Intervals

You can create effective designs by duplicating a particular shape multiple times. Although it’s not hard to copy a shape (hold down Ctrl and drag the shape), it’s quite difficult to get the same distance between the duplicates. Happily, PowerPoint can do this for you. Click the shape and press Ctrl+D to create the first duplicate. Use your mouse to drag the duplicate to the correct position. This tells PowerPoint how far away you want each duplicate and in which direction. Press Ctrl+D again and PowerPoint creates a third shape that uses the same spacing as the second. Keep pressing Ctrl+D to create more duplicates, as shown in Figure 3.16.

Figure 3.16

Figure 3.16 After you establish the spacing between the first and second shapes, press Ctrl+D to create duplicates with the same spacing.

Setting the Default Font for Shape Text

By default, PowerPoint uses 18-point Arial for the text you type in a shape. You can format the text in a specific shape, but what if you want all your shapes to use the same font? You can set this default font by first clicking any shape that includes text. (If you don’t want to apply the new font formatting to an existing shape, click an empty section of any slide so that no placeholder or object is selected.) Then select Format, Font, and make your choices in the Font dialog box. Activate the Default for New Objects check box and click OK.

Wrapping Text Within a Shape

If you want to display a shape such as an oval or rectangle with text inside, you don’t need a separate text box. Instead, draw your shape and then type the text. PowerPoint automatically centers the text within the shape. To prevent the text from spilling over the shape borders, right-click the shape and then select Format AutoShape. Select the Text Box tab and activate the Word Wrap Text in AutoShape check box. If you prefer that the shape expand to accommodate the text, activate the Resize AutoShape to Fit Text check box.

Hiding Slide Master Shapes in a Slide

If you add a shape to the Slide Master, it will appear on all the presentation’s slides. If there is a particular slide in which you don’t want the shape to appear, you can hide it. First, right-click the shape, and then click Format AutoShape. In the Colors and Lines tab, pull down the Color list in the Fill group and select the Background option. This gives the shape the same background as the portion of the slide background that lies underneath the shape. You should also pull down the Color list in the Line group and select No Line.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020