5 principles of good slide design


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A presentation designed to be given live to students learning about slide design for the first time.

Feel free to hide the last slide if you want to use it yourself.

I have included speakers notes for each slide but obviously these are for guidance only.

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  • Don’t have anything on the slide that you do not need. If you answer the question “Why is that there?” by saying “because it looks nice” or “it looks cool” then get rid of it. If the answer is “because it illustrates my point” or “because it makes this slide stand out” or “because it makes that piece of text stand out” then keep it.Don’t let slides become “busy”. Don’t use unnecessary animation. Don’t use really fancy fonts or word art – they will just make it harder for your audience to read.
  • PowerPoint is not a program designed to pass text from one person to another. That is the purpose of Word.If you limit the text on a slide then your audience will listen to you – which is why you and they are there. It also means your text can be big enough for the audience to read.If you need to put a chunk of text on a slide – for instance a quote – then shut up and give your audience the time to read it.
  • Always make sure your graphics are good quality. Nothing looks less professional than grainy or blurred images. The same is true of cartoons and ClipArt– only use them if the presentation is meant to be funny or if you are giving a presentation to children.
  • Without using a PowerPoint theme. Mine here is clearly hands but it does not have to be that restrictive. You need to keep a sense of continuity. At the very least keep to a constant colour scheme and font choice. A constant colour scheme does not mean all your slides must have the same background colour – but if you use different ones you should keep to a limited palette to that if it is the background colour on one slide, it could be the shape colour of font colour on the next.You should never use more than one font (and its variations) in a presentation. With images, you should try and stick to images in the same “family”. I’ll explain what I mean by that when we look at sourcing images later.
  • Always think about the colours you are using. Don’t make a choice lightly.The most important thing to do is make sure your text is readable. You must have good contrast between the text and the background. Remember that projectors play havoc with this so you must always make sure your contrast is as good as you can make it. If you have a coloured background, your main text should be black (for light backgrounds) or white (for dark backgrounds). If you have a white background (like this one here) you should use coloured text. You can also use coloured text if you want to have a highlight colour but keep the contrast high.Use a limited palette for a sense of continuity. If you want something to stand out, give it a bright colour so that it attracts the eye (like the word “colour” here). This is particularly important in charts or diagrams. Usually you want the audience to notice something – so make it easy for them by making is stand out from the rest.
  • 5 principles of good slide design

    1. 1. 5<br />The principles of good slide design<br />By Jacqui Bartram<br />ICT Learning Adviser<br />
    2. 2. 1: Simplicity<br />
    3. 3. 2. Limited text<br />
    4. 4. 3. Quality graphics<br />
    5. 5. 4. Avisual theme<br />
    6. 6. 5. Effective use of colour<br />
    7. 7. Jacqui Bartram is an ICT Learning Adviser at the University of Hull, United Kingdom<br />All images from photoxpress.com<br />