Making PowerPoint slides more readable

We have all experienced presentations where the slides have not been helpful or are difficult to engage with. You could ask your colleagues to reflect on poor slide shows that they have experienced. What made them poor? What would have improved them? You can introduce this prompt sheet used at BCU as part of your plenary discussion.

Making PowerPoint slides more accessible

Remember – the plainer, the better!

  • Use plain pastel coloured backgrounds and avoid patterned backgrounds.
  • Black text on a white background is hard for many people to read. A dark background with light text is best for dark rooms, and vice versa for lighter rooms.
  • Only use one or two text colours, one or two font styles and one or two animation / transition effects
  • Do not rely on the use of colour alone to convey meaning, as colour blindness is quite common. For example, avoid writing things like ‘please see the titles in red for the main key points of this discussion’.
  • Use a sans serif typeface such as Arial or Verdana (other fonts can blur when enlarged or re-photocopied and are generally harder to read.
  • Use a minimum of point 28 or 30.
  • Use mixed case rather than blocks of upper case.
  • Minimise the use of italics and capitals in the main body of any text; they are harder to read than standard mixed case. If you do need to highlight a word or phrase in the text then use bold rather than underlining or italics as these approaches can make words ‘run together’.
  • Align text to the left margin, ragged right margin and preferably one and a half line spacing. Avoid justifying text.
  • Use bullet points rather than excessive continuous prose.
  • Put key information in boxes.
  • Use bold headings.
  • Do not include too much information on one page. A maximum of 6 bullet points is optimal, with one subject matter per slide.
  • Use images carefully and avoid your slides looking too ‘busy’ as this can be very distracting.
  • If you are using complex diagrams, you must ensure sufficient colour contrast.
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Source: Birmingham City University