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Pointers for Successful PowerPoint Presentations
Tips for Creating | Tips for Showing


Tips for Creating Presentations


  • A general guideline is to use no more than six lines per slide.
  • Use simple, short sentences and parallel construction.
  • Whenever possible convey ideas with images--people retain visual information better than text.
  • Check spelling, homonyms, and meaning--print a copy and ask someone else to proof it.
  • When using graphs and charts, use text sparingly.


  • Use Sans serif fonts such as Arial, Franklin Gothic, Gills Sans, Helvetica or Avante Garde. They are simpler, clearer, and show up better on the screen.. Serif fonts such as Times and Palatino tend to blur when projected.
  • Use fonts 24 points or larger so that your audience can read your presentation. The size of your fonts should be limited by how far your audience will be from the screen. The greater the distance, the larger the font needed.....
  • Choose fonts which suit your message. What feeling tone does your font convey? A font for a humorous presentation may not be appropriate for a business meeting.
    Use italic fonts sparingly--they can be difficult to see.
  • If you are planning to show you presentation on a computer different that the one on which you author the presentation, it is better to choose Adobe True Type fonts as these can be "embeded" and included with your presentation. (If you click on Font in the Format menu, TrueType fonts will have a TT to the left of the font name.) See number item two under "How to Avoid Techo-Disaster" below for instruction on embedding.


  • Colors can can set moods.
  • Be aware that colors have different meanings in different cultures.
  • You may use color to imply relationships.
  • Use colors which complement one another.
  • Some males have a hard time seeing red, green, and purples.
  • Light colors on dark backgrounds are easiest for audiences to see.
  • Avoid colors which do not provide enough contrast. For instance, red letters on a dark blue background are almost impossible to see.


  • When placing scanned images in your presentation, be sure to scan them with a resolution of about 100-150 ppi. (Macintosh computers have a screen resolution of 72 ppi and pc's have a resolution of 96 ppi.) Images scanned at a greater resolution merely use up space and slow down your presentation.
  • Recommended image size is 640 x 480 pixels.
  • Image file formats are important. Use Gifs when you want a small file and detail doesn't matter. JPEGs are great for pictures where range of color is important, but they lose detail. TIFFs provide superior clarity and detail but are large files (seven times larger than JPEGs).

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How to Avoid a Techno-Disaster! (or Tips for Showing Your Presentation)
  1. Maximum viewing distance for your audience is six times the size of the screen diameter. If you have a 30" X 40" screen, the maximum viewing distance is 20 feet. The best viewing distance is 2 to 8 times the heighth of your presentation screen.
  2. If you have used non-standard fonts or symbols in your presentation, be sure that you have included any unusual fonts with your presentation. If the computer on which you display your presentation doesn't have fonts or special symbols, it will substitute fonts and symbols in an unpredictable way.(Embed your fonts by using the File--Pack and Go command and check the "Embed TrueType Fonts" in the "Links" category in the Pack and Go Wizard dialog window. Note that you may only embed TrueType fonts. If you click on Font in the Format menu, TrueType fonts will have a TT to the left of the font name.)
  3. If possible, test your presentation on the computer and projector the day before. Be sure that the version of PowerPoint you created your presentation with is on that machine or use the "Pack and Go" command and pack a PowerPoint viewer with your presentation
  4. If you have movie or sound clips in your presentation, be sure that you have checked the "Include linked files" button in the Pack and Go Wizard dialog window under "Links."
  5. Test any movie clips to see if the processor speed of the machine used for display makes the movie slow or jerky.
  6. View your transitions and special effects to see if they are too slow or too fast on the machine. Also check to see if they are unslightly due to pixelation.
  7. If you have included sound effects or sound clips or movie clips with sound, test the speakers on the computer. See if the speakers distort sound. Check to be sure that sounds can be heard from the back.
  8. Have a backup plan in case of the techno-gremlin. Prepare 35 mm slides, or overhead transparencies and the technology to support them, or plan to work with the audience from your handouts. The only essential ingredient to your presentation is you!

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Page Maintained by: Corryn Crosby-Muilenburg
Page Last Modified: June 6, 2002
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