Slide design can be very subjective but there are some rules that are objective. These rules ensure that your slide is easy to understand and remember. When you use these rules, you can create clear slides that no one will struggle to comprehend. You’ll find that these rules are general enough to allow for lots of creativity and flexibility in your design.
I’ve broken up the rules into a few categories.
Rule 1: The background shouldn’t be so busy that it attracts attention to itself and away from the slide’s content. This includes logos, footers, etc.
Rule 2: The background should leave enough space for your content.
Rule 3: The background color should contrast highly with the text color.
Rule 1: The text color should contrast highly with the background color — or the color of anything else the text is on, such as shapes, images, charts, or text.
Rule 2: The text should be big enough to be read by a person with mediocre eyesight at the back of the room. Even chart labels should be readable and main text should be even larger.
Rule 3: In most cases, text should be sans-serif (such as Arial, Verdana, or Tahoma) because it’s easier to read on-screen.
Rule 4: There should not be so much text on a slide so that your audience is reading while you’re talking.
Rule 1: Images should be of high-quality; use photos unless you’re creating an iconic look (such as the image for this post).
Rule 2: Images should be as big as possible without overwhelming text; they usually look best when they reach to the edges of the slide.
Rule 3: Images should help the audience understand and remember the point — and be persuasive, if that’s your goal. They shouldn’t be merely decorative.
Rule 1: Put one point or idea on a slide.
Rule 2: The audience should quickly know where to put their attention.
Rule 3: Objects on a slide should be orderly — no misaligned objects, for example.
Rule 1: All the text on a chart should be legible, even the axes.
Rule 2: Only include the data that is necessary to make the point.
Rule 3: A chart should be as simple as possible in its design, without losing clarity.
Rule 1: Only include the data or text that is necessary to make the point.
Rule 2: All the text in a table should be legible.
Free downloadable checklist!
Do you agree with these rules? Do you have others that you follow? Would following a list of rules like this help you design more effective slides? Leave a comment!
Excellent – and time-tested – advice!
Thanks for sharing your expertise!
Danny, glad that you liked it! Happy to share!
I downloaded the checklist (which I LOVE, thanks!) but can’t open it. What type of file is it? Tried Word, PP, excel, adobe reader, etc).
Karen, It’s a Word (docx) file. Are you using Word 2003? If so, I’ll send you a version for Word 2003.
Thanks, Ellen, I have Word 2010. I got it; I had renamed the file for easy reference for me. It had saved as a zip file for some reason, and I wasn’t looking for that.
Thanks Ellen. Your advices are always useful and needed. Thanks for sharing
The Ellen Finkelstein Guidelines are created specifically to get your slides out of your way.
Thanks for the sharing nice post!
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