PowerPoint How To's

  • Use a straight-forward page layout
    Simple page layouts help the viewer focus on the content rather than the design. Place page titles at the top of each page to guide the viewer through the organization of the presentation. Use bullet points phrases (about seven lines per slide) so that your audience can pay attention to your verbal elaboration instead of reading paragraphs of text on the screen. Be aware of the path the viewer's eye will take when looking at each slide, and be consistent in your page layout to avoid confusing the viewer.
  • Apply good design principles in your typography
    Use a sans serif font for digital presentations and a serif font for print presentations. The clean lines of sans serif fonts allow text to be recognized on-screen easily, and serif fonts ensure readers of print to read large amounts of text easily. Examples and more information. A good range of font sizes for your presentation slides is 20-60 points. Be consistent with your choice of typeface, type size, and colors from slide to slide.
  • Use color effectively
    Color can keep your viewer interested in your presentation, but too much color or colors that clash can be very distracting and even difficult to read. Three colors are often all it takes to make an appealing presentation. For text in your presentation, use a color that stands out from the background. More information on color usage.
  • Add graphics
    Incorporate graphics (clip art, photographs, icons) with discretion. Use one graphic per slide if possible. Use graphics that will add visual interest to the presentation, but avoid using graphics that will distract the viewer.
  • Use animation carefully
    When using animation in presentations, add effects that will enhance the presentation. Be consistent so that your viewer will not be confused or overwhelmed.
  • Incorporate multimedia
    Multimedia can enhance your presentation, but too many visuals may distract the viewer. You may use videos, but some video formats are not compatible with PowerPoint.
  • Be aware of copyright laws
    Copyright laws apply to PowerPoint presentations. Use videos, images, etc. only with permission from the copyright owner. Refer to our page on Copyright for more information.
  • Maximize compatibility by converting the presentation to PDF
    Because not every student may have PowerPoint or may have a different version of PowerPoint, IMG recommends that you convert your presentation to a PDF in order to make it available to the most users. To view a PDF document, a user will download Adobe Reader, which is free software. Many users will already have this software on their computers. However, you must use Adobe Acrobat to convert the presentation to a PDF. This is not free software, but our IMG lab is equipped with the latest version of Adobe Acrobat.
  • Choose a format appropriate for your audience
    You may use Canvas both as a platform for accessing presentations for class sessions and for students to reference outside of class. To get the most out of the color, multimedia, and animation you incorporated into your presentation for use in the classroom, upload the PowerPoint file to Canvas, keeping in mind compatibility between PowerPoint 2003 and 2007. (PowerPoint presentations saved with the extension .pptx will not load properly on a computer equipped with PowerPoint 2003 without the Microsoft compatibility pack, which may be downloaded for free.) Students accessing your presentation outside of class will likely print it out for reference, and you have several options for reformatting the presentation. You may choose to upload slides, handouts, notes pages, or an outline, and you may choose to convert the presentation to black and white. You will need Adobe Acrobat to save your presentation in these formats (see previous tip). For help converting your files or uploading to Canvas, contact IMG at 844-5181.
  • Remember the purpose of PowerPoint
    PowerPoint is a presentation tool that can help you engage your viewers and enhance your information. It is not a replacement for the presenter (you), but it can serve you in your effort to communicate effectively with your audience. An entertaining recap of the use of PowerPoint.

If you or your students have any best practices to share, or if you have any questions on how to implement any of the best practices, please contact IMG at 844-5181.

Last Updated: Sept 10th, 2010

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