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PowerPoint: Design Tips

Information for the BC Community

PowerPoint slide

SOME BASIC RULES FOR MAKING IMAGES LOOK GOOD IN POWERPOINT (adapted from Eileen Fry, Slide Librarian, Indiana University)

  1. Don't use any of pre-designed templates. USE A BLANK PRESENTATION AND A BLANK LAYOUT.
  2. Use a dark or black background. Most images look best against black.
  3. When using text, don't use fancy fonts, as other computers may not display them. Stick to Arial, Times New Roman, etc. Plain, sans serif fonts...
  4. Start with the best and biggest images you can as LONG AS THEY ARE JPEGs. Don't use TIFF images in Powerpoint, as they can cause the program to slow down or freeze.
  5. You can make a big image smaller by grabbing a corner and moving it. Be sure to use the corner. Moving the top, bottom, or sides will change the aspect ratio of your image and make it look distorted, but DON'T MAKE SMALL IMAGES BIGGER THAN THEY ACTUALLY ARE. This will make them very fuzzy. The exception is that sometimes very large images will be inserted at postage-stamp size. These you have to enlarge. See How can I determine how big my image is? When in doubt about whether an image will look good when projected, use your Slideshow icon to see how it will look to your viewers.
  6. You can make many types of corrections to images in Powerpoint, cropping, brightening, some color improvement, etc. For additional image-editing capabilities, process your images using Photoshop or similar applications (or a website like PicMonkey) before inserting them into Powerpoint.
  7. You can put any number of images on the same Powerpoint slide. Try to think about the points you actually want to make and create a Powerpoint slide that works best for each point: single big images for important pieces, multiple images for concepts, big or multiple details, quotes, graphics to highlight particular areas, etc. As side-by-side horizontal comparisons are the most difficult thing to do with a single data projector, use those only when you are making true comparative points.
  8. You can repeat Powerpoint slides as needed. You can repeat elements in Powerpoint slides as needed. You can use Powerpoint slides you have created in other presentations and modify them.
  9. Don't be afraid to be creative with size, number and arrangement, but also watch out for Powerpoint slides that are too cluttered. Focus on the point you are making and the image itself. For large venues, like conferences, use large images and simple Powerpoint slides. You can't count on having more than the screen size you are used to.

Other Useful Links

Creating & editing a basic PowerPoint presentation (PC)

Creating & editing a basic PowerPoint presentation (Mac)

Viewing (presenting) your PowerPoint presentation

Working with digital images

Boston College Information Technology Services training schedule

Ponte Sisto, Rome

Bottom image courtesy of Saskia, Ltd.
Ponte Sisto, Rome (15th century)