Slide Presentation Design Basics

Slide Presentation Design Basics


Well designed slide presentations can be an effective way to communicate information.



Slide design is critical for maintaining audience engagement and content retention.



  • Stick to key concepts. Slides should support your content, not deliver it.
  • Keep slide density low. 20 words or less per slide is ideal.
  • Use large font sizes (no less than 28 point).
  • Use a limited color palette (3-5 colors).
  • Slide contrast should be high (dark background with light text or reversed).
  • Avoid bullet points where possible. Varying slide layout will help maintain audience attention.
  • Avoid overwhelming your audience with visual clutter and animations.
  • Use high quality images and avoid stock themes. Stock themes tend to incorporate distracting visual elements that will compete with your content.
  • Know when to add content to a slide versus creating a separate handout for your audience. Printed PowerPoint slides should not be a substitute for a handout with additional details or resources.



  • Know the resolution of the computer/projector you will be using. You can specify the slide size/ratio to maximize the visible projected content. Changing size requires additional editing.
  • Adding additional multimedia elements to a slideshow may require you to test this on the machine you will be presenting from.
  • Slide presentations may appear differently on different operating systems (Windows vs Mac).
  • If using nonstandard fonts, they should be embedded before transferring between computers.


  • Reynolds, Garr. Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations. Berkeley, CA: New Riders, 2010.
  • “Top Ten Slide Tips.” Garr Reynolds Official Site. <>.

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