Slide Presentation Design Basics

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Difficulty: Beginner
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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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