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Design 101: Basic Elements of a PowerPoint Deck

In the past, we tackled the core principles of design and observed how they can be applied to create effective PowerPoint slides. This time, we’re doing another design crash course. There’s no way to apply these core principles without full working knowledge of the basic elements of your PowerPoint deck.

Let’s take a closer look at the different design elements that turn each slide into a complete PowerPoint deck:

Color scheme

Colors play an important role in how we perceive the things around us. When we see a certain color, we automatically make automatic associations. For example, we often associate the color blue to calm and relaxation. When we see the color red, we see alertness or danger.

This is why the color scheme of your PowerPoint deck is crucial. Choose a color scheme that doesn’t distract from the core message you’re trying to convey. Aside from calm and relaxation, blue is often seen as a professional color. Pair it with gray to give it a more muted feel, and add a bit of orange for a rich contrast.

Note that there are plenty of nuances when it comes to colors. There are infinite shades of yellow and orange. Try to experiment with the plethora of choices you have with online tools like Adobe Kuler.

Images and other graphics

Another important visual element in your PowerPoint deck are the images, illustrations, and graphics you’ll use. We often talk about how visuals are important to a successful PowerPoint deck. Using graphics is the best way to ensure a more dynamic PowerPoint deck.

Of course, there are still a few things to keep in mind when adding images and other graphics. Keep your PowerPoint deck sleek and professional by choosing photos that are interesting and straight forward. You can also use icons to emphasize key points in a slide, instead of the usual bullet points.

You might face a problem with using a variety images, though. Notice that your images don’t have a cohesive look, especially if you found them through different sources. The best solution is to add the same filters to each one. Use any photo editing tool to give your photos a similar look. PicMonkey is great for beginners.

Charts and graphs

When presenting complicated data, charts and graphs are your best friend. Your PowerPoint deck might end up 50 slides long without them.

powerpoint deck elements - charts and graphsLuckily, PowerPoint makes it easy for you to create charts and graphs. All you need to do is go to the Insert tab and choose any of the options under the Illustrations group. From there, you can add either Shapes to build your own graph from scratch, or SmartArt and Chart to use templates.

Make sure the charts and graphs you add are at their simplest. Don’t give your audience a glyph-like chart they’ll have to spend hours to decipher. Everything should be made clear with just a quick glance and a brief explanation from the presenter.


Every person in the audience should be able to read every word in your PowerPoint deck. It doesn’t matter if you’re presenting to a hundred people in a big auditorium. The farthest person from the stage needs to see what’s on your slide.

Guy Kawasaki proposes that the text in your PowerPoint deck should be in a font size that’s at least 30 points. We’d like to add that they should be in a font type that’s also readable. Generally, serif fonts like Times New Roman are harder to read when projected. San serif fonts like Arial are easier on the eyes when viewed on a projection screen.

powerpoint deck serif-vs-sans-serif

However, your PowerPoint deck might end up looking dull with the same fonts throughout. Experiment with a bit of variety. But keep your font selection to just 2 or 3. Use the same font for the body and a different one for headlines to add contrast.

You’ll be designing a PowerPoint deck that effectively sends your message across in no time. If you need help, our PowerPoint experts are ready to lend you a hand. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.



Color Symbolism Theories.” Color Matters. Accessed August 13, 2014.
The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” Guy Kawasaki. 2005. Accessed August 13, 2014.


Featured Image: sputnik via Flickr

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