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Saving Typeface: Tips for PowerPoint Presentation Fonts

A good presentation comes in a package. This includes an effective speaker supported by powerful visuals. A PowerPoint that complements your performance is essential in leaving a lasting impact on people. There are many aspects of visual design, and among one of the most important is your choice of fonts.

While crowding text is highly discouraged, text isn’t necessarily banned from your slide deck. Arranging text strategically in your PowerPoint and choosing the right font style and size can drive home a powerful message.

But that’s often easier said than done. How do you use text to communicate to your audience? Which fonts prompt a response? We attempt to answer these questions with a few basic rules:

Limit the Fonts You Use

Familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons of both serif and sans serif fonts will save you time choosing between them. However, there are several font types, and deciding which one to use is still pretty tricky. Using three or more fonts is already a bit of a handful.

According to Engage Interactive developer, Jamie Wright, if you can’t justify your use of a third font, it would be good to keep it out of the picture. Too many fonts can be confusing for your audience. You want your audience to focus on your speech, not on a distracting font. If you want to draw your audience’s attention to the text on the slide, try combining font types.

For example, serif fonts are often used for the body of text, while sans serif fonts are used as headlines. Because sans serifs are easier to read, using them for a headline draws immediate attention. On the other hand, serifs guide the eyes with their design, making them better for longer blocks of texts. Knowing the strengths of different font types will let you use them to your advantage.

Consider Readability

Size matters. Unless you intend to have it invisible to the viewer, your text should be readable. Color also plays a huge role in presentation design. The color you choose evokes a psychological response on your audience. Audience members respond differently to different types of colors. But also make sure your words are visible by choosing a color that contrasts with its background.

Contrast is a key element of text readability. Low-contrast text and text with color similar to its slide are unreadable. People won’t be able to get the message of your presentation if they can’t see what’s on your slide. At the same time, don’t overdo it.

Don’t sabotage yourself with flashy, animated text. Keeping your text simple yet readable is enough to keep your audience’s attention.

The Font that Must Not Be Used

Aside from bullet points, another PowerPoint taboo is the use of Comic Sans. The Comic Sans font has gained a bad rap for a number of reasons. Among these is the font being overused in inappropriate situations. While there is nothing wrong with this font per se, you wouldn’t want to be associated with it.

The general disapproval of Comic Sans is enough to discredit any presentation that makes use of the infamous font. If you want to look for similar but less stigmatized options, there are alternatives to choose from. Ban Comic Sans, an organization dedicated to eradicating the notorious font, provides an entire list on their site.

But still use them wisely. Don’t go for unconventional fonts on a whim. Always think about the effect your font will have on your presentation.

Conclusion

When organized strategically, text can enhance presentation design. In order to maximize the element of text, consider the fonts you use. Don’t saturate a slide with several fonts unless you can justify it. Be aware of font size and color. Any text you put on a slide must always be clear and readable to your audience. Similarly, don’t go over the top with your design.

Unconventional fonts can be distracting. The main purpose of your font choice is to emphasize what you’re trying to say, not draw attention to itself.

If you want professional help in deciding how to organize your PowerPoint, contact our SlideGenius experts today and get a free quote!

 

References

“Fonts.” Ban Comic Sans. Accessed October 8, 2015. www.bancomicsans.com/main
Wright, Jamie. “How Many Fonts Is Too Many Fonts?” Engage Interactive. Accessed October 8, 2015. www.engageinteractive.co.uk/blog/how-many-fonts-is-too-many-fonts
Spector, Lincoln. “Six PowerPoint Nightmares (and How to Fix Them).” PCWorld. Accessed October 8, 2015. www.pcworld.com/article/237106/six_powerpoint_nightmares_and_how_to_fix_them_.html

 

Featured Image: “Stencil Font” by Cory Schmitz on flickr.com

Death to Comic Sans: The Worst Font for PowerPoint

If you don’t know what Comic Sans is, maybe you’re too ashamed to admit you do. It continues to grace countless homemade greeting cards, signs, banners, and sometimes, even PowerPoint presentations.

Despite many alternatives, Comic Sans retains a degree of prevalence, banking on its perception as a warm and fun typeface.

This perception, along with its overuse by amateur designers, contributes to its reputation as the worst font choice in any designed output. Before we dive deeper, let’s take a short look at its history.

Humble Roots

We can thank former Microsoft Employee Vincent Connare for the existence of this typographic blight. He claims that Comic Sans wasn’t initially designed as a usable typeface for Microsoft Office, but just for use in an application featuring a virtual canine assistant, Microsoft Bob.

In his own words:

“Comic Sans was NOT designed as a typeface but as a solution to a problem with the often overlooked part of a computer program’s interface, the typeface used to communicate the message.

There was no intention to include the font in other applications other than those designed for children when I designed Comic Sans. The inspiration came at the shock of seeing Times New Roman used in an inappropriate way.”

To be fair, the British Dyslexia Association considers the font easier to read than other fonts. Its legibility makes it easier for viewers to distinguish different glyphs and characters from each other. In addition, its handwritten design and curvy features lend it an air of friendliness and accessibility.

So why do people, especially designers, hate it?

An Ignoble Font

It’s the abundant misuse in inappropriate situations that’s handed Comic Sans its legacy as the worst font of all time. The friendliness mentioned is unfortunately not suited for how it’s been used. You’ve probably seen this a dizzying amount of times in office pantry signs, self-published greeting cards, and even some unwitting business signages.

Most likely, an unaware presenter may have even used it in his slides. It’s easy to reason that its bad rep is solely due to this abuse. Experts would beg to differ, noting its inconsistent kerning (spacing between characters) which make Comic Sans technically “ugly.”

No matter what, it can’t shake its image as cheap and unprofessional, given its common use by untrained designers.

So When Should I Use Comic Sans?

Never.

Save yourself from embarrassment. The people over at Ban Comic Sans Manifesto, expanding on its misuse, put it so:

“Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivete, irreverence, and is far too casual for such a purpose. It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.”

In other words, Comic Sans is only good for communicating one thing: that you’re not a professional. There’s also no longer any excuse for resorting to this silly font. Even if you’re going for a more fun or aloof feel font for PowerPoint, there are so many other alternatives.

If you’re presenting to a professional audience, you’re better off sticking to the classics like Arial, Century Gothic, or Helvetica. Some may argue that they’re equally overused, but at least their look is clear, classy, and timeless. Still insist on injecting some fun into your slides? Ban Comic Sans can give you other alternatives.

In Summary

Comic Sans is a font that stumbled into its role as designers’ public enemy number one. Its overexposure and misuse has made it a target of much derision. The fact is, there are so many other free choices that come built into Microsoft Office.

We have serious serifs like Times New Roman, Garamond and the like for long bodies of text. There are more commanding sans serifs such as Impact, and you can count on Arial when you need to grab attention. In a perfect world, everyone would know the proper font choice for every situation.

Not everyone can be a PowerPoint professional, but anyone can easily learn to follow the general rule: avoid Comic Sans.

 

References

Ban Comic Sans Manifesto.Ban Comic Sans. n.d.
Connare, Vincent. “Why Comic Sans?” Connare: Art, Design & Typography. n. d.
Typefaces for Dyslexia. BDA Technology. March 20, 2011.
What’s so Wrong with Comic Sans?BBC News. October 20, 2010.

 

Featured Image: Ban Comic Sans” by Emanuele on flickr.com