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Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation

Back in the day, when a global connectivity system, computers, and all these technological advancements were decades, even centuries, away from being invented, no one had the trouble of choosing what font to use for their works. Everything that people had—some without much choice—were their hands and what amounted to pens. Getting something on paper was all manual labor, and how readable manuscripts were depended not only on the conventions and foundations of the language but also on how legible their penmanship was.
Now, though, almost everything has become digital: messages, word-processing programs, presentations, and the like. Fitting, then, that with technology came another host of problems. Technology isn’t perfect; it gave people the power of choice from an infinite number of many things: colors, fonts, layouts, images, etc.
Since the birth of PowerPoint, presenting has never been the same. Now, there are more stuff to consider when making your deck. From background to theme and, yes, fonts. How do presentation designers decide what to use? More importantly, how do you choose the perfect typeface for your slides? By answering three main questions:

1. What is my message?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: What is my message?
Along with that is a follow-up question: “How do I say my message?” Your topic and how you present your data are factors that affect your decision with which font to use.
If your topic is serious, then it begets an authoritative font, like the thick Rockwell or the aptly named Impact. But, if you like a quirky and light-hearted font for your topic, then something along the lines of Tahoma, Segoe, and Verdana can do the trick. When you know how font personalities affect readers’ perception, then you can easily narrow down your choices and find the one that’s apt with the gravity of your message.
The worst you could do is mismatch your fonts with your theme. Have you even seen a public service announcement that used Symbol (which, for those who are unfamiliar, are letters from the Greek alphabet)? And please, no matter what, don’t use Wingdings. Your font must be appropriate. You don’t want another case of Comic Sans, do you?

2. Is it readable?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: Is it readable?
You could answer that question in two approaches: font type and font size.
In general, there are four font classifications: serif, sans serif, script, and decorative. Of the four, the first two are most widely used. Fonts belonging to the serif family are great for print since, even with small sizes, their serifs provide space and fluidity for continuous reading. Sans serif are best used when large and projected onscreen because they are clear in the sense that when serif fonts are projected, the thinner strokes of the letters tend to be muddled or appear broken-up.
As for a specific font size, a good rule to live by is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with 30 font size. Maximum readability even for the people at the back is guaranteed. If anything, you could even go bigger, especially when you have a single word on your slide. It’s easily read, impactful, and memorable.

3. How many should I choose?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: How many should I choose?
This goes over into consistency territory.
You’re already having trouble deciding one font; what more two or three? Generally, the usual advice is to have two complimenting fonts, a pair that doesn’t take away or fight for attention with each other. Typically, the best pair is a serif-sans serif combination, like the classic Times New Roman and Arial. But if you know font personalities, for the right topic and with the right approach, even a sans serif-sans serif combo will work in unexpected ways, like Cubano and Nunito.
Of course, you don’t need to use different fonts. A major point of using combos is to highlight certain parts of your content, and stylizing a keyword or an important point differently draws attention to it.
Choosing the perfect font to use on your slides is seldom easy. You could fall back to the old mindset of “As long as it’s readable,” but almost everyone does that; thus, you get the ubiquity of certain “standard” fonts that are now recommended to be avoided.
Experiment with your presentation. Answer the three questions above, and you’ve got a narrow pool to choose from. When you get the harmony you’re looking for, you can then wow your audience with your talk.
If you want to know more, watch this short video from our PowerPoint design agency, SlideGenius.

Resources:

Agarwal, Amit. “What Are the Best Fonts for Presentation Slides?” Digital Inspiration. July 17, 2012. www.labnol.org/software/tutorials/advice-select-best-fonts-for-powerpoint-presentation-slides/3355
Cass, Jacob. “15 Stunning Font Combinations for Your Inspiration.” JUST™ Creative. May 5, 2015. www.justcreative.com/2015/05/05/15-stunning-font-combinations-for-your-inspiration
Cournoyer, Brendan. “What Are the Best Fonts for Killer Presentations?” Brainshark. March 29, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/March/best-powerpoint-fonts-for-killer-presentations
Erickson, Christine. “Not My Type: Why the Web Hates Comic Sans.” Mashable. October 3, 2012. www.mashable.com/2012/10/03/comic-sans-history/#6J_bWV037Eqw
Gabrielle, Bruce. “The #1 Best Advice for Choosing PowerPoint Fonts.” Speaking PowerPoint. December 5, 2011. www.speakingppt.com/2011/12/05/best-font
Haley, Allan. “Type Classifications.” Fonts.com. n.d. www.fonts.com/content/learning/fontology/level-1/type-anatomy/type-classifications
Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

Design Hacks for Designers on a Deadline

Graphic design is expanding. Every year, new designers emerge—many of which are equipped with skills that match, if not surpass, that of established professionals. If you don’t want to be replaced, strive to be more valuable. Identify yourself from the crowd by being consistent with the quality of your work. Excellence is important for artists like you since your job entails producing creative outputs that spark the imagination. To be a great designer, you need to make sure that your designs don’t stagnate and lose their luster over time.
Quality is indeed number one in the list of things that should define you as an artist. However, it doesn’t end there. Since the design marketplace teems with designers who produce exceptional work, quality is no longer enough. You need to add another ingredient to the mix.

The Missing Piece in the Puzzle

What design skill is so important that, without it, you won’t be able to outshine others in your field? Why, speed, of course. With the upsurge of client demands, there’s nothing more sought-after today than a designer who can produce quality work within a short time frame. Time is money—the faster you work, the more you’ll earn. It’s as simple as that.
Still, we’re no strangers to the conjecture that quality takes time. You can argue that speed comes at the expense of quality, but if you give it enough thought, you’ll see that this isn’t really the case. There’s a difference between a fast output and a rushed one, and obviously, you should aim for the former. Lighten your workload by applying some tricks of the trade that will enable you to work faster.
The following infographic provides some advice on becoming a better and faster designer. Integrate these hacks into your work process, and never miss a deadline again!

Resources:

Beachy, William. “How to Become a Faster Graphic Designer.” Go Media. June 24, 2015. gomedia.com/zine/insights/how-to-become-a-faster-graphic-designer
Cousins, Carrie. “How to Become a Faster, More Efficient Designer.” Design Hack. June 21, 2016. designshack.net/articles/freelancing/how-to-become-a-faster-more-efficient-designer
Merimee, Jordan. “7 Essential Productivity Tips and Hacks for Designers.” Shutterstock. October 24, 2016. www.shutterstock.com/blog/productivity-tips-hacks-designers
Vukovic, Peter. “15 Ways to Design Better and Faster.” 99 Designs. n.d. 99designs.com/blog/tips/15-ways-to-design-better-and-faster
“A Designer’s Time Is Money.” Affordable Printing. February 11, 2014. www.affordableprinting.co.uk/2014/02/11/designers-time-money
“Top 5 Hacks to Brainstorm a Perfect Design with a Tight Deadline.” Fohlio. n.d. learn.fohlio.com/top-5-hacks-to-brainstorm-a-perfect-design-with-a-tight-deadline

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.

Font

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.

 

References

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