Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A word on visuals: Using text in slides part I

The use of text in slides is overused, almost abused. In this post I go through two useful principles to improve the use of text in your slides, namely the 6-words-per-slide and 10-20-30 principles.   
There is a lot to say about the use of text in a presentation deck, but this is for sure: Minimize the number of words per slide. In this e-book Really Bad PowerPoint,  Seth Godin suggests to use a maximum of 6 words. In the clip below, former Apple Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki talks about his 10-20-30 principle. The 30 stands for 30pt (pt = point) as the minimum font size in a slide.

To make this rule more precise take a look at the image below. Both sentences are written in 36pt, but one sentence is bigger than the other one (click on the image to enlarge.)
Conclusion? Not only does size matter, also type matters (no pun intended!) John McWade from Before&After Magazine  suggests to look for types that
  • contain simple lines
  • have large counters and wide openings
  • little or no weight derivation.
Here is an example

Let me go back to Seth's 6-words-per-slide rule. Take a look at this postcard. It is ugly, but illustrates the point

I interpret Seth's rule as "maximum one relative simple sentence per slide!" Actually, you could take it a little further: one sentence per slide, one idea per slide. This stuff makes perfect sense! I'll finish for today with two more examples. The first is a sign inside the streetcars in Leipzig.

It translates "STOP! Do not get off after the signal."

In English is says "Soon there will be something on the lid!".

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A word on visuals: Image resources

You might be willing to include images in your next presentation, but might be confused to know where to start. In this post I give a provide resources on where to get free images, how to choose good images and how to process them to fit your needs.

Sadly, I forgot to take my camera to Paris. You got to love Wikipedia!

I'm back from a (long) summer holiday in partly Paris. I was really  impressed by the quality of their advertisements. I was in fact so impressed that I'm  again immersed in graphic design and photography. So I thought I would write about photography resources: where to get free photos, what makes a image good for a presentation, and some tips on how to improve those free photos to get them to work.

Where to get free but good images?

I have mentioned this place already, but it so good I'll mention it again. Compfight is a Flickr search engine that filter images according to their license, either commercial or creative commons.

So people already know that Wikipedia is another great place for images, but what I have found even more helpful is their Wikipedia featured pictures. According to them, "these are images that the Wikipedia community finds beautiful, stunning, impressive or informative."

But even a better source of image in the Wikimedia is Wikimedia Commons. The quality of their images is even better. But there is no reason to stop for static images,  in commons you can also download video and audio.

What makes an image good for presentations?

What makes an image good for presentations is the title of a two part series article at Powerpoint Ninja on basic information on how to choose good images for presentation. The article has two good related sources on composition in photography:

5 Elements of composition in photography

10 Top Photography Composition rules

How to improve those free photos to get them to work?

 So now you know where to get images and what to look for to make them work, but here is the caveat. Seldom images come in the way you want them or need them. If you know your ways into the GIMP of Photoshop you won't have trouble getting images ready, but if you don't,  first start by learning how to use the curve tool:
The curve tool window is a mighty tool for image correction.
Left Photoshop, right The GIMP
A good place to learn to use this tool is by reading section 6.2 of Grooking the Gimp, then watch episode 037 "The two minute holiday shot edit" of Meet the Gimp to learn so more usefully techniques.

The after picture in the  before-after of the Tour Eiffel (image downloaded from the "Tour Eiffel" Wikipedia page) was just a two click process. Learning about layers and blending modes also pays off.