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!".

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