One of the “blessings” of the first WYSIWYG computers and laser printers that hit the market in the second half of the 1980’s, was the rich collection of bitmap and vector fonts that came with them.
In those days I was working as a free-lance trainer at Apple Computer, and as such I have been exposed to extravagant compositions of some of my Desktop Publishing students — with dozens of newly-discovered-exotic-typefaces literary dancing before my eyes.
Times have changed and people have got smarter, or haven’t they? When I look at certain Powerpoint (or Keynote or Prezi or …) presentations today, I still experience the same cacophony of fonts projected in front of me.
Here are a few basic rules to respect:
- Slides must be readable, also by the people sitting in the back of the room. Use font sizes 28–36 for your titles, and don’t go below 20 points for the body text.
- LARGE BLOCKS OF CAPITALIZED TEXT MAY BE HARD TO READ. You may capitalize some titles or the first characters of each line, but don’t over uppercase.
- Sans-serif fonts are best for titles and bullets, while serif may be better for small sizes and large texts.
- Don’t mix too many fonts into the same slide show, avoid too exotic typefaces, and never use script types. Also try not to deviate from the format prescribed by the presentation template.
- Beware of fonts, such as the infamous comic sans, that may impact the credibility of your presentation.
- Use boldface, italic and (contrast-rich) color instead of underline.
- In case you want to be creative with fonts, then don’t overdo, rely on your good taste or (when you’re not sure of yourself) ask an expert.
Believe me, if you follow these simple tips, your will come over more professional as a presenter and your audience will go home without a font-ache.
Next week, I will talk about using color in your presentations.
Other articles about this topic that are worth reading:
- The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint (by Guy Kawasaki)
- What Are the Best PowerPoint Fonts for Killer Presentations? (by Brendan Cournoyer)
- Presentation Tip: Choose a boring font (by Dave Paradi)
- Custom fonts – redux (by Jan Schultink)
- Beyond Solid Presentation Skills: Fonts Matter (by Marsha Weisleder)
- Four techniques for combining fonts (by H&FJ)
- How to Mix and Match Fonts Effectively (by Faith Towers)
- What’s so wrong with Comic Sans (by Simon Garfield)
- Shoot the piano player (by me)