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Powerpoint Guidelines
  • These guidelines have been compiled by New Media and Public Relations and Marketing to help you improve your use of PowerPoint to communicate your ideas.

    These are only guidelines, but we hope you will follow them whenever you create a PowerPoint presentation.


    PowerPoint is widely used by speakers for occasions as varied as sales pitches, research summaries, reunions and wedding anniversaries. Where speakers once relied on note cards to remind themselves of their next line, they now use PowerPoint. Unfortunately many speakers simply present the equivalent of their note cards on screen.


    Illustrate your ideas with examples, especially images, and don’t read from your slides.


    • Limit fonts to no more than three throughout your presentation.
    • Use sans-serif fonts such as Verdana, Arial and Helvetica as these display better when using projection equipment; or use fonts that are appropriate for your audience: Times New Roman is conservative, Tempus Sans ITC is casual. Avoid using script or fancy fonts.

    Font Size

    •  Always use a font size of at least 16 points.
    •  Use a font size of at least 20 points if you are presenting to a large room. 


    • Use a small set of colors consistently throughout your presentation.
    • Use a high-contrast color for text.
    • Combine text or other visual elements with color rather than relying solely on color to impart information; green may mean “go” and red “stop,” but about one in 20 people have some form of color blindness.
    • Use light backgrounds with dark text when using projection equipment.


    Because authors so often read from their slides, they usually put too much text on each slide.

    • Use no more than six bullet points on a slide.
    • Write fewer than six words on each line of text or bullet point.
    • Use the notes feature of PowerPoint to expound upon your bullet points; this feature is like your 3 x 5 cards of yore.
    • Use headlines and sub-heads for new topics; headlines and sub-heads help maintain consistency across slides, especially where a bulleted list is continued on the next slide.
    • Spell check your presentation; this is easily done by hitting the “F7” key or by selecting “Spelling” from the “Tools” menu.
    • Have another person proofread your presentation. You shouldn’t change anything after it has been proofread because those quick, little changes are the most error prone.
    • Use appropriate punctuation and use it consistently.
    • Always use upper case and lower case letters.
    • Consistently follow an established style guide; the Public Relations and Marketing Office uses the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, but we also follow a set of style guidelines specific to Capital University.
    • Use bolding to emphasize words, but avoid using italics unless citing a resource.


    • Use a consistent layout for all of your slides; this is easily done by creating a master slide prior to starting.
    • Use a Capital University PowerPoint template to make your task even easier.


    • Use animation and transitions sparingly and consistently; dissolves, blinds and fly-ins distract the audience from your message.
    • The only sound your audience should hear is your voice or other audio content; turn off sound effects on any animations you choose to use.

    Graphic Elements

    • Photographs, graphic designs and clip art are most useful in telling a story or illustrating a point, but they can be distracting when they do not directly support the point(s) of the current slide. The Public Relations and Marketing Office is a good source for high-quality photography.
    • Use only high-quality photographs or graphic designs.
    • Avoid using PowerPoint or Word clip art.
    • Use photos that are large enough to show the details of the image, but do not resize photos in PowerPoint.
    • Use photographs of faculty, staff and/or students doing things rather than landscape or architectural photos of campus.
    • Use one graphic element per slide.