PowerPoint Slide Presentation

A PowerPoint slide presentation is an effective way to support speech, visualize a complicated concept, and share research findings with a large audience. PowerPoint presentations have increased in popularity with the growth of web-based meetings and webinars. The purpose of a slide presentation is to provide visual support for the information being discussed. PowerPoint slides do not contain the narrative, nor effectively stand on their own.

General Rules

  • Keep the audience, their current knowledge base, and desired outcomes in mind.
  • Keep the number of slides to a minimum.
  • Generally plan to spend at least one minute per slide.
  • Use one line per thought; avoid line wraps if possible.
  • Use graphs and figures. They are more powerful than tables or narrative.
  • Do not read the slides during the presentation.

Recommendations for Format

  • Clearly label each slide.
  • Use bullets and short phrases or keywords.
  • Follow the 6 x 6 rule, no more than 6 words per line and no more than 6 lines per slide.


  • Avoid the use of jargon and acronyms.
  • Do not write in complete sentences or paragraphs, and avoid a lot of punctuation.
  • Do not use abbreviations.

Graphic Design and Layout

  • Keep the design simple.
  • Avoid busy backgrounds and Microsoft templates that contain distracting images.
  • Consistently use same font and font sizes on all slides:
    • Helvetica or Arial are preferred; avoid Arial Narrow or Times/Times New Roman.
    • Use a font size 24 or larger.
    • Italics are hard to read.
  • It is more effective to have one bullet appear at a time so the audience will not read ahead.
  • Keep graphs simple and easy to read and understand.
  • Make sure no part of the graph is difficult to read from a distance (for example, data labels)
  • Utilize empty space to enhance readability.
  • Use dark letters on a light background instead of light letters on a dark background.
  • Do NOT use clip art or images to decorate; every image must have a content purpose (to visualize or explain an idea), and each must be cited appropriately (including photographs).
  • Do not use animations between slides or to introduce new content.