PowerPoint slide design incorporates various skills and disciplines – all contributing to a slideshow’s structure, look, and impact. Slide design is about using the numerous techniques and elements (both on- and offscreen) that are available through PowerPoint to build audience engagement.

Everything on your slide should support your argument rather than make it for you. Designers/presenters should choose text, images, and colours that complement what’s being said – not letting their slides make the presentation for them (unless they’re sharing slides with others without the benefit of a presentation or narration).

Slide Design and Structure

Visual hierarchy, structure, and layout all play critical roles in how your slide design will look and be received by audiences. Hierarchy determines the order and way different visual elements are viewed by your audience, giving a sense of chronology and narrative direction across each slide design and your overall slideshow composition.

Creating real structure in your slide design means utilising PowerPoint’s Slide Sorter. When you open a PowerPoint presentation, all your slides are listed as thumbnails on the left. You can drag slides up and down on this list to reorder them. However, if you have many slides in your presentation, it’s easier to use the Slide Sorter to reorder them.

slide design, Best Practice for PowerPoint Slide Design

To access the Slide Sorter, click the View tab, then Slide Sorter in the Presentation Views section.

slide design, Best Practice for PowerPoint Slide Design

Or select the Slide Sorter icon on the task bar in the bottom-right corner of your window.

slide design, Best Practice for PowerPoint Slide Design

In Slide Sorter view, PowerPoint slides are displayed as a series of thumbnails with a number under the bottom-left corner to show their order. To reorder a slide, drag it into a new location.

If you have different people creating or presenting different parts of the presentation, or if you have different topics within your presentation, you can organise your presentation into sections using the Slide Sorter view. To create a section, right-click between the two slides where you want to split the presentation and select Add Section. Each section starts on a new line in the Slide Sorter view. You can create as many sections as you like.

slide design, Best Practice for PowerPoint Slide Design

When you create a new section, the Rename Section dialog box opens. In the Section name text box, enter a new name for the section and select Rename. To change the section name later, right-click the section name in Slide Sorter view and select Rename Section. In the Rename Section dialog box, enter a name in the Section name box and select Rename.

slide design, Best Practice for PowerPoint Slide Design

To reorder the sections in your presentation, move the sections. To move a section, right-click on the section name and select either Move Section Up or Move Section Down. When you’re finished reordering your slides, creating sections, and arranging your sections, select View > Normal. In Normal view, slides display in the new order in the list of thumbnails on the left side of the PowerPoint window. If you added sections, you’ll see your section headings, as well.

Multifaceted Multimedia Slide Design

The slide design choices you make will affect audiences differently, depending the context, content, messaging, and purpose behind your slideshow. Your colour choices should speak to your brand and audience, so it’s important to understand colour psychology and the impact colour choices have on viewers.

When it comes to fonts and typography within your slide design, it’s important to ensure your fonts are accessible (either readily available or already embedded), legible (easy to read), and complement your slide design (look good). Sharp, serifed fonts are better suited to professional presentations while quirky, unusual fonts can work for edgier brands.

Combining fonts successfully is an art. One strategy for pairing typeface is to use fonts in the same typeface family. Font families share a name but have different attributes. For example, you’ve likely seen Arial, Arial Hebrew, Arial Rounded and Arial Light listed in your word processing program. These fonts have different characteristics but share the same basic structure, and they always play nicely together.

In general, you should also try to pair PowerPoint fonts in the same overarching styles. That means that you should avoid mixing serif and sans-serif fonts for body text. While it’s fine to use decorative or script choices for page titles, it’s best to avoid using them within your main text. Also, if you want to create consistency across your slide designs, be sure to change colour themes and fonts in in Slide Master.

Your image choices should be unique and compelling – helping to clarify your overall argument while contributing to the efficacy of your slide design. Images should complement and emphasise what’s being said, which means using visual examples to help illustrate the core of your presentation. Data visualisation is the one of the most effective ways to utilise imagery, simplifying your data and text-heavy information through icons, charts, and tables to make things easier for audiences to understand.

Since PowerPoint offers mixed media capabilities and we’ve already seen how presentations has become more experience driven, good slide design should incorporate the various media and digital assets available to users.

Beyond words and imagery, your slides should utilise video, animation, sound effects, and hyperlinks to create a more immersive experience for audiences. Video and animation are becoming more prevalent in terms of online content, which is driving slide design to be more conscious of using motion magic to capture and retain audience attention.

Interactivity and hyperlinking let’s your audience explore your content for themselves, but this can create complexities within your slide design, so be aware of what your audience expects from your presentation and how your slide design will be viewed and shared.

The art of slide design is a rich tapestry of different considerations, techniques, principles, and assets that help create audience engagement. We couldn’t possible cover all the complexities, nuances, and tips you need within this blog, so we’ve put together a comprehensive Ultimate Guide to PowerPoint Slide Design. Download the complete guide here.