People forget how useful PowerPoint can be for graphic design – limiting the program’s use to presentation design only. Designing imagery in PowerPoint may not be as intuitive as other programs, but it does offer a significant number of features and capabilities to help designers get more usage and flexibility from their designs.
Setting the Size for Graphic Design
If you’re doing graphic design in PowerPoint without a template, then you’ll first need to set up your page, converting pixels into centimetres. As general rule of thumb, 38 pixels per cm works as a standard.
Open a new presentation, click the Design tab, then Slide Size. Here PowerPoint offers its default sizes 4:3 or 16:9 slides. If you select Custom Slide Size, it will open a Slide Size window with a drop-down menu for various slide sizes that work for print design, such as A3 and A4. If you’re designing for digital, select custom size and enter your preferred dimensions.
Since each social media platform has different dimensions for optimal image use, check out what size works best for your graphic design with our image spec list for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube – available at the bottom of this blog.
Once you enter your dimensions, you may get a warning that your size isn’t supported by your printer. Since your design is from digital, this shouldn’t matter – simply click OK. Now that your slides are the right size, you may want to save the blank slides as a template for future designs.
Image and Font Use for Graphic Design
Once you have a blank slide in the correct size, add your background or primary image by clicking Insert > Photo from the top ribbon.
Adjust the photo to fill your slide using the corner handles. Using top, bottom, or side handles will distort your photo. Don’t forget, holding the Shift key while adjusting the image size will ensure it maintains its proportions. Adjusting the image’s transparency can also help give images more of a background look.
If you prefer, you can choose one of PowerPoint’s backgrounds, textures, and patterns, or create a solid or gradient colour. However, since PowerPoint’s imagery and patterns can look pretty generic, we’d recommend sourcing images from stock-image sites or other online resources to make your graphic design seem more unique.
Admittedly, PowerPoint’s image editing tools are nowhere near as sophisticated as those in Adobe Photoshop, but they’re still useful. Particularly darkening, blurring, or overlaying images to ensure white text clearly shows up on it. Cropping your image can also make your design look more compelling.
However, PowerPoint does make it incredibly easy to integrate typography into your designs. We’ve provided free fonts and advice about how to properly pair fonts to ensure your designs look consistent yet engaging.
Graphic Design Tips
When trying graphic design in PowerPoint, it’s important to remember some basic principles of good graphic design, which can help you (more than PowerPoint) achieve what you set out to do.
- Images as the background often works better than images against a background (unless you’re using icons).
- Space is good. Leave space to let your design ‘breathe’, after all, keeping things simple can often be more impactful than stacking on the imagery and visual elements.
- No more than three fonts per design. Always use fonts that help you communicate your message, choose fonts that reflect your brand, idea, or presentation.
- The most important thing about fonts is legibility. Make sure text is large and the contrast is high between the text and the background to ensure audiences can read things clearly.
- Left-align textunless there’s a specific reason to Centre-align it (or very occasionally right-align or justify).
- Avoid orphan or widow words. Just stretch your text box a little more, or narrow it, so words aren’t left on a line of their own.
Saving your Designs as Images or PowerPoints
You can save your PowerPoint as a PPTX to come back to your graphic design later, but you can also save a slide as an image, or a whole bunch of slides as separate images.
When you go to Save As, choose JPEG or PNG from the drop-down menu – it will then give you the choice of saving just the slide you’re on at the moment as an image, or to create a folder into which it will save all the slides in the presentation as individual images.
The important trick to know is how to save your graphic. Go to File > Save as Pictures. In the pop-up, choose to save as JPG or PNG. PNG gives you better quality but larger file size.
Now click the Options button. Be sure the pixel size is set to the size you got from the Social Media Cheat Sheet. Click OK and then Save.
If you save your file as a PPT or PPTX, you’ll have editable template to make variations on your graphic or continue designing. You should only save your graphic design as an image once designing is complete.
Social Media Image Specs
Facebook Image Sizes
- Facebook Page cover photo size: 820 x 312 for desktop / 640 x 360 for mobile
- Facebook Group cover photo size: 1640 x 856 minimum
- Facebook Event cover photo size: 1200 x 628
- Facebook Profile photo: displays 170 x 170 on page
- Facebook Link preview size: min. 600 x 315
- Facebook Photo post size: on the wall, 476 x varied height, larger gives better quality. Up to 2048 x 2048 works for Facebook photo posts
Instagram Image Sizes
- While Instagram posts are no longer limited to square, your images will still be cropped to square on your profile-page gallery
- Instagram Profile Photo size: 110 x 110 minimum
- Instagram photo size: minimum 1080 width for best quality
- Instagram landscape photo size: 1.91:1 proportion, or 1080 x 566
- Instagram portrait photo size: 4:5 proportion, or 1080 x 1350
Twitter Image Sizes
- Twitter Header size: 3:1 or 1500 x 500 pixels
- Twitter Profile size: 1:1 or 400 x 400 pixels
- Tweeted Image size: 16:9 or 1200 x 675 pixels
- Twitter Card image size: 1.91:1 or 1200 x 628 pixels
LinkedIn Image Sizes
- Max file size 8MB and file type must be PNG, JPEG, or GIF
- LinkedIn profile cover photo: 1584 wide by 396 high. This is exactly 4:1 proportion
- LinkedIn profile picture: Upload any size between 400 x 400 pixels and 20,000 x 20,000 px
- LinkedIn blog post link shares: 1200 x 627 px
- LinkedIn photo share: 1200 x 1200 square best on desktop, 1200 x 627 (1.9:1 ratio) on mobile
- LinkedIn Page cover photo size: 1,128 x 191 px
- LinkedIn logo size: 300 x 300 square.
YouTube Image Sizes
- YouTube Channel Art size: for TV 2560 x 1440 / Desktop max 2560 x 423 / Tablet 1855 x 423 / Desktop minimum and mobile 1546 x 423
- Video thumbnail: 1280 x 720
- Channel icon: 800 x 800