Nailing the right design for a PowerPoint (PP) presentation increases audience attention and makes your message more salient. It’s important to know that mastering graphic design in PowerPoint means more than knowing how to choose the right layouts, images and colour schemes for every presentation. It also means understanding how fonts impact the aesthetics and readability of your presentation design. Here are five must-follow font rules for PowerPoint.
1. Understand Availability
Before you even sit down to create a PowerPoint design, find out what type of equipment you’ll be using to make your presentation. Why? Not all computers and presentation devices have the same fonts loaded. If you use a font for your PP presentation that isn’t available on the machine you’re using, you’ll be forced to convert to a different font on the fly. That almost always spells disaster.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to avoid this. If you use fonts that you know are on the machine you’re presenting with, you’ll be good to go. You can also use web-safe fonts that are available on all computers. If you’re not sure what fonts will be available, you can embed your fonts in your presentation. This saves the font to your presentation so that it will display no matter the machine you use. Just remember that not all fonts can be embedded, so it’s important to test this early in your presentation design process.
A final option is to outline fonts in PP. When you outline fonts, they become shapes and can be displayed on any machine. Beware that outlining fonts means that you can’t edit text anymore, so only do so once your presentation is finished, proofread and otherwise ready to go.
2. Keep It Simple
As a rule of thumb, you should never use more than two or three fonts in one presentation. Using more than three fonts can be visually distracting and will undermine the cleanliness of your PowerPoint design. In addition to limiting the number of fonts you use, it’s also important to use fonts consistently. Choose set fonts for headings, general text and callouts. Stick to those fonts throughout the document.
3. Know Your Font Terminology
In order to choose the right fonts for a presentation design, you’ll need to know some basic font terminology. Understanding the basics of different font styles will guide you as you make typeface selections and will help you find fonts that work well together in a presentation too. There are four primary styles with which you should be familiar.
- Serif: Often considered traditional fonts, serif fonts have stylised ‘feet’ or decorative lines. Times New Roman is one of the most common serif fonts.
- Sans Serif: These fonts are so named because they don’t have the decorative lines associated with serif fonts. Sans-serif fonts are often considered cleaner and more modern than their serif counterpoints. Helvetica is one of the best-known sans-serif fonts in the world.
- Decorative/Display: These are the types of fonts you’d generally expect to see on a prominent sign or to draw attention to a headline in an advertorial. Common decorative fonts include Blackletter and Broadway. These fonts should be used sparingly in PP designs.
- Script: This font style mimics cursive or handwriting. Script fonts are generally used for headers and for decorative purposes. Brush Script is one example of this type of font.
4. Use Appropriate Fonts
It’s absolutely essential that the fonts you use are easy to read. In general, you should avoid italics unless they are used sparingly for emphasis. It’s also a good idea to avoid elaborate or cursive fonts that some audience members may be unable to make out. In terms of font colour, it’s generally best to stick with dark fonts on a light background. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule.
You should also be sure that the look of your fonts match your presentation and your audience. Every font has a personality, and you want to make sure that presentation fonts speak to your overall goals. For example, a pretty script might be appropriate for slide titles if you’re giving a presentation about an upscale restaurant concept. If you’re talking about something sleek and modern, though, you’ll be better served by a classic font such as Helvetica.
5. Master Font Marriage
Combining fonts successfully is an art. When it comes to PowerPoint design in particular, you need to make sure that the fonts throughout your presentation are complementary. You can read up on pairing fonts or borrow from existing designs that you love when it comes time to choose your own presentation fonts. Match the personalities of your fonts too.
Another great 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. These types of fonts can be difficult to read and simply don’t look good when placed side by side with standard sans-serif choices in body text.
You should also be sure that the look of your fonts match your presentation and your audience. Every font has a personality, and you want to make sure that presentation fonts speak to your overall goals. For example, a pretty script might be appropriate for slide titles if you’re giving a presentation about an upscale restaurant concept. If you’re talking about something sleek and modern, though, you’ll be better served by a classic font such as Helvetica. Furthermore, if you’re having issues with any fonts onscreen or when sharing, ensure your font choices have been embedded and installed correctly.
The team here at Synapsis Creative are experts in graphic design in PowerPoint.
For more information on how we can help you get the most of of your fonts in PowerPoint, contact us.