11 musts for highly legible slides

The proper typeface, styling and point size are essential to helping your audience see and read your text. There’s more, though: Pay attention to colors and contrast, too.

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When your presentation ends, what would you like your audience to think?

It always surprises me when speakers want their slide fonts to stand out, as if it were reasonable compensation for a lack of compelling content.

Great slide fonts are easy to read and otherwise not noticeable. You want your message—not your slide fonts—to stand out and be memorable.

If you must have text on a slide, how can you best present it? The table below summarizes the guidelines. Read on for details and practical examples.


Make it legible—from the back of the room with tired eyes late in the day.

Where do you design your slides? On a desktop computer with a sharp 24-inch monitor? On a laptop, perhaps? Is your head within 18 inches of your screen? Is the room lighting good? We design slides in fairly optimal conditions with rich displays providing excellent contrast.

Your slides are rarely viewed in optimal conditions. The screens are small. The rooms are large. The projectors always seems to be dimmer and blurrier than you would like. And someone in your audience was up late last night. Or is suffering from allergies. Or is behind on their optical prescription.

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