�Lithospheric Rupture in the Gulf of
California — Salton Trough Region�

Ensenada, Mexico, January 9 to 13, 2006

Suggestions for creating an effective PowerPoint presentation:

These are some general pointers, gathered from various sources, to keep in mind when making a PowerPoint presentation.


  • Think carefully about what you have liked and disliked in all the presentations you have listened to. What caught your attention, and what was really awful?
  • Plan carefully and start preparing in good time.
  • Know your audience.
  • Time your presentation.
  • Practice your presentation.
  • Speak comfortably and clearly.
  • Emphasize content, not form (particularly important when using PowerPoint!).

Effective PowerPoint Slides

  • Use design templates.
  • Standardize position, colors, and styles.
  • Include only enough necessary information to remind you what to say next.
  • Limit the information to essentials.
  • Content should be self-evident.
  • Use colors that contrast.*
  • Be consistent and cautious with effects, transitions and animations; it is easy to overuse flashy effects.
  • Too complex slides will confuse and distract. Just because you CAN have a diagional wipe with light sabre sound effect, doesn't mean you SHOULD have it.
  • Tables with more than 4 rows x 4 columns cannot be read by the audience while they listen to you. If your table is bigger, consider using a diagram instead.
  • Too many slides can lose your audience, and your message will be lost.

Text guidelines

  • Avoid putting everything you're going to say on the slide, and then just read along with it. Any text on the slide should be short bullet points, just enough to remind you what to talk about next. If your presentation is on your slide, why do they need you standing up there? The point is for people to listen to you, not read you.
  • Generally no more than 7 words a line.
  • Generally no more than 6 lines a slide.
  • Font size should generally range from 18 to 48 point.
  • Be sure text contrasts with background.*
  • Fancy fonts can be hard to read.
  • Unusual fonts may display unexpectedly if the presentation is not run on your own computer. Stick to standards, however boring that may be.
  • Words in all capital letters are hard to read.
  • Avoid abbreviations and acronyms.

Clip Art and Graphics

  • Should balance the slide.
  • Should enhance and complement the text, not overwhelm.
  • No more than two graphics per slide.


  • Stand to the right of the screen (as the audience is looking at you) so that after they read the slide from left to right their eyes rest on you.
  • Ask that you be lighted during your presenation so you can be seen.

* A classic no-no is red text on blue background, which the human eye is ill equipped to distinguish (it will give everyone a headache, too):

Read this, if you can!
Read this, if you can!
Read this, if you can!
Read this, if you can!


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Last updated Wednesday, December 14, 2005