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PowerPoint Best Practices

Need to make a PowerPoint for your course? Follow these best practices:

  1. Outline your presentation before you get started (just like you would do for a paper).
  2. Use visuals to enhance what you are saying.
  3. Avoid text-heavy slides.
  4. Use a consistent visual theme throughout your presentation.
  5. Make your slides easy to read.
    • Suggested Font Sizes
      • Slide titles = 36 to 44 pt.
      • Slide text = 28 to 32 pt.
    • Suggested Fonts
      • Times New Roman
      • Arial
      • Any font that is easy to read
    • Use Contrasting Colors
      • Try a dark background with light text, or a light background with dark text
      • Avoid overly bright or neon colors
      • Avoid using similar colors for the background and the text color
  6. Proofread your slides.
  7. Send your PowerPoint to the Writing Center for feedback.

Making a PowerPoint

Follow these step-by-step guides on how to add certain elements to your PowerPoint presentation:

    Selecting a design theme is an easy way to get your slides to look consistent throughout your presentation. To select a design theme…

    • Click on the “Design” Tab
    • Select a “Theme” you like
    • If you want to change the color of that theme, select a “Variant” of that theme

    Adding a Slide

    To add a slide to your presentation…

    • Click on the “Home” Tab
    • Click on the “New Slide” option (by clicking the downward arrow)
    • Then, select the slide layout you would like to use
      • Popular Slide Layouts include:
        • Title Slide
        • Title and Content
        • Two Content

    Deleting a Slide

    If you need to delete a slide from your presentation…

    • Within the left navigation area, right click the slide you want to delete
    • Then, select “Delete Slide”

    Add an Image to a Slide

    Adding images to your slides can help enhance your presentation because they are more engaging than text-only slides. To add an image to your slide….

    • Find the image you would like to copy into your PowerPoint
    • Select the image
    • Right click the image
    • Select “copy image”
    • Then paste (Ctrl +v) the image onto your slide
    • From there you can adjust the size and placement of the image

    Add Styling to Your Image

    If you wish to add styling to your image to help the image stand out…

    • Select the image you would like to enhance
    • Click on the pink “Format” tab
    • From there, select a “Picture Style” or a border, or picture effects you would like to use
    • Note: all of your image-editing options are within that pink Formatting tab

    You may be asked to add slide notes to your slides as part of your assignment. To do so….

    • Click on “Notes” located on the bottom of your presentation
    • This will open a section below your slide that will say “Click to Add Notes”
    • To adjust how much space you have to write notes, click on the grey line and drag it up or down

    Note: The “Notes” area of a PowerPoint typically serves as private notes for a presenter to reference during a presentation (like index cards). However, when your assignment is a PowerPoint that you will submit, the notes should act as the written component of your assignment. Treat the notes area of each slide as a paragraph of an academic paper. You should include complete sentences that explain and support the main idea on the slide, and include in-text citations for any information from outside sources.

    If you would like to make text or images appear, disappear, or move as you present, consider adding animations to your slide elements. Adding animations allows you to time your information with clicks, so content only appears when you want it to, instead of all at once. To add animations…

    • Click on the “Animations” tab
    • Then select “Animation Pane” so you can see what you will add to your slide
    • Then select the part of your slide you want to animate (image, bullet point, text, etc.)
    • Then select an animation style:
      • Green animations = entrance effect (things appear)
      • Yellow animations = emphasis effect (things move)
      • Red animations = exit effect (things leave/disappear)
    • Once an animation has been added, a number should appear next to it. This indicates its order or the number of clicks it will take for that element to appear on the slide.

    Adding transitions between your slides can help make your presentation seem more polished. To add transitions…

    • Click on the “Transitions” tab
    • Select the style of transition you would like
    • Click on “Apply to All”

    Suggestion: Pick a simple transition like “Cut” or “Fade.” Overly showy transitions can be distracting.

    Some assignments may require you to add narration (you speaking) to your slides. To do this…

    • Click on the “Insert” Tab
    • Select the “Audio” button and select “Record Audio…”
    • Click on the record button (red circle) and record your audio.
    • Once you are done recording, click “Ok.” An audio icon should appear on your slide. 

    Suggestion: Move the audio icon to the left bottom corner of your slide (or somewhere where it is seen, but not in the way).

    Another great way to enhance your presentation is to insert a relevant YouTube video onto one of your slides. To do this…

    • Click on the “Insert” tab…
    • Select the “Video” icon, and click on “Online Video”
    • From there you can search YouTube for the video you would like to include on your slide
    • Once you found the video you like, select it and click “Insert”
    • From there, adjust the size and placement of your video

    Note: The video will only play in “present mode” and you need an Internet connection to browse for YouTube videos.

    APA Style & Formatting

    Some PowerPoint assignments require you to follow APA guidelines when designing your presentations. To ensure that your PowerPoint meets APA standards follow these guidelines:

    1. Include a Title Slide

      Please include a title slide at the beginning of your presentation. On this slide, include the following:
      • Date
      • Instructor’s name
      • Course information
      • Your name
      • Title of presentation
    2. Include In-Text Citations

      Any information that you reference on your slides that is not common knowledge must include an in-text citation.
    3. Cite Images & Figures

      Any images or figures within your presentation need to be cited on the references page only, using one of these formats:
      • Artist Last Name, First Initial. (Year). Title of the image [Format]. Retrieved from URL (address of web site)
      • Title of work [Type of work]. (Year image was created). Retrieved from http://
    4. Add a References Slide

      All sources cited throughout your presentation must be included on a separate References slide at the end of your presentation:
      • Cite your references according to 6th edition APA Guidelines
      • Double-space all references and use hanging indentation
      • Title the slide "References”

    View a Sample

    Click to download a sample PowerPoint presentation.

    Power Point