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Which fonts look good in presentations? By Kathy Jacobs, Microsoft MVP and webmistress of !""##$%&'%.

asp( )hoosing the fonts for *our presentation can be trick*. +ou can go with the old standb*s of !rial and Times ,ew -oman, but the* get stale prett* fast. On the other hand, going with displa* fonts isn.t alwa*s the best answer either. Start with first principles /ust as *ou would make choices about an* part of *our presentation, to choose the best fonts *ou need to start b* considering *our message and *our audience. Formal or informal? 0hould *our presentation feel formal or informal to *our audience1 This is a two-part decision. 2irst, decide if the content is formal, such as the budget for a corporation, or informal, such as the results of a pri3e drawing. ,e(t, consider whom *ou are talking to. 4pper management will recei5e *our content better if *ou use a more formal font rather than something fun and sill*. 6f * presenting to a group of kids, *ou can go a little wilder with the look of the fonts. Display or content? There are two primar* t*pes of fonts, displa* fonts and content fonts. 7ispla* fonts are show*, flash*, sometimes e(treme-looking. 4se these fonts where there is little te(t to be read and the idea is to catch the audience.s attention. 7ispla* fonts include script fonts, block fonts, engra5ed fonts, and man* others. 6f a font is a little hard to read at small si3es, chances are prett* good that it.s a displa* font.

On the other hand, for blocks of te(t *ou should use content fonts. )ontent fonts are: 8as* to read. )lear at an* si3e.

elpful for mo5ing *our e*e through the material. !s *ou might guess, content fonts are the ones *ou see most often in printed or on-screen materials. The simple sans serif fonts and the simple serif fonts fall into this categor*. Most of the time, *ou will be using content fonts. 9h*1 :ecause if *ou o5eruse displa* fonts, the* lose their impact ; the te(t becomes harder to read and *our audience spends more time figuring out the characters and words than the content. Serif or sans serif? The characters in some fonts ha5e little feet on each character, like the characters in Times ,ew -oman. These fonts are serif fonts. 2onts that don.t ha5e these lines are called sans serif fonts. !n e(ample of a sans serif font is !rial.

0erif fonts help people read long blocks of te(t. The feet help *our e*e mo5e from one character to the ne(t, linking them together in *our brain. 0ans serif fonts, in which each character is independent from its neighbors, are good for reading shorter pieces of information, such as titles and labels. The PowerPoint world is split on whether *ou should use serif or sans serif fonts for PowerPoint te(t. 6 sa* it depends entirel* on what *ou are tr*ing to communicate. 0erif fonts look more formal, especiall* on block characters. 0ans serif fonts are more informal and work better in smaller chunks of te(t. Choosing fonts: ap a font to each content type and stick with it Once *ou know what kinds of fonts *ou want to use, it.s time to pick the actual fonts. :ecause PowerPoint comes with a wide 5ariet* of fonts, *ou don.t ha5e to stick with <ust Times ,ew -oman or !rial. :ut *ou do ha5e to pick the three or four fonts that *ou want to use in *our presentation and stick to them. 9h* onl* three or four1 2onts, like colors and sounds, should be used to trigger a reaction or thought from *our presentation. :* sticking to <ust a few fonts, *ou make it easier for *our audience to catch clues on what *ou are sharing.

ain content font +our first font choice should be the main content font, which *ou will use for most of *our presentation.s te(t. This is the font *ou will use for *our bullet points, for e(ample, and if *ou are presenting charts and graphics, this is the font *ou will use to e(plain or comment on the slide elements. 6 like to stick with a fairl* plain serif font for m* main content font, but 6 don.t like to use Times ,ew -oman. 6nstead, 6 use a font out of the :ookman famil*, which 6 find a little easier to read at large point si3es than Times ,ew -oman. M* second choice is usuall* =aramond or )entur* 0choolbook. 8ach of these choices scales well, each is a5ailable on most machines, and each has a slightl* different feel from the standard Times ,ew -oman. !itles" labels" and captions The ne(t choice is for the titles, labels, and captions. This font should be a little less formal than the content font, but still 5er* readable at all font si3es. :ecause *ou will be using it for both large te(t >titles? and small te(t >labels?, it is a good idea to check the font out in both si3es before *ou choose. This is where sans serif fonts are @uite hand*. 2or this group, choose a non-displa* sans serif font that is eas* to read, widel* a5ailable, and that prints and animates cleanl*. Man* people use !rial here, which works, but is rather ordinar*. 6 prefer some of the sans serif fonts with <ust a little flair, such as Tunga, Tahoma, or Trebuchet. 6 don.t like )omic 0ans. 6t is o5erused, o5erl* informal, and can get prett* ugl* in certain circumstances. Display font +our last font choice >or two, if *ou must? is the font that *ou use to grab the audience.s attention ; the displa* font for *our presentation. 6t should fit with the other fonts in the presentation, but stand out enough that the audience knows that something important is about to happen. To choose wisel*, pick a displa* font that is either on e5er* s*stem or that can be easil* shared. 9ith the wide 5ariet* of displa* fonts out there, this is where *ou can ha5e fun. Practice matching the displa* font to the content.

7ispla* font choices are 5er* personal. 6 don.t ha5e much ad5ice for *ou on choosing one. !ll 6 suggest is to pick the ones up front that *ou want to use and stick with them. Choosing font si#e: $se fonts that can be read by the entire a%dience ,ow that *ou know which fonts *ou are going to use, *ou need to decide what si3e the te(t should be. The basic answer: :ig enough to be seen b* the entire audience. 9hether *ou are presenting li5e to a group of a thousand or creating a kiosk to be run one person at a time, using fonts that are too small is one of the easiest traps *ou can fall into. /ust because *ou need to co5er a lot of content doesn.t mean that it should all go on a single slide. )haracters should alwa*s be big enough to be seen b* e5er* person in the audience. 6f *ou e5er find *ourself sa*ing, A6 know *ou can.t read this, butB,A *ou know that the font is too small. 9hat is big enough1 6f *ou are gi5ing a presentation using a pro<ection s*stem, regular slide te(t should ne5er be smaller than a #C-point character. 6 tr* ne5er to go smaller than #D-point, but 6 know that isn.t alwa*s possible. Eabels and captions should ne5er be smaller than #%-point, and bigger is better. Eabels on charts don.t do much good if the* can.t be read. 6f *ou are creating a presentation for 5iewing at a kiosk, *ou can use slightl* smaller te(t. Feep in mind that human beings are li5ing longer and longer e5er* *ear. Eonger li5es mean more chance that *our audience has people in it who <ust can.t see as well. Feep te(t larger than #$-point to ensure that e5er*one can see what *ou put on the slide. 6f *ou want a formula for font si3es for pro<ected presentations, check out the PowerPoint 2!G entr* A ow big should te(t be1A 6n some cases, *ou will want to be sure that *our fonts are e5en bigger than listed here. 6f *ou are setting up an ad5ertising kiosk to run at a trade show, *ou will want to use the largest te(t *ou can get awa* with for *our attention grabbers. 9ords such as A!nnouncing,A APresenting,A A,ew,A and other e*ecatchers should alwa*s be at least &$-point. :igger is better for these

; 6.5e seen instances where fonts of o5er #$"-point worked and nothing else would ha5e. Choosing attrib%tes: $se sparingly" like spices !ttributes are the little e(tras that *ou add to characters to make them stand out without changing their si3e. The common attributes are bold, italic, and underline. 4se attributes sparingl*. Eike displa* fonts, the* lose their punch when used too much 6f *ou find *ourself making more than a few words bold on a single slide, it is time to rewrite the te(t on the slide. !cti5e words need emphasis less than passi5e ones do, so the more acti5e *ou can make *our te(t, the better it will be. 4se italic e5en more sparingl*. The italic for man* common fonts does not upsi3e well. 6t becomes hard to read 5er* @uickl*. 6f *ou are using italic for emphasis, don.t. 6f *ou are using it to show motion, consider using an animation instead. !bout the onl* place 6 like italic in a presentation is for attribution of a @uote or statistic. 4nderline B oka*, time for Fath*.s bias. 6 hate it. 6f te(t is underlined in toda*.s presentations, it means that the te(t is a link to somewhere else or to the acti5ation of another element. 0ome people also still use underline for book titles. 6f *ou don.t mean the te(t to fall into one of those two buckets, don.t underline it. 6f *ou are looking for a double underline, it doesn.t e(ist in PowerPoint. 6f *ou must use it, *ou will need to group lines with the element holding the te(t. More attributes are a5ailable when *ou click the Font command on the Format menu. )onsider these attributes as minidispla* fonts. 4se them sparingl*, and if *ou must use them, count them in *our one or two displa* fonts per presentation. )oloring fonts in *our presentation can be a useful information trigger to *our audience. Pick *our main color b* finding the contrasting color to *our background. Once *ou ha5e set that color, pick a second color for *our titles. 2inall*, pick other colors as needed to indicate links, buttons, or special meanings. Once *ou pick *our colors, stick to them consistentl*. 7on.t use green for button te(t in one part of a presentation and *ellow in another. +ou will confuse *our audience and make it harder for them to use *our presentation.

9hen *ou are picking *our font colors, ha5e other people test the combinations. /ust because *ou can see the different o5erlapping colors doesn.t mean that e5er*one else can. &bo%t the a%thor: Fath* /acobs. latest book, Fath* /acobs on PowerPoint, is a5ailable through most ma<or booksellers. 9hen she.s not writing about PowerPoint, Fath* puts the rest of her time into email, =irl 0couts, and outdoor cooking >especiall* using 7utch o5ens?. er husband is also a computer nerd and outdoor cook. The* li5e in Phoeni(, !ri3ona, and lo5e the weather.