11. Formatting Tips for Your Deck

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Formatting your business presentation properly is critically important. Nothing should distract your audience from the message you are conveying. In this lesson, I give you all my formatting tips for sit-down presentations.


Formatting tips for your deck

- Poor formatting can really affect your presentation's ability to influence an audience
- At best, it will just cost you time and audience attention
- Poor formatting often comes down to not using a template correctly

Some additional formatting tips

- Always include page numbers
- Put a source at the bottom of every slide
- Understand the difference between 4:3 and 16:9
- Align content using guides
- Make sure your font size is large for stand-up presentations
- The coverpage should have a different design to every other slide


Poor formatting in a presentation can really affect its ability to influence an audience.

If the audience continues to notice mistakes or inconsistencies, it can impact your credibility and the nature of your message.

Poor formatting often comes down to not using a template correctly.

If you are unsure of how to use templates, be sure to check out my course on this topic.

In there, I will show you how to ensure that your fonts, colors, shapes, and textboxes stay consistent throughout the presentation.

With long presentations, be sure to include page numbers on all of your slides.

Too many times in my career, I've seen executives struggle to navigate a presentation that did not include page numbers.

This can really frustrate your audience.

To include page numbers, go to File, Print, and edit Header and Footer, making sure that the Slide number checkbox is checked.

I would also recommend putting in a source bar at the bottom of every slide.

Whatever information you put on a slide, just include your sources for that information here.

If a member of your audience wants to question the veracity of a number, they can just refer to this part of the slide typically located at the bottom.

To add a source bar, let’s go to the Slide Master and create a textbox at the bottom of the slide.

I’ll extend its length, color the text gray, and set the size to say nine.

In our charts, we can now enter a source automatically on every slide.

It’s good practice to include a source on every slide even if that source line just says “team analysis”.

It really adds rigor to your presentation.

The next item to bear in mind regarding formatting are slide dimensions.

In later versions of PowerPoint, the default dimensions have switched from 4:3 to 16:9.

When you're printing a sit-down presentation, be sure to stick with 4:3.

If you're doing a stand-up presentation, 16:9 may work better, particularly if shown on a widescreen television.

It’s often worth checking this with the venue beforehand.

Guides and gridlines are a very important part of presentation formatting because they ensure that the content on your page is aligned correctly.

The standard guides that we have used previously ensured that our content was present in the center of the page.

However, we can adjust our guides to guarantee other alignments as well.

For example, if you wanted to ensure that your textbox is aligned with the title at the top of the page, you can move the vertical guide across to align with the left-hand side of the title like this.

To make sure that your charts are in the same place on every slide, I would make use of the chart placeholder.

Every slide with a chart should be created with this template.

While you can change your chart size to suit a particular slide, it’s always nice to start off with a consistent default setting where possible.

The text on your page should adhere to the points I mentioned in the Master the Textbox course.

Where possible, your text should be in bullets, and those bullets should have a parallel structure.

Determining the correct text size can be influenced by a number of factors.

Firstly, if your sit-down presentation is going to be viewed on a screen, you may need to keep text above 16.

If you're going to print out copies of the document, which I always recommend, you can get away with a text size as low as 12.

You can vary the text size from slide to slide, but I would try to keep a text size consistent within a slide if possible.

So if you decide to go with a font size of 14, try to use 14 throughout the slide aside from the title.

These are my formatting tips for regular slides.

Now let’s take a look at the cover page.

Your cover page should have a different format to your typical slide and include the title of the presentation, the location, the date, a disclaimer if necessary, and the names of your audience group.

This has pretty much become a standard for business presentations.

If you incorporate these simple formatting tips into your presentations, they will make your slides look much more professional.

And really enhance the impact of your document.