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Presentations in Medicine & Science: Preparing Slides

Resources to help assist you make good presentations in different formats. Posters and oral presentations

Preparing Slides

Presentation Design:

  • Don’t overload your slides with too much text or data.
  • FOCUS. In general, using a few powerful slides is the aim.
  • Let the picture or graphic tell the story. Avoid text.
  • Type key words in the PowerPoint Notes area listing what to say when displaying the slide. The notes are printable and do not appear on the slides.
  • Number your slides and give them a title.
  • Use the “summary slide” feature in slide sorter view to prepare an Agenda or Table of Contents slide.
  • Prepare a company logo slide for your presentation.
  • You can add a logo and other graphics to every slide using the slide master feature.
  • Proofread everything, including visuals and numbers.
  • Keep “like” topics together
  • Strive for similar line lengths for text.

Visual Elements

  • A font size of 28 to 34 in a bold is recommended for subtitles.
    • The title default size is 44
    • Use a san serif font for titles
  • Use clear, simple visuals. Graphics should make a key concept clearer
  • Use contrast: light on dark or dark on light.
  • Place your graphics in a similar location within each screen.
  • To temporarily clear the screen press W or B during the presentation. Press Enter to resume the presentation.


  • Font size must be large enough to be easily read. Size 28 to 34 with a bold font is recommended.
  • It is distracting if you use a wide a variety of fonts.
  • Overuse of text is a common mistake.
    • Too much text makes the slide unreadable. You may just as well show a blank slide. Stick to a few key words. 
    • If your audience is reading the slides they are not paying attention to you. If possible, make your point with graphics instead of text.
    • You can use the Word Art feature in Powerpoint, or a clip art image of a sign, to convey text in a more interesting way.


  • Numbers are usually confusing to the audience. Use as few as possible and allow extra time for the audience to do the math.
  • Numbers should never be ultra precise:
    • “Anticipated Revenues of $660,101.83” looks silly. Are your numbers that accurate? Just say $660 thousand.
    • “The Break Even Point is 1048.17 units”. Are you selling fractions of a unit?
    • Don’t show pennies. Cost per unit is about the only time you would need to show pennies.
  • If you have more than 12-15 numbers on a slide, that’s probably too many.
  • Using only one number per sentence helps the audience absorb the data.


  • Use the same scale for numbers on a slide. Don’t compare thousands to millions.
  • Cite your source on the same slide as the statistic, using a smaller size font.


  • Charts need to be clearly labeled. You can make more interesting charts by adding elements from the drawing toolbar.
  • Numbers in tables are both hard to see and to understand. There is usually a better way to present your numerical data than with columns and rows of numbers. Get creative!
  • PowerPoint deletes portions of charts and worksheets that are imported from Excel, keeping only the leftmost 5.5 inches.


  • The background of a slide should never distract from the presentation.
  • Using the default white background is hard on the viewer’s eyes. You can easily add a design style or a color to the background.
  • Backgrounds that are light colored with dark text, or vice versa, look good. A dark background with white font reduces glare.
  • Colors appear lighter when projected. Pale colors often appear as white.
  • Consistent backgrounds add to a professional appearance.
  • For a long presentation, you may want to change background designs when shifting to a new topic or section.


  • Sounds and transition effects can be annoying. Use sparingly.
  • Animation effects can be interesting when used in moderation.
    • Too much animation is distracting.
    • Consider using animated clip art
    • Consider using custom animation
  • You can insert video and audio clips into PowerPoint.
  • You can also insert hyperlinks.

Medical Librarian

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Matt Bridgeman
Robert Wood Johnson Library of the Heath Sciences
MEB 101

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