An easy to read 35mm slide makes you look better to your audience. Remember the following points when you design your slides, because knowing how to design easy-to-read slides is quite different than knowing how to design good copy for printing on paper.
- Use horizontal images (landscape rather than portrait), with width equal to one-and-one-half times the height. An ideal page size for slides is 7.33 inches by 11.00 inches, but some software offers other sizes.
- Keep your text to a minimum on each line. You do not need to use full sentences on a slide. Just use key words from your speech. If you put all the words you say on the slide, people will pay less attention to you as you speak.
- Use only a few items per slide. Use either bullets or numbers to distinguish each item from the others. Your audience will pay more attention if the slides change frequently than they will if you keep the same slide showing for a long time.
- Use large type, preferably a typeface that has no serifs, such as Arial. Serifs on the letters help the eye move from letter to letter on paper, but tests have shown them to be a hindrance on slides.
- Leave space around the edges of your text. Words that go right to the edge of the slide can get cut off and do not look good. If you have too many words to fit comfortably, you need to make a second slide, not jam more onto the one you have by making the text smaller or going right to the edges.
- To distinguish between different areas (for example, in a bar chart), use different colors rather than different patterns. Many patterns (diagonal lines, cross-hatching, etc.) are composed of lines with "zero", or minimum thickness. Minimum thickness on 35mm film is so thin that it is very hard to see.
- With projected light, bright, light, warm colors seem to advance toward the viewer, while dark, cool colors seem to recede. Therefore, use darker, cooler colors for your background and brighter, ligher colors for your text. The eye is most sensitive to yellow light, thus most people use yellow for their titles and highlighted, important text.
- If you want to put a scanned image on your slide, use one with an appropriate size. If you want a picture to take up one-quarter of the slide, a 600x900 pixel image is the right size. Note that if you are doing the scanning yourself, you get 600x900 pixels by scanning a 6x9 inch photo at 100 dpi, a 2x3 inch photo at 300 dpi, or something similar. You should not use a scan which is too small or too large.
- Here is an article by Reid Goldsborough with some more tips on making a good presentation.
Photographic Specialties is no longer producing slides and transparencies. I have been self-employed for 35 years, but looking forward to retirement since my wife died five years ago. With the decline of conventional photography and the recent recession, the availability of film and chemicals as well as the volume of work has declined to such an extent that it is no longer possible to have fresh chemicals to develop film. I hope that if you still need conventional slides and transparencies, you will be able to find someone who can produce them for you. Thank you for your orders over the years.
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