Category Archives: Fonts

Typography and Typesetting in PowerPoint: The Presentation Podcast Episode #23

The Presentation Podcast

Episode #23, Typography and Typesetting is live.

This week we’re talking not just fonts, but how to make your typography look professional in PowerPoint through spacing, justification, sizing and placement for various types of presentations. No, PowerPoint doesn’t have the powerful type tools of InDesign, but you can still do a lot more than you think you can to produce a professional looking result.

Don’t forget to give us a rating on iTunes if you like the Podcast and want to help spread the word!

Subscribe on iTunes and check out the show notes for more info.

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Categories: Design, Fonts, PowerPoint.

New Solutions for Old PowerPoint Font Problems + Software Giveaway!

Font issues are probably the #1 complaint when it comes to PowerPoint. For as long as the program has been in existence, if you wanted to be certain that others were viewing your presentation that way you designed it, you had to stick with the limited and generally boring collection of “safe” fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman and the like. Presentitude.com has great information on the safe fonts. Yes, you can embed some fonts for users of PCs (Mac don’t support embedded fonts), but I have never recommended doing that for about a thousand reasons. Trust me, it leads to tears.

Solutions to the font problem include making a PDF or turning your slides into pictures, both of which eliminate animation and any hope of editing. Sure, you could send the font file to your client, but have you ever tried to walk someone with zero computer knowledge through installing a font over the phone? More tears.

After all these years, there is still no perfect solution, and the font landscape has actually gotten more complicated for PowerPoint even as it’s gotten far better for web content and Adobe documents with web fonts, Google fonts and typekit.

But there are two new-ish tools out there for drying those PowerPoint font tears.

Presentation Font Embedder for the Mac + Software Giveaway!

PowerPoint for the Mac has never been able to embed fonts or read fonts embedded in a presentation on the PC side, but this new app, available on the App Store, solves the first problem by letting a Mac user embed fonts used in a presentation so that those embedded fonts can be read and used by a PC user. This may be useful for some people and some workflows, but you still can only embed TrueType fonts and then only certain TrueType fonts. Furthermore, even though you can embed the fonts, once you open the presentation on the Mac, you still get the warning that Mac cannot do anything with the fonts. So, this is not a solution for sending a presentation to other Mac users.presentation font embedder

But Presentation Font Embedder adds a second option called “Universal” embedding (the first method is called “Editable”) which takes all your live text boxes and converts them to transparent images. This is very cool, and you can actually see the conversion happening slide by slide resulting in a deck whose typography will look the way you want it to look on all computers and platforms. Animations as long as they are applied to whole text boxes are retained.

The app is drag and drop and stupidly easy to use. I don’t see that many users taking advantage of the “Editable” method, but can definitely see the benefit of the “Universal” one. Note though that the resolution the text is saved out as may be less than optimal for retina displays.

If you’re someone who could benefit from the new app, I’ve got 5 free licenses to give away. First 5 people to contact me will get one. Just email me.

Text-to-Outline PowerPoint Add-in

Jamie Garroch and YouPresent, makers of custom PowerPoint solutions, have created a very cool PowerPoint add-in called Text-to-Outline that, you guessed it, converts live text to vector outlines, meaning your fonts are no longer fonts, but shapes that can be viewed by anyone on any platform. No font files required!

Outlining fonts has long been a trick of graphic designers for distributing art files. For example, a designer might create a logo using a typeface, but when creating distributable files, will outline that type so it will look the way it should. Below is the result of a line of type run through the add-in.PowerPoint Text to Outline Add-in 1.png

 

Text-to-Outlines is simple to install use. You have options for saving only certain fonts, only certain selected text boxes or fonts throughout an entire presentation. And it will even save your live type on the pasteboard for you if you like, just in case.
PowerPoint Text to Outline Add-in 2

The only downside with Text-to-Outlines is that, of course, it is only for PCs. But it does work on 2013 and 2016, and has a number of applications beyond sharing presentations which Jamie discusses here.

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Categories: Fonts, PowerPoint.

The 44 Safe Fonts for PowerPoint

At the recent Presentation Summit, my good friend Johanna Rehnvall presented an absolutely killer reference tool for choosing fonts in PowerPoint. We all know that there are only certain fonts that you can be certain everyone else opening your file will have. But what are those fonts?…where can you find a list?…What do those fonts look like?…

Johanna had all these questions time and again, so she created “The Periodic Table of PowerPoint Fonts,” an interactive guide to the 44 standard fonts found on most PCs.

Divided by Serif, Sans Serif and Script typefaces, it a highly visual font picker and reference that everyone should keep on their desktops.

Download it here.

And check out Johanna’s site at www.presentitude.com.

And special thanks, of course, to Echo Swinford and Julie Terberg and their book, Building PowerPoint Templates, for providing the raw material (and standing ovation) to Johanna.

More on Fonts for Presentation… 

 

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Categories: Fonts, PowerPoint.

11 Rules for Better Presentation Typography

1. Use Sans Serif Fonts

Much has been written on this topic, so I will just say that I much prefer sans serif fonts (such as Helvetica or Century Gothic) to serif fonts (such as Times New Roman.) The difference is in those little embellishments on the letters which are called “serifs.” Traditionally, serifs helped the eye to read printed text by linking the letters, but today they generally mark something as a text-heavy document. 

On-screen presentation—which should have far fewer words than a printed piece—generally calls for sans serif fonts.

2. Use Standard Fonts

Here’s the scoop: If you use a cool custom font, then send your presentation to another computer for viewing or editing, your work will no longer look the way you intended it to if the new computer does not have your custom font installed. “But I’m using a font that came installed with my PC!,” you say. Well, here’s a secret: Every version of Windows and every business’s system configuration can contain different sets of fonts. You can be guaranteed of always having a few in common, but don’t assume everyone has Gill Sans…

“Can’t I just include the font file?” you ask? Well, you may know how to add a font to your computer, but most of corporate America does not (trust me.) Then what happens when someone forgets to keep the font with the file, or a company’s security policy forbids font installation? And then there are the legal issues to sharing a purchased font… 

Believe me, I hate Arial as much as the next person, but what I really hate is getting a call from a client or boss complaining that the text is all F’d up and I need to fix it immediately. 

So, do I ever use custom fonts? Occasionally. But I do it ONLY when I am 100% confident that I will be controlling every version of a deck on my own computers or if I will ONLY be distributing a PDF to others. 

I wrote about my favorite standard font here

3. Be VERY careful turning text into a graphic

One technique for using non-standard fonts in a presentation is to turn the text into a graphic, either with Photoshop or Illustrator, or by using copy and paste-special (as a .png) within PowerPoint.

I use both of these techniques, but the challenge is that you end up with uneditable text that cannot be changed or added to by other users. Whenever possible, you want to keep PowerPoint files completely editable by all users, so tread carefully.

4. Don’t Embed Fonts

PowerPoint has long offered the ability to embed fonts into a file so that other users without specified custom fonts can view and edit a presentation. The problem here is that font embedding is simply one of the program’s buggiest feature. In short, only certain TrueType fonts can be embedded, the feature is not cross-platform, and there is a good chance that an embedded font will corrupt a presentation, making it uneditable even by the original owner. Just avoid to prevent teary late nights.  

5. Avoid “Subtlety”

Thin fonts (such as Helvetica Light) are favorites of print designers, but they have a tendency to break up on screen, especially at smaller type sizes. 

Similarly, text without enough contrast (such as light gray type over a white background) may completely disappear in low contrast screen situations such as a brightly lit room with an underpowered projector. 

Keep things beefy and high contrast.

6. Avoid Centering Multiple lines of text

Headers need not be top left justified, but if you do center your headers, don’t let your text extend beyond a single line. It will take the eye longer to “carriage-return” from one line to the one below it if the next words are not in the same horizontal position as those above it. You should be helping an audience read as quickly as possible, not challenging their eyeballs. 

You can more easily get away with multiple lines of centered text in the body of a slide, but you do need to keep the left sides of your paragraphs as neat and in line as possible (see “soft returns” below.)

7. Use Tabs & Soft Returns

It’s tempting to keep hitting the spacebar to create space within a line of text or to move a word to the next line without creating a new paragraph, but it’s really bad form. Set and use tabs to move text; and hit shift-return to create a “soft return” when you want to avoid starting a new paragraph. You’ll thank me when your boss starts editing your text.

Pay particular attention to using soft returns when your paragraphs break up sets of words that really should be kept together. For example, if your layout leaves “United” at the end of one line and “Nations” on the next, put a soft return in before “United” so this phrase stays whole. (Professional layout programs have options to prevent phrases like these from ever breaking, but alas you have to do it manually in PowerPoint.) 

8. Emphasize Text Correctly

Whether producing a document for print or for screen with PowerPoint, create restrained variety by varying text through:

  • Bold Type
  • Contrasting Colored Type
  • Larger Sized Type
  • All Caps/Small Caps
  • Isolation from other text on a page (use of negative space)

Note that you can italicize text to highlight, but I have found that with most fonts, this doesn’t create as strong a contrast on screen as do the above solutions. So just make sure it’s catching your viewer’s eye the way you want it to. 

Here are a two incorrect ways to emphasize text…

  • Different Fonts. Only mix and match fonts if it is for a very specific purpose such as putting all headers in a handwritten font or putting a series of block quotes in a serif font. You’ll hear many people say to limit your slides to a maximum of two or three fonts. 95% of my presentations use a single font. Stick to one.
  • Underlined Text. This is a holdover from the days of typewriters. In addition to underlining being very difficult on the eye to read, today it simply indicates a hyperlink. So only use it for hyperlinks

9. Avoid Widows & Orphans

There is some disagreement as to what exactly defines a “widow” or “orphan,” and in print layout there is more to consider. But for presentation purposes let’s define widows and orphans as words that appear all by their lonesome on the last line of a paragraph or that jut out from the right side of a paragraph, breaking the vertical right line of a left-justified paragraph. 

These typographical outliers create visual tension and make for more difficult reading. The solution is to use soft returns (see above) to wrap text in a more visually pleasing manner. But watch out: as text is edited, you may have to remove or change some of these soft returns.

10. Use Paragraph & Line Spacing

Do NOT hit return twice to insert a space between paragraphs. Instead, use paragraph spacing to set a value for “after paragraph.” This will save you extra keystrokes and allow you to globally adjust spacing on a page should you need to fill things out or squeeze in extra content. Paragraph spacing can be set in a master text box or for any individual chunk of text.

Line spacing in PowerPoint is set to a default of “1” but I often find that a little much and change it to “.9” If you do change line spacing, make sure you do a multiple of 1 instead of an actual text point size. This will ensure things don’t get out of whack when you have to change the font size on a page. 

11. One Space After a Period

Sorry folks, but this is neither a choice, nor a matter of stylistic preference. Two spaces after a period was a necessary convention to separate sentences when we used typewriters and all letters were the same width. 

Unless you’re using a single space font (like Courier) to mimic a typewriter, stick to one space after a period. Period.

 

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Categories: Design, Fonts, PowerPoint.

11 Rules for Better Presentation Typography

1. Use Sans Serif Fonts

Much has been written on this topic, so I will just say that I much prefer sans serif fonts (such as Helvetica or Century Gothic) to serif fonts (such as Times New Roman.) The difference is in those little embellishments on the letters which are called “serifs.” Traditionally, serifs helped the eye to read printed text by linking the letters, but today they generally mark something as a text-heavy document. 

On-screen presentation—which should have far fewer words than a printed piece—generally calls for sans serif fonts.

2. Use Standard Fonts

Here’s the scoop: If you use a cool custom font, then send your presentation to another computer for viewing or editing, your work will no longer look the way you intended it to if the new computer does not have your custom font installed. “But I’m using a font that came installed with my PC!,” you say. Well, here’s a secret: Every version of Windows and every business’s system configuration can contain different sets of fonts. You can be guaranteed of always having a few in common, but don’t assume everyone has Gill Sans…

“Can’t I just include the font file?” you ask? Well, you may know how to add a font to your computer, but most of corporate America does not (trust me.) Then what happens when someone forgets to keep the font with the file, or a company’s security policy forbids font installation? And then there are the legal issues to sharing a purchased font… 

Believe me, I hate Arial as much as the next person, but what I really hate is getting a call from a client or boss complaining that the text is all F’d up and I need to fix it immediately. 

So, do I ever use custom fonts? Occasionally. But I do it ONLY when I am 100% confident that I will be controlling every version of a deck on my own computers or if I will ONLY be distributing a PDF to others. 

I wrote about my favorite standard font here

3. Be VERY careful turning text into a graphic

One technique for using non-standard fonts in a presentation is to turn the text into a graphic, either with Photoshop or Illustrator, or by using copy and paste-special (as a .png) within PowerPoint.

I use both of these techniques, but the challenge is that you end up with uneditable text that cannot be changed or added to by other users. Whenever possible, you want to keep PowerPoint files completely editable by all users, so tread carefully.

4. Don’t Embed Fonts

PowerPoint has long offered the ability to embed fonts into a file so that other users without specified custom fonts can view and edit a presentation. The problem here is that font embedding is simply one of the program’s buggiest feature. In short, only certain TrueType fonts can be embedded, the feature is not cross-platform, and there is a good chance that an embedded font will corrupt a presentation, making it uneditable even by the original owner. Just avoid to prevent teary late nights.  

5. Avoid “Subtlety”

Thin fonts (such as Helvetica Light) are favorites of print designers, but they have a tendency to break up on screen, especially at smaller type sizes. 

Similarly, text without enough contrast (such as light gray type over a white background) may completely disappear in low contrast screen situations such as a brightly lit room with an underpowered projector. 

Keep things beefy and high contrast.

6. Avoid Centering Multiple lines of text

Headers need not be top left justified, but if you do center your headers, don’t let your text extend beyond a single line. It will take the eye longer to “carriage-return” from one line to the one below it if the next words are not in the same horizontal position as those above it. You should be helping an audience read as quickly as possible, not challenging their eyeballs. 

You can more easily get away with multiple lines of centered text in the body of a slide, but you do need to keep the left sides of your paragraphs as neat and in line as possible (see “soft returns” below.)

7. Use Tabs & Soft Returns

It’s tempting to keep hitting the spacebar to create space within a line of text or to move a word to the next line without creating a new paragraph, but it’s really bad form. Set and use tabs to move text; and hit shift-return to create a “soft return” when you want to avoid starting a new paragraph. You’ll thank me when your boss starts editing your text.

Pay particular attention to using soft returns when your paragraphs break up sets of words that really should be kept together. For example, if your layout leaves “United” at the end of one line and “Nations” on the next, put a soft return in before “United” so this phrase stays whole. (Professional layout programs have options to prevent phrases like these from ever breaking, but alas you have to do it manually in PowerPoint.) 

8. Emphasize Text Correctly

Whether producing a document for print or for screen with PowerPoint, create restrained variety by varying text through:

  • Bold Type
  • Contrasting Colored Type
  • Larger Sized Type
  • All Caps/Small Caps
  • Isolation from other text on a page (use of negative space)

Note that you can italicize text to highlight, but I have found that with most fonts, this doesn’t create as strong a contrast on screen as do the above solutions. So just make sure it’s catching your viewer’s eye the way you want it to. 

Here are a two incorrect ways to emphasize text…

  • Different Fonts. Only mix and match fonts if it is for a very specific purpose such as putting all headers in a handwritten font or putting a series of block quotes in a serif font. You’ll hear many people say to limit your slides to a maximum of two or three fonts. 95% of my presentations use a single font. Stick to one.
  • Underlined Text. This is a holdover from the days of typewriters. In addition to underlining being very difficult on the eye to read, today it simply indicates a hyperlink. So only use it for hyperlinks

9. Avoid Widows & Orphans

There is some disagreement as to what exactly defines a “widow” or “orphan,” and in print layout there is more to consider. But for presentation purposes let’s define widows and orphans as words that appear all by their lonesome on the last line of a paragraph or that jut out from the right side of a paragraph, breaking the vertical right line of a left-justified paragraph. 

These typographical outliers create visual tension and make for more difficult reading. The solution is to use soft returns (see above) to wrap text in a more visually pleasing manner. But watch out: as text is edited, you may have to remove or change some of these soft returns.

10. Use Paragraph & Line Spacing

Do NOT hit return twice to insert a space between paragraphs. Instead, use paragraph spacing to set a value for “after paragraph.” This will save you extra keystrokes and allow you to globally adjust spacing on a page should you need to fill things out or squeeze in extra content. Paragraph spacing can be set in a master text box or for any individual chunk of text.

Line spacing in PowerPoint is set to a default of “1” but I often find that a little much and change it to “.9” If you do change line spacing, make sure you do a multiple of 1 instead of an actual text point size. This will ensure things don’t get out of whack when you have to change the font size on a page. 

11. One Space After a Period

Sorry folks, but this is neither a choice, nor a matter of stylistic preference. Two spaces after a period was a necessary convention to separate sentences when we used typewriters and all letters were the same width. 

Unless you’re using a single space font (like Courier) to mimic a typewriter, stick to one space after a period. Period.

 

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Categories: Design, Fonts, PowerPoint.

My Favorite Presentation Font

Like most graphic designers, I have thousands of fonts on my computer that I’ve collected over the years. And, like most graphic designers, I probably only ever use a half dozen of those fonts on any regular basis. When it comes to presentation, I use even fewer.

At Edelman, we use Franklin Gothic as it’s one of the more professional-looking fonts included in our standard PC build—even though it should not be considered a “standard font.” (When distributing presentations digitally, we nearly always convert to PDF, which eliminates any issues if the receiver does not have Franklin Gothic.)

But when I’m not using Franklin Gothic or the dreaded Arial (which is often an unfortunate necessity), my favorite font is Century Gothic.

Like Arial and Times New Roman, Century Gothic is a standard font available on nearly all PCs and Macs. Unlike those first two stalwarts, however, Century Gothic has maintained a relatively fresh, contemporary feel. It feels modern and clean with just the right amount of stylization. 

Century Gothic is to Justin Long’s Mac as Arial is to John Hodgman’s PC.

It is also on the wide side, which I like to think forces shorter headlines and text blocks (unlike Arial Narrow which seems to beg for overwriting.)

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Categories: Design, Fonts, PowerPoint.
visual training presentation