The fonts you use in your slide deck — whether for a live presentation or slide dock — shouldn’t be an afterthought. For better or worse (we’re looking at you, Papyrus and Comic Sans), fonts have so much personality but shouldn’t overpower or distract from the message you’re trying to convey. Here’s how to strike a balance with the fonts you use without losing sight of the goal of your presentation.
Know your audience
Before even putting words together, first consider if your slide deck will be presented in front of a live audience or sent out for others to read on their own time. In a live presentation, you will want fewer words per slide since you’ll have to consider the size of the screen on which your deck will be displayed. Conversely, when viewed on someone’s computer screen, you have more flexibility with font size and the amount of text to make sure your message is fully conveyed.
Understand your options
Yes, there are serif and sans-serif fonts, but you’ll also want to consider fonts that have multiple weights within the font family, such as bold, light, ultralight, and thin. That way, you’ll have more options for each block of text on a slide, from primary to supporting information. What’s more, choose fonts that are compatible with your team’s or company’s operating system (Mac or PC). Detailed lists of the fonts you can use for each system can be found with a simple Google search, but Aerial tends to be a safe bet for both systems.
Consider the style guide
Some brands are very specific about which fonts they want used and how to use them, but hopefully, you can still play around with other elements on the deck, like colors and how the copy is laid out on each slide. Use that as an opportunity to create visual interest and hierarchy while making sure it’s all legible and easy to understand.
Each element on a slide has its own function and should be treated as such. There are headlines, subheadings, body text, callouts, pull quotes, and even infographics, but you shouldn’t include them all on one slide. Ask yourself: What do you want someone to look at first? Make that big, bold, and quick to read, then decrease size and weight from there. Repeat elements on the following slides if you think the audience won’t have enough time to digest it all.
As with any live presentation, less is more when it comes to your deck. That applies to the number of words on each slide, as well as how many fonts you’re using (never more than two per slide, as a rule of thumb). Let your words do the talking in that case. With slide docks, however, if you have a lot of information to include, following the rules we’ve set out for you should still make your message clear and concise.
What are some of your favorite fonts?