Visual Design Principles In Short

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Summary of the Visual Design Principles Presentation

by Maria Woodside Oriakhi (Bahamas)

The presentation was given by Dr. Doris Choy, National Institute of Education, Singapore.

In designing effective powerpoint presentation the following key points were established

  • think big
  • be consistent
  • be clear
  • be progressive
  • be simple

Think Big

  • estimate the size of the presentation by viewing approximately 2 metres away

Be consistent

  • differences draw attention
  • differences may imply importance
  • use surprises to attract not distract

Be Clear

  • capitalisation
    • upper and lower case letters are easier
  • fonts
    • serif fonts are difficult to read on screen
    • sanserif fonts are clearer
    • italics are difficult to read on screen
    • normal or bold fonts are clearer
    • underlines may signify hyperlinks
    • instead, use colours to emphasise
  • line spacing
    • if lines are too close, they tend to blend in together when view at a distance. Therefore, it will be difficult to read.
    • if lines are too far apart, viewers will not see them as separate points. It will be hard to follow when reading the information
    • if lines spacing should be just right for the ease of reading
  • numbers
    • use numbers for lists with sequence
  • bullets
    • use bullets to show a list without
      • priority
      • sequence
      • hierarchy,etc.
  • colours
    • use contrasting colours
    • light on dark vs dark on light
    • use complementary colours
  • focal point
    • focal points direct attention

Be Progressive

  • not too much information given all at once

Be Simple

  • text
    • not too many colours
    • not too many fonts and styles
    • remember the 6 x 7 rule
      • no more than 6 lines per slide
      • no more than 7 words per line
  • picture
    • art work may distract your audience
    • display range from line drawing to complex photographs
    • static display of a concept map or mind map using transition
  • sound
    • sound effects may distract
    • use sound only when necessary
  • animation
    • simple and to the point

Final Words

  • Communication is the key
  • Text to support the communication
  • Pictures to simplify complex concepts
  • Animations for complex relationships
  • Visuals to support, not to distract
  • Sounds only when absolutely necessary


This was followed by an activity in which we

  • reviewed a sample powerpoint
  • discussed the sample in groups of 2 – 3
  • critiqued each slide in the template
  • created and applied at least three visual design characteristics in our PPT presentation
  • shared our findings and our visual design creativity