Monday 18 March 2013

A Powerpoint Gaffe: Changing font mid-word

Photo by Paul Hudson on Flickr
Last year I attended a professional presentation that was reasonably engaging but, if I'm honest, not the most interesting I've been to. There was, however, something truly exceptional in the Power Point slides, which I hadn't seen before.

I'm sure we've all been to presentations where the skills of the presenter have been undermined (or reinforced) by poorly produced visual materials. Having spent some time as a technical person working for a design company, a few things did rub off on me. I know about keeping text styles and number of words used consistent, using the right colours, and keeping in line with corporate branding.

These things may all seem over the top, but there's one important thing to remember on every slide that you produce. You want your audience, as soon as they see the slide, to take in the words in the middle, the message you're trying to get across, the key benefits of buying your product. If they have to hunt around the slide to find that, because the text isn't in the same position or font or colour as on the previous slide, you'll lose their engagement. Don't make them work to find the message.

This presentation had all these things: bright and changing colours, multiple fonts, and text blocks which moved around the screen from slide to slide, and which contained a lot of words. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last, that I see something like this. However, there was a first in this presentation.

It had slides with more than one font on them. I've seen this before. I've seen font changes mid-paragraph. I've seen font changes mid-line. Until this day though, I'd never seen a font change mid-word. Don't believe me? Take a look at this screen grab from the PDF:

Whilst I don't want to get into the use of Comic Sans and when, if ever, you should use it, there is one place where you shouldn't, and that's halfway through a word.