MS PowerPoint Chapter 2: Styles and Appearances


Section 2.1: Color Contrast

When typing in text you want to consider the color contrast between the text and the background. For small text (under size 18), a good contrast ratio to aim for is 4.5:1 or higher. For bigger text (over size 18) a good contrast ratio is 3:1 or higher. Black text on a white background or 21:1 is considered to be the most accessible contrast ratio. Backgrounds with crazy features or patterns should be avoided at all costs. To check if your color contrast ratio is sufficient, you should use Adobe’s Color Contrast Analyzer tool.

A slide with a poor color contrast ratio.

This slide above has a contrast ratio of 1.13 : 1. This is very low and hardly visible to most readers.

Slide with a good color contrast ratio.

This slide above has a contrast ratio of 21 : 1.

Section 2.2: Using Color to Convey Meaning

If you are going to use color to convey information, always include a text alternative. Color alone is not enough to show off information. For example, if color blind users look at a chart may not be able to read the data. They may also struggle to know which color belongs to which section.

This pie chart for the “Most Popular Sports in the USA” only uses color to represent the data. A person who is color-blind may not be able to tell the difference between the colors. Therefore they cannot read the data.

After your pie chart is finished, you need to provide an alt text for the chart. To do this, right click on the chart and select Alt Text. The Alt Text panel will appear on the right side of the screen. Type in your alt text.

Section 2.3: Transitions and Animations

As cool as transitions and animations can make your presentation, do not use them very often. Many of them are time consuming, distracting, and most importantly could overwhelm viewers.

For transitions, it is best to not use them at all. To make this setting,

  1. Go to the Transitions Tab

  2. Click “None”.

For animations, the rules are a little more lenient. The best effect to use is the green “appear” effect. This effect will just make your words appear on the presentation. To use this animation,

  1. Highlight the text you want animated and go to the Animations Tab.

  2. Click the Appear Button.

When using animations, be sure to have them appear in the right order from top to bottom. Do not use any of the yellow or red animations. They make text disappear or activate an effect at a time when it would not be appropriate for one.

Section 2.4: Can I use Flashing and Blinking Images or GIFs?

As a general rule, you should avoid any flashing or blinking images. Flashing, blinking, or flickering content can trigger epileptic seizures. If you do have flashing or blinking images, be sure they do not flash more than 3 times per second. For animations, do not use any flashing or flickering animations. Just use the simple “Appear” animation.