MS PowerPoint Chapter 3: Slide Structure


Section 3.1: Slide Designs

PowerPoint gives you the ability to place a “Design” template on the slide. Many of these designs are accessible, but you need to ask the following questions when choosing one.

  1. Does the design have a background and text with a strong color contrast ratio?

  2. Is the background distracting?

  3. Is the font readable?

If you can find a design that does not have any of those issues, it will be fine to use. To add a Slide Design,

  1. Open a blank presentation in PowerPoint.

  2. Click the “Design” tab, and select your slide theme.

    Design Button in PowerPoint
  3. We now have our slide, and some information on what the presentation is about.

    A slide for Microsoft PowerPoint Accessibility

As a general rule, create any slide for your PowerPoint with the prebuilt slide designs. By creating your own designs, you are risking the slide to look out of order, less organized, and less aesthetically pleasing. By using the prebuilt designs, the presentation will be easier to read, and understand.

Section 3.2: Slide Layout

When you create a slide, you want the reading order to remain consistent. To do this, you want to choose slides that have a similar layout. You want the title to be at the top, so it will be read first. Then any text you have would go under the title and read second. Finally, any photos you have on your slide will be to the right or under the text to be read last. Some slides are built for the photo to be at the top or the title on the bottom. We do not use them because screen readers will read the title first. This mix up could make people who use screen readers have a harder time reading the slide.

This slide has a title box below the content text box. This will confuse readers since the title should always be read first at the top.

This slide has the title box and content text box in the correct places and will be read in order.

Section 3.3: Slide Titles

Each slide needs to have an accurate, and informative title. The slide title informs the readers on what the slide is about. It is also a good idea to put the title at the top of the slide. This will allow readers to see the title before anything else. Also keep in mind that every slide should have its own name. Try not to have the same name repeat on multiple slides throughout your presentation.

Section 3.4: Slide Numbers

Numbering your slides is very important because it can help your readers navigate your slideshow from slide to slide. If each slide was numbered, then they would have an easier time knowing which slide they are on. Screen readers automatically read slide numbers to the reader if the numbers are made by using the Insert Tab, or by using the Slide Master Tool. Be sure to not create the slide numbers manually. This may cause the screen reader to read the content out of order. One other important thing to do is make sure the font size of the numbers are over 18, and that it is easy to see.

  1. Go to the Insert Tab.

  2. In the text section, select the Slide Number button.

  3. In the Header & Footer box, go to the slide tab. Check the Slide Number Box.

Section 3.5: Headers and Footers

Headers and footers should be inserted in the Slide Master or Layout Masters using a new text box or image. Many people’s first instinct would be to go to Insert > Header & Footer from the ribbon. However, this action creates text boxes that will be read like any other part of the slide.

Section 3.6: Footnotes

Any footnotes made in your PowerPoint will be read by a screen reader. However, there is no way to go from a superscript to its relevant footnote. This means that your title will be read first, then the content of the slide, and finally your footnotes. If you use multiple footnotes in one slide, then a person using a screen reader may have a hard time knowing the footnotes purpose. However, they do have the ability to reread the slide when it is finished. So the information can still reach them, albeit after a little time. To create a footnote,

  1. Type in your information or data.

  2. Type the number of the note (like 1, 2, etc.) in superscript next to the relevant text in the slide body. Click the expand button for the font section. In the font box, check superscript.

  3. Insert a footer and type the same number then the rest of the footnote.

Section 3.7: Columns

When using columns you cannot use the tab key. They must be real and semantic columns that maintain structure and organization of the slide. To create columns, you can use one of two methods. You can either select a slide design that has two sections of the slide for text (excluding the title). You can also do the following steps.

  1. Select a text box.

  2. Under the Paragraph section in the ribbon, select the Columns Button.

  3. Select the number of Columns you want.

Section 3.8: Superscripts and Subscripts

Superscripts and subscripts should be avoided because screen readers will read them as regular text. The best way to write the information with superscripts or subscripts is to write down the words completely.

Section 3.9: Setting the Language

Set Proofing Language for the Whole Presentation

Microsoft Office automatically detects what language your operating system uses and sets that language as the default for programs such as PowerPoint. To manually set the editing language:

  1. Go to the File menu.

  2. Select “More” and then “Options” from the list in the left window pane.

  3. Select Language from the list in the left of the Options dialog.

  4. Under “Office Authoring Languages and Proofing”, select the editing language you want to use.

  5. Click Set as Preferred and then OK.

Specify the Language of Parts

If part of your presentation is written in a different language (for example, a foreign language quote), you must specify this. Here is how:

  1. Select the text that is in a different language.

  2. Go to the Review tab, then click the Language button and click Set Proofing Language option.

  3. Choose the appropriate language in the pop-up dialog.