MS PowerPoint Chapter 2: Slide Structure

How do I create my presentations in PowerPoint to have accessible structure and semantic elements?


Section 2.1: Slide Designs

  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 2.2: 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.

A slide with a list of things to do in Japan without a heading. There is also a picture on the slide of a scenic view of Japan's river and city.

This slide shows a list of ideas on what to see, do, and learn about when travelling to Japan. However, the slide does not have a title. This is inaccessible because the readers will not know where to begin in reading the slide or know what the slide content is about.

This slide shows the Dos and Don'ts of travelling to Japan. The slide has a clear title that explains exactly what this slide is about.

Section 2.3: Setting the Language

Set Proofing Language for the Whole Document

Microsoft Office automatically detects what language your operating system uses and sets this 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 document 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 > Language button > Set Proofing Language option.

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

Section 2.4: 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. The same issue will also occur if your apply a “traditional” header or footer from the slide/layout master view. Instead doing it either of those ways, use these methods.

  • Create a new text box and position it at the top or bottom.

  • Insert your header or footer as an image.

These two methods will create a header or footer that is part of the background.

This header was created with the ribbon. Any user can use it and manipulate the content within.

Section 2.5: Footnotes

  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 2.6: 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.

  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 2.7: 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 2.8: Slide Numbers

  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.