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Center for Health Sciences
Family Medicine
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Faculty Development

Visual Design Guidelines

These Visual Design Guidelines apply to all visuals either presented through PowerPoint, overheads or 35 mm slides.


  • Limit the text on each slide to 6 lines per slide and 6 words per line
  • Avoid using complete sentences
  • Be consistent with lists or bullet items; start each with the same part of speech (e.g., all verbs or all nouns).
    • For verbs, use same tense and same voice (active or passive)
    • For nouns, use same case and same number (singular or plural)
  • Use large type (font size)
  • Limit typefaces and type sizes to 1 or 2 throughout your presentation
  • Use simple typefaces (Arial, Verdana)
  • Type size should reflect importance of ideas (main points should be larger than supporting ideas)
  • Never use of ALL CAPS (use bold or italicized instead)
  • Never underline (use bold or italicized instead)
  • Avoid hyphenating words onto two lines

  • Use an introduction, body and summary format
  • Limit each slide to one main idea
  • Use bullets and numbers to organize ideas
  • Leave a 1" - 1.5" margin on the document for necessary white space
  • Prepare handouts for the audience prior to the presentation
Color and Graphics

  • Use color sparingly; limit to 2 colors on contrasting backgrounds
  • Use color for emphasis (e.g., yellow on blue)
  • Black, green and blue works best on light background
  • Avoid using red (it bleeds and is hard to read)
  • Avoid low contrast colors (e.g., green on blue or orange on yellow)
  • Avoid displaying complex or dense diagrams
  • Use graphics and pictures to compliment your presentation (use minimal clipart)
  • Be consistent on the placement graphics from slide to slide