Some Data on the Current Use of PowerPoint – Font Sizes

This post is an excerpt from „Visu­al Logor­r­hea – On the Pre­v­a­lence of Sli­de­u­m­ents”. In order to get an impres­si­on of the cur­rent use of Power­Point for pre­sen­ta­ti­on design, 1.500 pre­sen­ta­ti­ons found on the inter­net have been ana­ly­zed. Read the full story here. 

Font Sizes

The font size wit­hin a shape con­tai­ning text can vary, con­se­quent­ly, font sizes have been ana­ly­zed by „run” (which is a con­ti­nuous sequence of text of the same for­mat­ting as regards font type, size and empha­sis). The fre­quen­cy is shown based on both num­ber of occur­ren­ces and the actu­al count of cha­rac­ters (not inclu­ding white­space).

Some Data on the Current Use of PowerPoint - Font Size by Occurrence

The font size dis­tri­bu­ti­on prac­tical­ly fol­lows the defaults of Micro­soft Power­Point, espe­ci­al­ly the defaults for hier­archi­cal bul­let lists (for Power­Point 2013: 44 pt. for the slide title, 28, 24, 20 and 18 pt. for the text). This leads to the assump­ti­on that at least in bul­le­ted lists, there is very litt­le custom design work being done.

Sample Slide - PowerPoint Default Font SizesRecent ver­si­ons of Power­Point auto­ma­ti­cal­ly adjust the font size in a shape as nee­ded in order to fit any amount of text into the shape. For examp­le (as of Power­Point 2013), the font size of the slide title is redu­ced to 40 pt. when nee­ded and the font size of bul­let lists is decrea­sed in steps down to 5 pt. In addi­ti­on, when decrea­sing the font size manu­al­ly, Power­Point does this in cer­tain steps (44, 40, 36, 32, 28, 24, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 11, 10.5, 10 pt. and fur­t­her down to 1 pt. [sic] in one-point steps). Thus, the only unan­ti­ci­pa­ted out­co­me of the font size spec­trum above is the very low pre­v­a­lence for 10.5 point.

Some Data on the Current Use of PowerPoint - Font Size by Number of Characters

Only about one quar­ter to one fifth of the tex­tu­al pre­sen­ta­ti­on con­tent fol­lows Guy Kawasaki’s recom­men­da­ti­on to use a mini­mum font size of thir­ty points (25.6% of all occu­ren­ces, 19.7% of all cha­rac­ters)​1. Taking into account that a con­s­i­derable amount of text writ­ten in lar­ger font sizes is con­tai­ned in slide tit­les, vir­tual­ly no actu­al pre­sen­ta­ti­on con­tent honors his advice.

Assuming that 24 pt. is the smal­lest font size read­a­ble by any­bo­dy in a lar­ger audi­ence, more than two fifth of all text is at least bare­ly  read­a­ble (if not too small to read) – an addi­tio­nal dis­trac­tion for the audi­ence, beyond the dis­trac­tion alre­ady cau­sed by far too much text.

This post is an excerpt from „Visu­al Logor­r­hea – On the Pre­v­a­lence of Sli­de­u­m­ents”. In order to get an impres­si­on of the cur­rent use of Power­Point for pre­sen­ta­ti­on design, 1.500 pre­sen­ta­ti­ons found on the inter­net have been ana­ly­zed. Read the full story here.

Foot­no­tes:

  1.  Kawa­sa­ki, Guy, „The 10/​20/​30 Rule [sic!] of Power­Point,” Decem­ber 30, 2005, http://​blog​.guy​ka​wa​sa​ki​.com/​2​0​0​5​/​1​2​/​t​h​e​_​1​0​2​0​3​0​_rule.html (acces­sed Janu­ary 1, 2014), https://​guy​ka​wa​sa​ki​.com/​t​h​e​_​1​0​2030_rule/ (acces­sed Febru­ary 20, 2017).

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