• Avoid patterned slide backgrounds as these can reduce slide readability.
  • Slide backgrounds should be white and the font black.  Avoid dark backgrounds.  Black or dark text on a white/light background works well in a lighted room. Since SOM presentations will be used in a lighted room and students will be studying and printing the slide materials, light slide backgrounds with dark text are preferred over light-colored font on dark backgrounds.  
  • Font color should contrast with the slide background (e.g., use black font on a white background).
  • Be consistent with font colors and ensure font is readable with respect to color choice.
  • Avoid using too many font colors on a slide that a slide appears too busy, is distracting, or difficult to read. Keep font color simple.
  • Avoid predominantly red or green font on slides, where possible, for those with red/green color-blindness.


  • Be consistent with font types between slides and presentations and ensure font type selected is readable.
  • Sans serif fonts should be used in PowerPoint presentations because they have a uniform line thickness and no tail (serif) and are easier to read when projected.  Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana are commonly used sans serif fonts in PowerPoint presentations. 
  • Avoid serif fonts (such as Times New Roman, Cambria, Georgia, Bookman, Century, Garamond, and Palatino, to name only a few). Serif fonts are best used in print and in reading blocks of text, not in PowerPoint presentations.  They may be difficult to read online or when projected.
  • Avoid cursive/script fonts (Comic Sans, Consolas, Brush Script, to name only a few). They may be difficult to read online or when projected.
  • Avoid Courier New as it is a faint font that may be difficult to project and read.
  • Avoid special fonts (such as Gill Sans MS) or other non-standard fonts as they may not project well, may be difficult to read in a presentation, or may not be installed on other workstations. If you use non-standard fonts, it is possible that your slides may appear differently on a computer that does not have that font installed or if the font is not embedded in your presentation.
  • One font type is preferable in the body of a slide, where possible. For example, you may use Arial font only in a presentation and then bold it for heading titles but do not bold it in the body of the slide.
  • Avoid using more than two fonts in a given presentation. Arial Black and Arial are two complementary san serif fonts that work well together in a presentation. Alternatively, you can use Arial font alone and bold or not bold, as specified above.


  • Use predominantly lowercase letters (sentence case). Avoid all capital letters, when possible, since this is difficult to read.
  • Limit use of bold, underline, and italics on a slide. 
  • Consider reducing text instead of using bold or underline frequently. Bold text does not always appear bold when projected. Italicized items are difficult to read. Underlining should be limited because underlining is used for hyperlinks primarily and not necessarily indicates importance.
  • You should use appropriately sized font for students to be able to read material in the session room (lecture room, small group rooms, etc.). Use 28 point font or higher. 24-point font may be acceptable but may be difficult to see in a large classroom. No less than 18-point font should be used, unless a reference.
  • Limit the amount of text on a slide so slides are not text-heavy.


  • Be sure that presentation content ties back to the session outline and session objectives and that you include relevant take-home points in the session summary at the end of the presentation.
  • Limit the text on a given slide so there is an appropriate amount of white space and information is readable, clear, and concise. White space is good. Avoid text running off the slide.
  • Do not make slides text-heavy. Employ visual elements in presentations, as appropriate and where necessary.
  • List main points as bullets and expand on points verbally, where able.
  • Do not write paragraphs on a slide.
  • Try to reduce the tendency in a session to read word-for-word from your slides.
  • Text on a slide should be used to highlight ideas or concepts, not narrate them.
  • Keep bulleted items to 3-6 bullets per slide. Rule of Six: maximum of 6 words per line and a maximum of 6 lines per slide.
  • Use the slide notes section of the PowerPoint presentation to elaborate further on content of a slide, where applicable, for information (not presentation) purposes. Be sure not to include test questions in the notes section since the entire PowerPoint presentation is available to students, including the notes section.
  • Give appropriate credit in your slides for content that is not your own and that content in presentations is being used for educational purposes.
  • Use the slide sorter mode in PowerPoint to see a layout of all the slides in your presentation at once. This will allow you to view and adjust the flow of content as well as help identify slides that are too text heavy.


  • ARS should be content-relevant.  See the ARS Guidelines page for general guidelines, faculty ARS guides, and installation instructions.


  • Session presenters should aim to make slides clear and concise and employ appropriate graphics, images, or other visual elements so that slides are not too text-heavy.
  • Images should be used that illustrate relevant content, for visual appeal in the presentation, and to engage the audience.
  • If you are showing images in your presentation, be sure to not flip through images. Rather, give the audience time to see the image (and include that consideration in the time allotted for your session), particularly if there is something pertinent on the image relevant to the discussion or if the image is being used for illustrative purposes or as an example.
  • Image quality is important. Avoid poor quality images or scans. "Garbage in, garbage out."
  • If you insert an image into a presentation, use the Insert | Picture function in PowerPoint rather than copying the image from your computer.
  • When possible, insert compressed images (.jpg for images with or without text; .gif for black-and-white outlined figures with text) rather than the original image in an uncompressed format (such as .tiff). Compressed images have a smaller file size, and as such, contribute less to the presentation file size than an uncompressed image.
  • Include text or arrows on images to help convey points of reference or other information to the audience. You can either include the text and arrows on the image (with or without animation) OR, alternatively, you can have an unlabeled slide followed by a labeled slide (of the same image) so that your audience sees the unlabeled and then the labeled image.
  • When resizing images in a presentation (e.g., making an image on a presentation slide larger to fill the slide), be sure to pull from opposite diagonal corners on the image to fill the slide, as needed. This will prevent the image from being distorted, which is particularly important for some gross or histologic images. Use your best judgment here, but this opposite diagonals method will help to reduce image distortion.
  • Do not overload your presentation with extraneous graphics or visual elements. Use predominantly images or other visual elements that are pertinent to the presentation topic. You may also selectively use images or other visual elements to engage the audience during a presentation.
  • Refer to the Lister Hill Library ( online textbooks resource for images and content that may be used for educational purposes to supplement presentations. Be sure to provide appropriate credit and acknowledgments.


  • Be simple, consistent, clear, and use material (animations, video clips, etc.) to supplement your presentation to make it interesting and relevant.
  • Animations may be helpful in presentations but are not required.
  • Animations and/or sounds should be used selectively and not overload or distract from the presentation.
  • Do not have sound effects on every slide of your presentation and avoid sounds that are distracting or take away from the presentation.
  • Any animations or sounds used in the presentations should benefit the presentation, not take away from it, and should not be distracting to the audience.
  • If you use animations, video clips, ARS, or other interactive elements in your presentations, it is important that these are checked in the lecture room before your presentation to test those items prior to the scheduled session for functionality of the presentation in the classroom setting. Please provide your session materials to your course director as soon as possible before your session occurs so that materials may be relayed to the Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) office no less than 72 business hours before your scheduled session for testing in the lecture room and uploading to the student website.


References and Acknowledgements: