How to Use Typography and Visuals More Effectively in Presentations

By Scott Schwertly

When it comes to typography in presentations, there’s a wealth of power in playing up contrasts. Notice in this Slideshare example below how our designer used two different types throughout the deck: A plain san serif type, and a unique, bubble-like type.

They contrast each other nicely, while remaining alike enough that they don’t look strange together. Also, notice how the designer used varied text sizes, and varied weights (thin versus thick), on each slide so as to keep the text-heavy slides visually interesting.

Strive for sensible contrast when working with typography.


The SlideShare example has a relatively text-heavy deck, so our designer used very simple visuals to make the text the most prominent element on the page. Always make one element (text or visuals) more prominent than the other.

If you’re working with a visual-heavy deck, for example, you’ll want to keep the amount of text on the slide minimal. It’s also helpful to use natural word associations to come up with appropriate visuals (i.e. time = clock, fly = plane, quotes = speech bubbles, Michael Jordan = basketball) for your content.

Our designer used illustrations to convey the deck’s simple visuals. He created them in Adobe Illustrator using shapes and sometimes, icons.

Look at Slide 2 for an example of using overlapping shapes to create depth (i.e. the simple tree shape overlapped again and again to create the impression of a forest). Also, play with the opacity of your visuals to make an element stand out more or less than another element.

Notice how on many of these slides, the designer dropped the opacity of the illustrations to make it seem like they live in the background, which further draws our attention to the text on the slide.

About the Author:

Scott Schwertly is the CEO and founder of Ethos 3, a leading presentation design and training company. From big names like Guy Kawasaki to big companies like Google, Pepsico, and NBC Universal, Ethos 3 has been responsible for bringing the message home. For more information about the company’s services, visit

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