It’s no secret that at BrightCarbon we generally recommend keeping text on slides to a minimum. The main reason you need to avoid lots of text in presentations is because it’s virtually impossible to read and listen to someone speaking at the same time. In a presentation, you want to allow the audience to listen to the presenter while looking at an appropriate visual or diagram with minimal words, so that it all comes together seamlessly. Whereas, with documents like reports – while you can create them in PowerPoint – they aren’t presentations; there won’t be anyone talking over them. So you can (and possibly should) have a lot more text.

So, when you are using text in a presentation or document, how do you decide what size it should be? We’ve found there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how big or small text on slides should be. Each presentation has its own unique requirements – it all depends on what you’re using the slides for, what you’re hoping to achieve with them, and how your audience will be viewing them. Accessibility considerations also come into play, as well as readability across different typefaces and devices.

Determining appropriate text size

One way to decide on the right size for your text is to consider the height of each line of text in proportion to the total height of the slide. For example, in a sales or training presentation, the height of the title (per line) should take up approximately 4% of the slide’s total height; headers around 3%; and copy text around 2%.

This principle can be applied to text appearing in other types of presentation, too. For example, in a keynote presentation, the height of the text should take up around 6.5% of the slide’s total height. And in a document or report, aim for the height of the title text to take up around 4% of the slide’s total height; headers around 3%; and copy text around 1.5%.

When deciding on the right font size for a face-to-face presentation, it’s also worth considering how close audience members should be seated to the screen in order to be able to read the text easily. Check out presentation expert Dave Paradi’s table on comfortable viewing distances for text in presentation visuals[1] for more on this.

Our text size recommendations

We called upon our team of designers to determine what size they would make the text in a set of example slides. To create the slides, we used PowerPoint’s default widescreen slide size (19.05cm x 33.86cm, or 7.5”13.33”), and Arial – one of the most commonly used fonts.

The examples covered three different use-cases where text is sometimes used:

  1. A sales or training presentation. Small amounts of text can be used to point out key features and emphasise value and benefits.
  2. A keynote presentation. You want the audience to focus on the presenter during a keynote presentation, so the amount of text on each slide should be kept to a minimum. This means any text you do use can be much larger.
  3. A document or report. Text can generally be slightly smaller in stand-alone, static documents like reports, as readers will jump around the page to find the information they’re looking for.

Based on our team’s responses, we’d make the following recommendations:

Use-case 1: Presentation font size for a sales or training presentation

Text type:No smaller than:Aim for:
Titles20pt28pt or larger
Headers16pt20pt or larger
Copy12pt16pt or larger
Callout labels12pt18pt or larger

 

Top tip: As a general rule, aim to keep the number of different font sizes you use across your presentation to a minimum – ideally, no more than three different sizes per slide. And try to use font sizes consistently. For example, if you’ve used 20pt for headers on one slide, make sure headers on other slides are the same size.

Use-case 2: Presentation font size for a keynote presentation

Text type:No smaller than:Aim for:
Body text28pt48pt or larger

 

Top tip: If you’re also using text labels or callouts in a keynote presentation, then make sure the font is slightly smaller than the rest of your text – ideally no smaller than 28pt.

Use-case 3: Font size for a document or report

Text type:No smaller than:Aim for:
Titles20pt28pt or larger
Headers16pt18pt or larger
Copy10pt14pt or larger

 

Top tip: It’s also worth using visual hierarchies to help readers navigate documents like these – check out our blog post for tips on how to do this.

Summary

Hopefully, our recommendations help you to decide what size text on your slides should be. Remember, every presentation is different and will have its own individual requirements – for guidance on your particular use-case, get in touch and we’ll be happy to look over your slides.

 

[1] PARADI, D. 2008. Comfortable Viewing Distance for Text on Presentation Visuals [online]. Available from: https://thinkoutsidetheslide.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ViewingDistanceTable16x9.pdf [Accessed 14 November 2022].

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Katy Golder

Senior consultant

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  1. Image of Marina Helmy Guirguis Ibrahim Marina Helmy Guirguis Ibrahim says:

    thank you so much that was helpful

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