Do you need to worry about font? Yes, you do
Welcome back to PowerPoint Training Online, thank you for joining us. In this week’s article I want to talk about font. I see a lot of people worry about font in their presentations, they feel they are not doing it right. And then there are some that don’t even care about it. They just stick with the default all the time.
If you have read any previous articles that have been published on the PowerPoint Training Online blog or watched any of the PowerPoint Tutorial videos, then you will have heard me say countless times that I do not like text on my screen. I prefer to use images and graphics to help convey my message to my audience.
I will always stand by that. Graphics, images and videos are the most effective way of conveying a message in modern times. But that does not mean text must take a back seat. There will always be times when text is essential to be used. Sometimes you cannot find an image or graphic that will say what you want to say. Not only that but you will use text in title slides, headers and footers.
What is font?
Font is what you see when you look at words. These words can be displayed on billboards, on TV commercials, on blogs like this or even on the messages you send to your family and friends. Font is a set of text characters that have been carefully designed. A designer will take into consideration things such as size, height and width amongst other weird things like kerning and tracking.
Why worry about font?
It is all about how it looks. When you create any form of work in PowerPoint, you should be worried about it looks. How it all fits together. You use colours that complement your message. Use images that complement the colours you choose. Animations and transitions that complement not confuse.
When you do this, you end up with a presentation that looks good to the eye, is easy to follow and even easier to learn from. It will help make it easier for your audience to remember you and your message. In a good way.
That is why you should worry about font.
What to worry about with fonts
Unless you are creating a font from scratch, something I would not recommend, there is not really a lot to worry about. The hard work has already been undertaken.
So, why worry about font. Well here are a few reasons for you.
Make sure you are using a colour that matches the theme/template that you have chosen. Black is the standard colour and will suit most scenarios, but it is not always perfect. Find out what colours work with other colours. I use Adobe Color CC to do my colour matching. It is a great tool that allows you to pick a colour and it will then find you complimentary colours that suit different categories.
Size and weight
Size and weight all depends on where the text is and how important the words are. The header text will always be a larger size then the body text. It goes without saying that something which is bigger will be more easily spotted then something which is smaller. Many websites, blogs and online words are set to a size of 18 pixels. This has been proven to be easier to read and pay attention to.
But you need to make sure that your audience can see what is on the screen. No matter where they are in the audience. The content should be as easy for somebody sitting in the back to read as somebody in the front. If you have a large audience, you may need to sacrifice more words for larger words. If you are using PowerPoint to create something which people will read closely then you can use a smaller font.
Weight is the thickness of the font. When you press the B icon or press CTRL + B, you will make your text appear bigger. You and making it bold. This is what weight is. Use bold wisely. You do not want to have your entire text bold. Only use bold if you need to make a header slightly larger without increasing the font size or if you want to place emphasis on something.
Like I have done with this sentence only put bold on the word you feel is the most important.
When using text, it is extremely important to put it in a place that works. Like using images and graphics, you are not going to just put it anywhere. Try and make sure that it has space around it. It is not too close to the edge of the slide and if it does not fit then you have too much text or the font size is too big.
If you are using images with text, make sure that there is a clear divide between both. Text on an image does look nice but if there is text with in the image make sure they do not cross each other as it can become very confusing.
You also want to make sure that there is a clear divide between header, body and footer text. Most of the time header text will appear at the top of the page but it is not rare to see t on the side of the page. At this point you need to make sure that the font size is quite different to the body and the footer. It will help it to stand out.
Character spacing or tracking in the font world, is one of those things that people never knew you needed to worry about. In its simplest form it is the space that is between each character. On the other end of the scale it is one of designer’s secret weapons for creating awesome looking content.
When you are using text in your presentation you want make sure that it is as easy to read as possible for the audience. Believe it or not, the little spaces between each letter can help with that. Having a larger space between the letters will make it easier for people to interpret what each letter is, but if you make it too big then it will make the words more difficult to read. It is a good rule to have headings and larger text have a slightly smaller gap as the letters are generally bigger anyway.
Big letters or small letters. That is all case boils down to. There are a couple of ways of changing the case. You could go for all capitals, you can capitalise the beginning of each word or you can go with sentence case, which is having a capital at the start of every sentence. In my opinion it is never acceptable to have all upper-case letters in the body text. Sentence case is fine. Unless you are only using one or two words. Headers can have either or. If it is a long-titled header then try to keep it to sentence case but if it is only a word or two, it can look appealing to the eye if it is all in capitals.
Remember, it is all about where you want the emphasis to be on the slide.
Like character spacing but this setting worries about the space in between the lines. Line spacing is another setting that can make a whole world of difference. It is all about making the content as easy to read as possible. Having more whitespace in between the lines will increase readability but you must be careful that you do not go too far. You can quickly eat up space on the page using line spacing.
This is a big worry about font for people. Which style do I choose.
There are many font types to choose from in PowerPoint. You can choose from serif, sans serif and handwritten. There are even the funny ones that are completely ineligible. It is easy to know which type of font you should be using once you understand how the basics work.
There are 3 major font types.
- Serif – small lines are attached to the beginning and end of each letter making it easier to read
- Sans Serif – there are no lines attached at either end of the letter
- Handwritten – this looks like it has been handwritten
Each font is best suited to a different need. For instance, as headers are key but there are not that many characters, a sans serif font will work best. But in the body, there are multiple characters, so using a serif font will make it easier to read the text.
Handwritten fonts should be used very wisely. Often these look pretty but can be difficult to read. As they can be difficult to read it is best leaving these to texts that are going to be larger in size then others. Or using them in images.v But don’t place too much emphasis on using these. Or it will make you worry about font.
How to work with font in PowerPoint
PowerPoint has evolved so much over the years that a lot of what we have talked about above is all looked after for you. Microsoft are constantly doing research on the latest trends in the font and human mind worlds. When there are new updates to PowerPoint, they will make slight changes that you may never notice. Font size has become standard at 18. This is one of the little things they have done to stop you worry about font.
But what if you want to change some of these settings.
The majority of font customisation can be done from the ribbon, under the Home tab. You can see from the image below it is all laid out nice and tidy under the font section.
Colour – The setting on the left allows you to control the highlighted colour of the text while the one on the right allows you to set the colour of the text.
Style and size – The first option allows you to select the font style. The next section allows you to change the size of your text. While the small and large A’s allow you to increase, decrease the text size one notch at a time.
Weight – From here you can make text bold, italic or underlined. You can also set a shadow in the text and put a strike through the selected text.
Character spacing – This allows you to set the amount of space between a character. You can select from very loose to very tight. Or use the more options to set custom spacing.
Font case – Select how you want to case of the text to be.
Options include sentence case, lowercase, uppercase, toggle case and capitalise each word.
Align text – Set where the text sits within the text box. Options include top, middle and bottom.
Line spacing – Set the space height between each line.
Text direction – Allows you to set the direction which you would like the text to flow. Choose from left to right, top to bottom or set a custom direction.
Thank you for getting this far. It has been a long read today, thank you for getting this far.
You may not have realised exactly how much effort goes into font or that you have to worry about font. Especially since most word programs look after a lot of it automatically. But if you want to truly create the best presentation that people will learn from then you need to pay attention to the small details. That is your job as a creator.
Until next time,