The Art of (Un)formatting a PowerPoint Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

It takes a tremendous amount of work to properly format a PowerPoint presentation, but in many cases it can take twice as long to (un)format one. If you find yourself adhering to any of the rules below, you are probably well on your way to mastering The Art of (Un)formatting a PowerPoint Presentation.


  1. Never refer to the slide master.The slide master informs the look and feel of the presentation. It dictates text box and header placement, bullet style, line spacing, and defines the color palette. There is absolutely no need to go there for styling cues, or to ensure consistency in your document.
  2. Refrain from placing logos, background art, or disclaimers into your slide master.
    Instead of placing them in the slide master where they belong, copy and paste all background art, logos, and disclaimers into every slide of your presentation. If done properly, when the logo or text needs to be updated, the user will have to make those changes to every single slide in your presentation.
  3. Do not use the “Bold Lead” layout built into most of our templates.
    It takes significantly longer to manually remove a bullet, select the line of text, and hit the
    “bold” button on the toolbar than it does to go into your layout and hit the “Bold Lead” template. Don’t forget to hit the spacebar 8-12 times to inaccurately match the indent present on the second line of text.
  4. Avoid using the built-in table feature.
    PowerPoint allows users to intuitively build tables by defining the number of rows and columns, and then automatically generating a stylized table based on your design template. Stay clear! Instead, create multiple text boxes, visually line them up as best you can to create a grid of boxes, and type in your content into each of them. To spruce it up, be sure to add your own divider lines, vertically and horizontally, to complete your manually created table.
  5. Always place a text box on top of a PowerPoint shape.
    Although users can create colored PowerPoint shapes and type their text directly into them, it makes more sense to place a text box over that shape and group the two items. The text box and shape are rarely aligned correctly, and the text never quite fits, but this approach is guaranteed to take longer and will make future edits more difficult.
  6. Finally, keep thinking of your presentation as a manuscript.
    PowerPoint is a presentation tool, not a word processing tool. It was designed to help presenters create visuals that support their talking points. Rather than keeping your slides simple and concise, cram them with as much information as possible. Ensure that your audience is completely ignoring what you are saying because they are reading the projected slide. Remember to add plenty of confusing charts that, while accurate, are so dense that the point you are trying to make is lost. And finally, don’t read 6 Tips for Outstanding Presentation Design, because this article might inspire you to think about your presentations a little differently.

While it may have its flaws, PowerPoint is a very powerful tool specifically created to help users
create presentations efficiently.

Do you harness its potential, or are you a Master in the Art of (Un)formatting?

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