Tips for Preparing Visual Presentations

General Guidelines

  • Final presentations, in the form of a slide deck, must be uploaded to the TAPPI Speaker Management system prior to the conference (unless you’ve made other arrangements with your session chairperson).
  • Have a backup of your presentation on hand, ideally on a USB key.
  • If you’re using your own laptop, set the screen resolution for optimal clarity and ensure you test your slides on the projector prior to your session.
  • Company name may be displayed on the first slide only. Trade names may be used only once.
  • If your deck contains crucial information which can stand alone, consider providing your audience with printouts that they can refer to later.
  • All presentations must be in compliance with TAPPI’s Antitrust Policy and Commercial Guidelines. Your deck will be reviewed prior to your session. Any slides that are not compliant will not be allowed in your presentation.

Tips for Creating your Slide Deck

  • Consider using only images as slides, rather than text. It serves as visual support while not forcing people to read while you’re talking.
  • If you are using text, select a simple font that is clear and easy to read. Sans-serif is best for slides, and be sure to use a minimum 30 point type.
  • Use a maximum of 3 fonts per presentation. This includes different sizes, as well as bold or italic versions of the same font.
  • Limit each line to 6 words, and 6 lines to each slide. You want to use the key words that reinforce your ideas, not create complete sentences.
  • Limit your slides to a maximum of 2 per minute.
  • Think of your slides as visual support for your ideas – they should not introduce new ideas, or contain information that will distract your audience from your talk.
  • Use the conference branded template and keep a uniform background throughout your presentation. Consistency in terms of color, font and design is key.
  • Ensure there is good contrast between your background and your typeface and/or graphics.
  • Use simple graphics that are high in contrast. Avoid dense tables, charts, etc.

Tips for using Graphs & Charts

  • Graphs and charts should contain at least 2 different, high contrast colors. Use different colors, not shading, to denote graph data.
  • Always include a legend for charts so that your audience will have all the visual information available at a glance.
  • Select the appropriate chart for your data. Bar and pie charts are easier to read, but sometimes line charts are necessary. In those cases, ensure your lines are well contrasted and easy to follow. (Note: It may be better to use solid/dashed/dotted lines for a chart rather than different colors. Always test your charts before making a final decision.)


Paper Technology Foundation at Western Michigan University