PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

Beyond a Presentation: Designing Beautiful Documents in PowerPoint with Tom Howell

Did you know you can design incredible print documents easily with PowerPoint?

Synapsis Creative, a design agency specializing in PowerPoint, was one of our wonderful sponsors for our debut edition of our Present to Succeed conference. And Tom Howell, founder and director of Synapsis Creative, was one of the speakers.

In his session, he revealed to us how his agency pushes the boundaries of everything creative with PowerPoint. Believe it or not, they do everything in PowerPoint, and they work with 25% of the world’s top 60 brands.

As a PowerPoint expert, he walked us through the basics of the vast array of design options and conveniences accessible through the software. PowerPoint is not only for presentations anymore, and it can save you time, resources, and sanity. You can format to any document type or size in PowerPoint easily. Can you imagine?

So, how do you do it?

Grids, Guides, Structure, and Size

Grids and Guides

Grids and guides are key tools for establishing structure in design. They have been used for centuries by Renaissance painters, architects, cartographers, typographers, printers, and others. And they apply to PowerPoint as well, as they are a fundamental design concept. Therefore, plan your margins and guides to create structure and ensure all content fits the page.

Moreover, grids are helpful for incorporating the golden ratio. Your eyes are drawn to certain things that use golden ratios. You can see it on websites and in print. It works by directing our attention to some areas on a page.

First, ask yourself these questions: What is the end product? What am I making? An A4 magazine? Landscape book? Poster? Trifold Brochure? DL Flyer? There are many different types of print documents, and you have to determine what you want first.

Then, what size are you printing? There are some critical areas: the dimensions, bleed, and crop marks, then the paper stock, and the page count. Bleed usually is 5-10mm or more. Paper stock is going to affect how you are going to layout your document. For example, if you use thick paper, you will need higher margins.

Tip: BrightCarbon has a free tool called BrightSlide that creates these columns and grids for you with a few clicks.

Structure and Size

You can create incredible print documents in PowerPoint but never use the default sizes. For instance, for an A4 portrait page use: Width 21cm, Height 29,7cm. Switch the sides for landscape A4.

A short guide for the margins:

Overly tight margins say that you are busy.

Overly wide margins say that you are a little bit artistic and calm. They convey a free feeling and open thinking.

balanced margin communicates that it is informative and is easy to read.

An unbalanced margin, such as when the outer margin lines are broader than the inside margins, pulls the material closer and creates a sense of intimacy.

Imagery, Fonts & Colors

Images and Colors

Your photos should convey a story while being true to your subject matter and personality. For example, do not put someone in an office next to a swimming pool, a tree, and a donkey unless you convey a narrative with them. Choose images that tell a consistent tale.

Tip: If you want your image to stand out but are not sure you are staying on brand, don’t hesitate to ask your marketing team for the guidelines.

“Don’t just add images to look good – push the boundaries of your brand,” Tom says, “I think that just gently pushing the boundaries of your brand is where brilliant work can come.”

There is a subliminal power in color, and you need to get it right. For instance, an analogous color scheme helps create harmony. For that scheme, you can choose 3-5 colors that sit side-by-side on the color wheel.

Fonts

Choose no more than two or three typefaces for a document. You need to have a separate font for headings and the body copy. Although, limit elaborate and cursive fonts to headers because the body copy should be easy to read. You may use an additional font for subheadings or pull-out quotations optionally.

Serif fonts are best for print body text since they make reading lengthier paragraphs easier. For your print headlines, you can choose sans serif fonts. A best practice is to pick typefaces from the same family, such as Arial + Arial Black + Arial Rounded + Arial Light.

Tip: Georgia, Baskerville, and Garamond are the most suitable serif typefaces for printing. Century Gothic, Verdana, Gotham, and Helvetica are the best sans serif fonts for printing body text. They are all in PowerPoint. 

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is the arranging of elements by their importance. What is critical, and what is secondary? You can achieve the hierarchy in many ways, such as reading direction, size, spacing, contrast, alignment, repetition, closeness, white space, texture, and style.

For example, the building elements of constructing a visual hierarchy in text are cover/divider title, a page title, subheading, secondary subheading, body copy, emphasis in body copy, and a footnote.

Before you begin the document, you can write down a list of the ones you will have and decide how you want them to look. There is a significant difference between a document with and without a hierarchy.

Composition and Page Layout

Composition is the arrangement of visual elements that make up the final design. It is referred to as page layout in print design.

So far, you got to play, and then here you quit playing with your rules as you have laid the foundation so far! Great job!

Tip: How do you package a file for printing? First, consult with a printer. Don’t tell the printer you designed it on PowerPoint. And what if the pictures are large? If you are going to print them, don’t downscale them. Just accept them like that.

Let's summarize

In conclusion, the PowerPoint virtuoso Tom Howell guided us skillfully through the fundamentals of PowerPoint’s enormous array of print and document design possibilities. How do you create a print design in PowerPoint? Now you know.

Remember to keep your content consistent with the message you want to communicate. Let us know in the comments what your favorite learning was!

Extra tip: What if your images are big? Do not downscale. If you are printing the quality of your images matters more than the MB of the document.

Reading is great, but why not see the whole session by yourself? Get the Design Track Recordings for the discounted price of €39 or all the 30+ sessions for just €79!

VISIT SHOP

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!