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Jennifer Valley is an Instructional Designer with five years of experience. She enjoys blogging, talking on social media, and researching.

PowerPoint got an unfair reputation a few years back. It seemed like everyone was trying to blame PowerPoint for poorly created eLearning material. But the real fact of the matter was the people using the tool didn’t understand some basic strategies. One of the most common offenses was the misuse of graphics. When graphics are used correctly, they’re a powerful tool for conveying a message, because they are both visually appealing and can provide context to a message quicker then text. To get you better prepared for creating content in PowerPoint, here’s eight things you must never do with graphics in PowerPoint.

1. Honey I Shrunk the Picture

An image shouldn’t be so small the viewer in the back row or sitting farther way from their computer should have to squint to see. On the opposite side of the spectrum, an image shouldn’t be so large that it’s overly pixelated, overlapping other items on the page, or unrecognizable. As a general rule of thumb, keep the text size and image even with white space to provide an even framing.



Too small!


Too big!



Text width and image are even.

2. Every Color of the Rainbow, Please

Adjusting an image’s color in PowerPoint is easy and provides an instant punch of cohesiveness and interest. But colorizing just for the sake of colorizing can be counteractive. Stick with one color or color family to show consistency.



Neon + flat + gray scale + outline = NO!



Same color family.

3. Seal the Borders

Nothing throws a learner off like a free-floating image. It looks like you just pasted it onto the page without consideration. To bring order and a sense of unity, add borders to images especially anything with a transparent background.



Floating and contrasting on top of the background.



Quick border to pull it all together.

4. Unequal is Equal

The rule of thirds isn’t just a guideline; it’s a way of life for me! If you’re not already familiar with the concept it’s when you split an image up into nine equal parts. It helps even out your picture and ensures you’re providing a balanced image. As a bonus you’ll also be able to easily see the “Power Points,” which is where the lines converge. Align your images using these guidelines to get the most impact out of your images. Avoid smooshing things against the edges, as it’s considered visually unpleasing.



Too close to the edge and unevenly spaced.



Images placed at Power Points and evenly spaced.

5. Off with Their Heads!

Pictures of people provide the most power! We’re social creatures who crave human contact and interaction. It’s why we group up into cities and fawn over celebrities. When you insert a picture of a person we automatically gravitate to the face. Because of our familiarity with the human physique, there are rules that should be followed. You should always avoid cropping off the middle of someone’s eyes, ears, arms, hands, thighs, knees and feet. The human eye automatically sees the picture as unnatural and discredits its message.



Eyes are sliced.




6. Why Can’t I Use an “Insert Random Topic” Photo?

While we all love your dog, the fact of the matter is that not all pictures belong in the workplace. While using a dog image is perfectly acceptable for a course on pet training or nutrition, inserting it into a compliance course (or Hipster Training) won’t get you the same effect. For this reason, you should keep your graphic and context on the same page (literally and figuratively).



Must. Resist. Urge! (Her name is Daisy.)

7. As If! I Don’t Need Matching Graphic Types

Combining graphics with pictures isn’t the worst thing you can do (see #6), but it does take away from the cohesiveness of a project. As a good rule of thumb, try to stick with one image type and style if possible.



These don’t look like they go together.



Perfect match.

8. I Like to Move It, Move It!

Transitions are a great effect in PowerPoint. They can create interest on an otherwise static page, but add too many and your page will be jumping all over the place. Decide on two or three animations to use within your project and use only one per page.



Resources used:

Hipster Ipsum

Free PowerPoint Template

Design Freebies and Portfolio – Pablo Stanley

Unsplash – Free High-Resolution Photos

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