Design Principles for SlideShare Content

Article author
Autumn E.
  • Updated

Learn more about different ways you can enhance the design of your SlideShare content.

Design Fundamentals

Learn more about the fundamentals of good design:

  • Balance - Use symmetry and asymmetry to emphasize certain elements.
  • Emphasis - Make the most important element of your presentation stand out.
  • Unity - Create a consistent visual theme throughout your slides.
  • Movement - Use elements like curved lines to encourage the eye to move from one point to the next.

Leveraging these principles of design will keep your audience visually engaged.

Rule of Thirds

Another simple design technique is the Rule of Thirds. This involves splitting your slide into three equal sections, both horizontally and vertically, and positioning elements within that grid to optimize design.

Horizontal Rule of Thirds:

  • Draw your subjects' eyes in the upper third or lower third.
  • Aim to place your object in the left, right, top, or bottom (not center).

Vertical Rule of Thirds:

  • Always set objects to the left or right to allow for white space.

Photos and Images

Here are a few tips for using pictures:

  • Choose text-friendly photos - You'll likely be overlaying text on the photo, so choose pictures where there is room for you to write.
  • Be authentic - Use pictures that people can relate to, or even evoke emotion. People aren't as likely to share posed, unnatural photos.
  • Deeper meaning - Make sure your photos help support the theme of your presentation and the topics it comprises. For example, if you're giving a presentation on cloud computing, consider using photos of clouds to amplify your point.
  • Add a photo credit - It's online etiquette to credit your photo sources in your content. Here's the Creative Commons' guide for crediting images.


You can use typography to emphasize a word or statement, and support a certain style or sentiment that runs throughout your content. For instance, you can bold or italicize words, or use extra-large or tiny typeface, to help drive home a point. There are hundreds of fonts out there that can be used to add style to your content. Once you've chosen what style works for you, follow these tips:

  • Go Big - Make sure to use a font size that's large enough for viewers to easily read your typeface both on desktop and mobile.
  • Pick Two Fonts - In general, using two fonts will keep your content looking interesting and clean -- and help you carry-out a theme -- without feeling too jumbled or disjointed.
  • Match Your Brand - If your company has certain fonts they use, stick to those for brand consistency.


Colors have the ability to trigger emotions, so it's important to choose colors that suit your voice and topic. These are just a few adjectives associated with each color:

  • Red: love and passion
  • Orange: enthusiasm and happiness
  • Yellow: joy and hope
  • Green: growth and stability
  • Blue: responsibility and strength
  • Purple: ambition and royalty
  • White: goodness and purity
  • Black: elegance and power

To keep a clean look, you generally don't want to use more than three to four colors per presentation. Beware of these common color pitfalls:

  • The Vibrating Color Headache - If you want to use bright colors, make sure to use a neutral background to avoid giving your audience a jarring visual experience.
  • Low Contrast Colors - While they may look good in print, they don't look so great online. Choose high contrast colors so your content will stand out on the screen.
  • Black & White - If you need a more professional “black and white” feel, add a subtle gradient to increase the depth of the slide.

Combining Text with Images

Once you select your images and typography, the trick is combining them so that they complement each other and become a cohesive piece that pops:

  • Add a layer - Overlay a layer on top of the image and adjust the transparency to allow the text to be more readable on the photo.
  • Add Perspective - Adjust the text so it looks like it's being viewed from the angle of the camera.

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