March 1, 2016

Tips for Selecting Fonts and Text Layouts

If you’ve ever sat in on a presentation where the text was too small for you to read or the information was too crammed together, you’d know that legibility is a necessity when it comes to PowerPoint presentations. It’s crucial to find a suitable font as well as a layout that will allow you to be organized and reader-friendly. Coming up, we will explain what you should keep in mind considering typefaces and layouts as well as some tips and alternative options.

Arial vs. Calibri

Conventional Fonts

Arial still holds its ground as the standard font for most presentations. Arial is a relic of the eighties, developed in 1983 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders. This font was optimized specifically for monitor display and set as the default font for Windows. Since Office 2013, Arial has been replaced by Calibri, which has then been distributed with the new Office bundles. Today’s notion of design is that Arial is more or less outdated – many typographers criticize its unbalanced proportions and old-fashioned lines.

The Classic: Arial

The main argument in businesses regarding the choice of font is that it has to be installed on all computers, and thus Arial is the predominant option. Of course, there are no technical objections against the application of Arial as a standard font, especially if it is not only used in PowerPoint presentations but also in Word or e-mail communication. However, because it seems like 90% of all presentations use Arial, there is an increasing trend to choose other font options. Our recommendation is that you settle on a font that fits your corporate design. Many firms have personalized CI typefaces included in their corporate design and use these fonts in print and marketing materials and sometimes also on their website.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Arial

The font has a massive and sturdy appearance which inevitably increases its readability. Yet, on crowded slides that have bullet points and approximately 400 words per page, these PowerPoint slides easily appear overloaded. Due to its dark grey-scale value, the font could be mistaken as bold which may look bulky and glutted. There are several different associations with Arial. Some feel that the shape of the characters are locked and, therefore, unaesthetic and unfashionable, while others see this exact and unemotional style as an expression of sobriety.

The Alternatives: Calibri and Calibri Light

We at PresentationLoad have been using Calibri and Calibri Light in our templates for quite some time. Both of these fonts have been installed in Office since version 2013.

If a font is available in several styles, you have more design options. Mainly, Calibri Light looks lighter and more modern, i.e. the lines are more delicate which accommodates the latest design trends. Along with normal Calibri, which you can also set in bold, you have three different possibilities for designing your text. Try it for yourself and see what difference Arial vs. Calibri Light will make. You might just appreciate the change.

Incorporate Your Own Fonts

In PowerPoint, you also have the option of integrating custom-made fonts in the files.


  • This is practical if you have a specialized corporate identity font which you can utilize consistently in your company’s PowerPoint presentations. However, note that this is not always possible or permitted for legal reasons since you aren’t purchasing the font itself, but merely the license to use it. For further information, contact the font provider. Often you’ll find answers about licensing issues in the FAQ on their websites.
  • If you have questions about integrating fonts or about using your CI-customized font in Microsoft Office, don’t hesitate to contact us at PresentationLoad. We can help you with specific concerns or recommend specialists within our company or network.

Text Layout Without Bullet Points

Alongside various font combinations, there are also many possibilities and gimmicks for creating an attractive design with only one font and organizing your information in a pleasant way, without the use of bullet points.

Sure, everyone is familiar with bullet points, probably having used them regularly in Word. In PowerPoint, you can also apply different forms of bullet points or even create them (with symbols, shapes and icons). The “tab” key allows you to adjust intervals between points and texts, and line spacing facilitates a definite structure of your content.

Through our experience as presentation designers, we offer you two examples of what you can devise out of a simple text slide without having to become a graphic designer first.

Above, you see the classic slide with five bullets as a list in PowerPoint.The disadvantage: The spacing is the same for every line. Apart from the preceding bullet points, there is no visible structure to the content. Therefore, this depiction is far from ideal. Especially since there is a lot of unused space on the slide. (The font here is Calibri Light 24 pt.)

In the second version, indentations of 15 pt have been inserted after every paragraph. This way the spaces between the enumerations and lines are more distinct, which promotes readability and structure.


Above, you can see that there is no particular need for bullet points. If you enter spaces after every paragraph, you’ll create a precise segmentation, and the five elements will be distinguishable even without bullets.

In only two steps you can arrange your text in several columns. First, pick the feature “columns” in the text options. Then, select “more columns” and choose how many columns you need, (five in this example) as well as adjusting the spaces between the columns to 1 cm. Thanks to a little formatting, you can organize your text in multiple columns only by clicking the enter key. You might have to minimize the typeface (above is Calibri Light 18 pt.) since an arrangement in columns causes the text to run shorter and the lines and words to wrap sooner.



In combination with pictures or icons, it is easy to create fetching PowerPoint slides that transform your texts in schematics with a semblance of infographics. Everything you need to do is depart from standard enumerations and bullets as well as possibly change the direction of reading from up to down to left to right.

If you want your slides to be as appealing as these examples, we advise you to take a peek at the following templates. With those you’ll have demonstrative text layouts and fitting icons for infographics at your disposal:

Below are several ready-made layouts in column form with an attractive text design for visualizing key performance indicators.Infografiken-Zahlen

You’ll find an extensive collection of over 400 business icons with which you can edit, scale and change colors in PowerPoint. You’ll also find further ideas for infographics with icons which you can adjust and adapt quickly and easily to fit your needs.


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