Presentation Design Quick Tip #3 - A is for Alignment

In this video, you'll learn about using alignment to design better looking presentation slides. This is the third in the four part series, "Presentation Design Quick Tips Using CRAP." Previous videos have covered the design concepts of Contrast and Repetition. This video looks at how alignment can be used to give your slides a professional look and make it easy for your audience to see and understand your presentation slides' content. Please check out the video or skip down and read more on this topic.

If YouTube is unavailable in your area, please click the following link to watch or right-click to download: Presentation Design Quick Tip #3 - A is for Alignment

Video length 1:46 (Click CC for captions or read transcript below) Special thanks again to Powtoon (http://www.powtoon.com) for making this video possible.

UPDATE SEPT. 2, 2016:

Special thanks to Robin Williams, the author of the Non-Designers Design Book for inspiring this series of videos. It was her who came up with CRAP, and I'm lucky enough that she is ok with me talking about it with you.

What do you mean by alignment and why is it important?

Alignment in terms of design is making things in some sort of straight line. It's visually lining things up to create an imaginary line that people will instantly notice. Alignment is important because just like repetition, the human brain is constantly scanning for alignment.

What this means is that when something is out of alignment, it creates a slight sense of unease in the viewer… or in your case, the audience. So when something is in alignment, this is visually familiar and therefore, comfortable to look at. This helps your audience to better pay attention to what's on the slides, instead of trying to look for the alignment.

What you'll find is that pairing alignment and contrast will give your slides an instant boost in the looks department. Your slides will look purposefully designed rather than randomly thrown together.

But what about center alignment?

Every one of us has used, and probably continue to use, center alignment because it's the default setting in most presentation software like PowerPoint or Keynote. However, if you have other text or objects on your slides and they are center aligned, your audience will spend a brief moment or two to figure out the alignment. At best, it's a brief moment of thinking that your audience needs to do. At worst, it makes your slides confusing and more difficult than necessary to understand.

Try this instead

A better approach, especially for audiences that are used to reading or writing from left-to-right, is to use a left alignment. This will create an immediate sense of familiarity and helps your audience easily see or read whatever is on your slides. If you're presenting to a Japanese or Chinese audience where they are used to reading and writing from right-to-left, then try using a right alignment. However, it's pretty safe to go with left alignment in most cases.

You can use alignment with text, as in the video, and also with text and images. You can also apply a left alignment anywhere you choose by using other elements on your slides to help you create a starting point for the alignment.

Experiment

As I've mentioned in other posts, these design rules are meant to be broken. So play around with the simplest forms of alignment and then start seeing how you can apply it in more creative ways. Whatever you do, just start applying alignment to your slides and you'll notice an immediate improvement. And I'm sure others will notice it, too.

If you have any questions or comments about using alignment, please leave them below.

Thanks and talk to you again next time.

Carl

 

Transcript:

Hi I'm Carl Kwan and this is Presentation Design Quick Tip #3 - Alignment. Alignment and contrast, which I talked about in the first video in this series on presentation design, are going to be your best friends when it comes to creating professional looking presentation slides. The reason is because people naturally look for things in alignment, just like how they look for things that repeat.

When something isn't in alignment, it's less comfortable to look at than if you look at the same thing with alignment applied.

You'll notice that the typical centre alignment we've all used is actually not the best way to design your slides. Your eyes need to scan from line-to-line trying to find alignment.

A better approach, especially for audiences that are used to reading or writing from left-to-right, is to use a left alignment. This will create an immediate sense of familiarity and helps your audience easily see or read whatever is on your slides. If you're presenting to a Japanese or Chinese audience where they are used to reading and writing from right-to-left, then try using a right alignment. However, it's pretty safe to go with left alignment in most cases.

You can use alignment with text as you're seeing here and also with text and images. You can also apply a left alignment anywhere you choose by using other elements on your slides to help you create a starting point for the alignment.

And that's Presentation Design Quick Tip #3 - Alignment.

If you have any questions or comments about using alignment, please leave them below this video.

Thanks for watching and talk to you again soon.

Bye bye.