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Best Practice

Optimal Bullet/Text Spacing

The spacing between bullet and text and the levels of bulleted text deserve some thought before a text hierarchy is set in the master of your company's template. It would be good to consider the following as you set these defaults in your master slides.

Figures 1, 4, and 7 use the hanging indent in the ruler shown above Figure 1. This hanging indent is excessive: you don't need this much space between bullet and text. Sometimes a template designer will add this space as a design element, along with staggered levels of bullets (Figure 4) and spacing between the bullets (Figures 7, 8, and 9). These choices may appeal to your design sensibilities, but will they serve you well as you are adding content to your slides? Be very sure that you are not choosing form over function with the defaults you choose.

Figures 2, 5, and 8 use the hanging indent shown above Figure 2. This is a good hanging indent, and it provides the opportunity to reduce space if you need the bulleted text field to be more compact (like the hanging indent for figures 3, 6, and 9). The bullet levels are left aligned to the text of the previous level – a good choice with no unnecessary waste of space for text. The size of the fonts in the different levels vary, which is not a great technique. It's better to have the text in the different bullet levels be a consistent font size. If it is important to show many levels of text, then it's important to read them easily as well. Opt for consistently sized text for the text in bullet hierarchies.

Figures 3, 6, and 9 use the hanging indent shown above Figure 3. This is an acceptable hanging indent for font sizes of 14 points or less. If you plan to increase your font sizes for certain instances, then it's best to not use this hanging indent as your default. Again, the font size for each level of text should be the same.

The spacing between bullets and the levels of bullets are 0.5 line for Figures 3, 6, and 9. This makes the text for the individual bullets easier to read by providing for white space between the lines. If you need to place a lot of text in a small area, reduce the space between the bullets/levels of bullets to 0 or something smaller than 0.5.

Remember, you don't have to rely solely on increasing font sizes to gain clarity/readability or increase the area occupied by the text; and you don't have to rely solely on decreasing the font size to reduce the area occupied by bulleted text. You can work with the bullet formatting and line spacing, which is most often the better method. Try to keep font sizes consistent on your slides and use the spacing techniques to improve the layout/space utilization on the slides. Adjust font sizes as a last step/choice.