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Best Practice

Define Slide Content Area

A situation arose recently that perfectly illustrated the necessity for having a well-defined area for slide content. Take a look at the template below. It's a very simple layout that should have been very easy to use. But the call outs raise some issues that contributed to last-minute adjustments to margins (and sometimes font sizes) because content did not appear consistently placed from slide to slide. In this particular instance, several people were working on slide development. Each had his/her own idea of what the margins should be: one chose to use the line at the bottom to define the right and left margins on the slide; one chose the left margin of the title to be the left margin for the content because he didn't like it when the content went farther left than the title; one chose the right margin of the title to be the right margin for the content, making the content off center on the slide; one chose to center align all of the content. When pieced together, the slides weren't consistent and the team leader was unhappy that the content was bouncing around from slide to slide – not a very professional look.

Whether you're creating templates or using them, it's important to understand how to work with templates. Visual prompts on the slide, which are created by the design elements and/or the text fields, are supposed to guide the user about margins and layout. When these visual prompts are inconsistent on a slide, people are going to interpret layout differently, creating inconsistencies in the presentation.

If you're creating templates, be mindful of this and make sure your layouts clearly support identifiable content areas. If you're using templates, be sure to identify the content area (and make sure those on your team so likewise). This will eliminate the extra step of making all the slides adhere to a common area later in the production process, sometimes very close to deadline.