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A friend suggested that I blog about resources that would be helpful for MBA students to create PowerPoint presentations and reports. I thought that was a great idea because even when a professor says it’s the content that counts not the design of the content, it's only half true—while the content is the most important, the content will be better received if it is designed well. To put it in business school language, a well-designed presentation creates value for all stakeholders involved. Thus, here are some tips and resources to help create more engaging content, whether in print or on screen.

I have studied type for over 15 years, taught typography for 6 years, and my MFA thesis was on typographic technologies and their influences on communication design in print and online (perhaps not a crowd pleaser in business school), so I feel I can say this with some sort of authority—NEVER USE COMIC SANS! The use of this font is never acceptable under any circumstances. Comic sans is only for eight year olds who write poems about unicorns!

All fonts have a purpose and reflect a specific way of communicating to an audience. Designers understand the importance of type and the emotional impact they can evoke. There is a reason why Times (or Times New Roman) is the most specified font by business professors for assignment submissions — it says this document is professional. As well, there is reason why it’s available on every operating system (Mac or PC)—it is one of the most legible fonts ever designed for print. That said, it has also been describe as the “sweatpants” of fonts. Nonetheless, it works. So, if presented with the choice of selecting a font for an assignment and you don’t know what to use, choose Times. Do not use Arial Narrow. One, it’s harder to read a condensed font and chances are you professor doesn’t have the eyesight of a 25-year-old. Consequently, they will subconsciously thank you for making it easier for them to read your paper; no, it won’t increase your grade but they won’t be frustrated either while reading your work. Personally, I would choose a happy prof over an aggravated prof while grading my work. Two, if you’re using Arial Narrow chances are it’s because you’re going to go over the page limit with a regular font. Perhaps take that as a cue (see blog entry Customer Experience Design class 02) that you should be more concise with your writing. Reading is a customer experience and choosing a legible and readable font (I won't bore you with the differences, after all, I am trying to create an enjoyable blog experience) is about creating an effortless reading experience, one that doesn't involve straining the eye.

If you are feeling adventurous and would like to consider other typographic options beyond the standard set of system fonts installed on your computer, here are some great resources for free fonts:

Another typographic tip, whether for print or screen, is to stick to one font family. For example, Garamond, a nice alternative to Times, has three different weights—Roman, Italic and, bold. Also, if you are learning toward using Arial Narrow because you are running out of room, then try this font instead. It’s legible, elegant, and provides you with more writing real estate. If you’re are feeling bold (bad type joke, couldn’t resist) and would like something more dynamic then try a serif for the body copy and a san serif for headers. This works well for print based work. When working on screen a san serif works better for legibility (but there are expectations). There are some fonts that have been specifically designed for the screen that come with your computer—Verdana and Georgia are two options of many.

In terms of designing your slide deck for a case competition or a presentation for MGMT 5150, below is a great website that explains simple layout tips to create clear engaging presentations.



  • When in doubt ere on the side of simplicity—LESS IS MORE

  • Create a template that can be used on every page to provide visual consistency. Your content will continuously change—the eye craves consistent elements. Also, bullets points don't have periods unless the point has more than one line.

  • Keep your line length to maximum 7 inches

  • Use a minimum of 18-20 pt. type when creating presentations for screen projection

  • Keep the language concise—no one wants to read a paragraph, bullet point should be a quick summary of the idea

  • There is only space after a period—double space went out with the typewriter

  • Hyphens are not bullet points. Just because you have the option in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to choose a hyphen for a bullet doesn’t mean you should—this is a huge pet peeve of mine and a hard-and-fast rule.

So those are the type tips I felt are most relevant. I could geek out and go but TMI—To Much Information, is a real affliction. However, should you feel inspired and thus inclined to learn more about typography, Ellen Lupton, who is the curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City and the director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. has a great website:

I have one last important type tip:

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Dumb Quotes (or Apostrophes)”

"Don't Be A Dummy!"

Don't Be A Dummy!

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