Creating and Using Overheads

General Formatting Guidelines

Manipulating how you present your information makes you r visuals more affective. Specific color schemes, as well as simplicity make visuals successful. To read more, choose any of the items below:

Landscape Orientation

All visuals should appear in "landscape" rather than "portrait" orientation. In other words, display your visual horizontally. When preparing transparencies for overhead projectors, turn the sheet sideways and mask off a 6" by 9" area. Use only this area for your material.

Maximum Text Readability

Help your audience read your visuals by:

  1. Using no more than three sizes of text.
  2. Limiting the size of your text between 24-48 pt. fonts.
  3. Avoiding ALL CAPITAL text and italics.

Clarity and Simplicity

Once you've constructed your visuals, answer the following questions:

  1. Are the visuals as simple as I can make them?
  2. Are my visuals appealing to the eye?
  3. Do my colors differentiate my various elements well?
  4. Is my text easy to read and absolutely necessary?


Each visual's title should be clear and concise. A visual's title is a short, declarative sentence similar to a newspaper heading. It expresses one main idea only. Generally, more than eleven words is too lengthy for a title.

While a title needs to be short and concise, it also should accurately describe a visual. For instance,

Accelerated Electrons

is probably not going to inform your audience as well as the following:

The accelerated electrons hit a target and produce x-rays.

Here's another:

Computer Simulations

is better depicted with:

Computer simulations aid evaluation of building system elements

If you are having problems creating titles, ask yourself "So what?" about a visual's overall content. Tell your audience what the particular visual is doing or represents.

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