Answer to “How can I make effective use of PowerPoint in my lecture?”

PowerPoint is used widely by lecturers to support their presentations.  While it has benefits to offer it is frequently used badly with “Death by PowerPoint” as the result.  Studies have demonstrated some basic principles that should be followed


  • Avoid information overload.  This results from too much information on a frame or too many frames with insufficient time for the student to assimilate the information on the frame

  • Have a maximum of seven lines on a frame with a maximum of seven words on a line

  • Choose a type font that can be clearly seen from the back of the classroom

  • Use colour appropriately, yellow or white on a blue background is effective.  Use of red text is not.

  • While bulleted lists may be appropriate, use them sparingly

  • Be imaginative and creative in designing your frames and do not think of them simply as summary notes of your lecture

  • Use video clips, newspapers and photography where appropriate

  • Do not expect the PowerPoint slide to stand alone or be self-explanatory.  Students learning best looking at a slide and listening to a commentary

  • Do not make excessive use of transitions between slides.  This can be distracting.


Harden, R.M., (2008).  Death by PowerPoint – the need for a ‘fidget index’.  Medical Teacher, Vol. 30, 2008, pp.833-835

Holzl, J. (1997).  Twelve Tips for effective PowerPoint presentations for the technologically challenged. Medical Teacher, Vol 19, 1997, pp.175-179