[title size=”2″]PowerPoint’s Aspect Ratio[/title]
Looking around my desk I see a desktop monitor, laptop screen, iPad mini, and an iPhone, all in widescreen. Indeed, over the last 4-5 years has been a rapid move from portrait to landscape media devices. A look at video software editors and distribution platforms confirms this shift. iMovie 10, for example, has done away with the option to create portrait videos (4:3 aspect ratio) and YouTube now shows all videos in widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio), regardless of how they were originally formatted.
Here is an image from a video in 4:3 being shown by YouTube in 16:9.
Notice all the blank space on each side of the video.
Compare that to an image from a video created in 16:9 aspect ratio. Notice that the blank sides are now in use!
[title size=”2″]PPT’s Default Aspect Ratio[/title]
The vast majority of faculty use PowerPoint to create presentations. PowerPoint is flexible, powerful, and easy to use, but it has a flaw. The default aspect ratio for PowerPoint, despite the changes in displays, is still 4:3, and most of us stay with this default. This is not out of a misplaced loyalty to “old-timey” screen sizes, but out of habituation. We (teachers) are used to seeing PowerPoints in 4:3. It simply doesn’t occur to us to “go” widescreen. The result is a loss of onscreen real-estate, and in certain contexts, the appearance of unprofessionalism.
[title size=”2″]Changing PPT’s Aspect Ratio[/title]
It is easy to change the aspect ratio of a PPT, but it needs to be done before you start creating content. Changing the aspect ratio of a PPT, with pre-created content, will cause your images to stretch and distort.
Here is the same image after it was converted from a standard 3:4 to 16:9 inside PowerPoint.
When you are ready to change the aspect ratio of your PPTS do the following:
Go to PPT’s “file menu”, pull down to “page setup”, and under “slides are sized for” selected “On-Screen Show (16:9)”.
Cool. I have never thought about this before. But it makes sense to do away from the portrait, I guess. My question is, isn’t there an optimal line length for reading? I mean, if a line gets too long it becomes hard to read. Would it be easy to fall into long lines if we start with widescreen, and if so, how can we avoid it?
Sure there are line length issues, but a good rule of thumb in videos and PPT presentations is to keep the amount of words on the screen to an absolute minimum. There is only a few things humans can process in their working memory at the same time, so if people are listening to you, asking them to read is a little taxing. It is actually easier for us to handle auditory information from a presenter and images than auditory info and written text. Think of how tiring subtitles in a movie can be over time.
That makes a lot of sense! Maybe powerpoint should be reserved more for images and graphs.
[…] tips for PowerPoints creation. Video 1 will get you started with “best practices”. (more info here) Video 2 provides some simple tips for working collaboratively on a cross-platform presentation […]