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Checklist for Creating Presentations

Make sure you tick all items on a checklist before you create a presentation.


When you are creating a new presentation, either for yourself or a client, there are many things you need to determine – even before the first slide is created. On this page, we have compiled a list of such things – if you discover a new item that needs to be on this list, or something that needs more detail, please do get in touch with us via our feedback form.

There's an important prerequisite before you begin – is your storyboard done? There's no sense in a checklist if you do not have the proper structure for your presentation in place. Look at our Presentation Storyboarding and Analog Storyboards pages to learn more.

Checklist for Creating Presentations

Here are the checklist items, in no particular order:

  1. Aspect Ratio: What's the aspect ratio you want to use for your slides? The most common aspect ratios are Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9). Most versions of PowerPoint can handle both of these aspect ratios well but PowerPoint 2013 is probably the best at changing slides from one ratio to another. If you use another version of PowerPoint for Windows, you can explore Steve Rindsberg's Resize add-in. We don't know about a similar solution for PowerPoint's Mac versions.

    An aspect ratio is the ratio between the width and the height of your slides. There are two popular aspect ratios in use: standard (4:3) and wide screen (16:9). This means that for a width of any 4 units within a standard slide, the height is 3 units. For wide screen slides, the proportions of width:height are similarly 16:9. As an analogy, standard slides are akin to older TVs while 16:9 reflects the resolution you see in newer wide screen HD TVs.

    See Also: Change Presentation Aspect Ratio from Widescreen to Standard (and Vice Versa) in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

  2. Template or Theme: Think about whether you are using a template / Theme for the slides? Most large companies have their custom template / Theme – so that's less of an issue to think about. On the other hand, many clients who may ask you to create a presentation may want you to create their template / Theme as well because they may believe that the look provided by the template / Theme is part of a presentation. Make sure you discuss this issue with them.

    Templates and Themes -- Are They Different?
    So, are Templates and Themes different? Yes, they are different but they are similar too. The biggest difference is indicated in their full names: PowerPoint Template and Office Theme. Whereas Templates are limited to PowerPoint alone, Themes can also influence documents created in other Office applications such as Word and Excel. Beyond this difference, Templates can also contain sample slides -- and Themes cannot.

  3. PowerPoint Version: Which version of PowerPoint do you need to create the presentation for? Most of the time you do want to create something that will work on all versions, but that's not always possible. There still are some very large companies that use PowerPoint 2003, and there's no way you can create something that works the same in 2003 and 2013! So make sure you know what you are in for. Read our PowerPoint Version Hell article to learn more.

  4. Operating System: Whereas PowerPoint on all Operating System platforms does try to play with the same fidelity, that’s not always possible. For many years, you need to have bothered only if your slides played fine within the PowerPoint applications on Windows and Mac. Now you also need to factor in newer platforms where PowerPoint is available such as iOS, Android, and also the browser based PowerPoint Online.

  5. Corporate Identity: While most of the time, the corporate identity of a client is taken care of via an approved template / Theme, this may not always be true, especially if the template / Theme is not well structured in the first place. Therefore make sure you ask if they have rules on logo placement. Some companies have a Visual Style Manual for corporate identity purposes that you can request for – this Visual Style Manual goes into detail about all placement, logo, and color issues.

  6. Slide Element Preferences: Does your client have preferences for a certain chart type? A certain table type? Try to find this information discreetly first and then pursue further.

Keeping track of everything you need via a checklist ensures that you will be more prepared to create better slides. As time progresses, and as you evolve as a presentation designer, many of these checklist items will need to be changed, removed, or enhanced.

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003 for Windows
PowerPoint 2016 and 2011 for Mac
PowerPoint Online for Windows and Mac

Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

Go and get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences ebook.

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