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Formatting and Layout

    • Only use built in slide layouts to create slides.
    • Master View: Set your styles/background on page templates. Remove unused templates to reduce file size.
    • Make sure that all slide text can be viewed in the Outline View.
    • Verify that the information in the outline view appears in the same order as in slide view.
    • Control white space with styles and NOT with the Enter key.
    • Use automatic slide numbering to add slide numbers.
    • Add date to first slide
    • Contact information on last slide

Text and Lists

    • Do not add Text Boxes to a slide layout.
    • Use the slide master styles to control formatting.
    • Text to be viewed on a projector should be large; 24pt min for copy; Headers and sub-headers 40-60 pts
    • Avoid uppercase and italics
    • Best to use Sans Serif (Arial and Verdana); no more than 3 font sizes per slide
    • Use Bullet styles for bulleted lists, NOT manually typed characters (e.g. Hyphens).
    • Use List numbering for numbered lists, NOT manually typed numbers.


    • Avoid automatic slide transitions.
    • Complex transitions can be distracting – use simple slide transitions


    • Incorporate sound for slide transitions to allow audience members who are blind or visually impaired to know when there is a new slide


    • Use Insert Table option – not the Draw Table option
    • Complex tables are NOT used.
    • The tab key or indent is NOT used to format tabular data.
    • Tables used for data are created using the Table tool.
    • Only use row headings in tables (tables are only read left to right top to bottom by screen readers in power point), Click on table > Table Tools > Design > Check the Header Row box (left side of bar in Table Style Options section)
    • Add Alt text/description to a table.
    • Do not leave blank cells or rows


    • All hyperlinks have titles describing the purpose or target of the link. “Click here” or “more” is NOT used as link titles.
    • Links contain the fully qualified URL (i.e., NOT
    • Show link URLs and email URLs are shown on the screen next to the title of the link. E.g. Google (

Non-Text Elements (Illustrations & Objects)

    • Use the insert icons to add graphics and pictures rather than copy and paste.
    • Use the Insert Chart option from Placeholder and add alt text
    • Embedded media and objects (spreadsheets, graphs or media) cannot be accessed by keyboard or AT users. Must have alternative text describing the embedded file as well as the type of file.
    • In addition to being embedded, the content must be provided in a separate file or via website link. (Example: Link to website so users can obtain more information on a subject. The raw link should be provided in the slide along with the Notes section.)
    • The notes pane can be used to describe complex images, flow charts, tables, and audio. Let user know that the information is contained in the notes panes. (Example: Full text description in the Notes section of the slide. You can also put the information in a text block next to chart.)
    • WebAim: Placing image or chart descriptions in this area is not reliable and should be avoided. This information may not be accessed by a screen reader, especially if the presentation is saved to PDF or some other format.
    • Type alternative text in the description field of the alt text tab of the format dialog.
    • Group complex images and use a single description for the group.
    • Do NOT use background images or watermarks.
    • Do NOT use word art or flashing images.
    • Do not put text over images or watermark
    • Shapes – add alt text (when a shape is added to a page, it goes to the end of the reading order – adjust reading order)
    • If image does not convey useful information, or if the image is described in the content, leave alternative text blank

Alt Text

    • Does not need to be viewed with the picture to make sense
    • Is as concisely worded as possible and does not exceed 100 characters
    • Is a sentence fragment, not a sentence; capitalize the first word only
    • Does not include ending punctuation or bold or italic formatting
    • Does not begin with an article or the phrase ''picture of''
    • Prioritize information in text alternative: Try to put the most important information at the beginning.


    • Do NOT use Color and highlighting as the only way to provide information.
    • Use high contrast between the foreground and background. For projected slides reverse contrast (light text on dark background) is often easier on the audience’s eyes.
    • Use colors sparingly for more effect, and to avoid overwhelming the audience.  
    • The standard contrast ratio for regular text less than 18 point or bolded text less than 14 point is 4.5:1 or more. For regular text 18 point or larger or bolded text 14 point or larger if bolded, the contrast ratio must be 3.0:1 or higher
    • Contrast ratio of 500:1is saying is that the white areas (the brightness when the video inputs are at their maximum value) are 500 times the brightness of the black


    • Transcripts are included for audio clips. (.txt format)
    • Captions and audio descriptions are included for videos

PowerPoint Resources and Links:


Check for accessibility issues

Custom Master Layouts:

The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE):

US Department of Health and Human Services:

US Department of Veterans Affairs:

Creating Accessible Documents with Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 (PDF)

The Office of Texas Governor:

PDF Checklist for Powerpoint

Alt Text resources:

VA Section 508 Newsletter Summer 2016


Inclusivity, Gestalt Principles, and Plain Language in Document Design