Creating Effective PowerPoint® Presentations

A Resource to Share with Students

By Chrissine Rios, Writing Tutor

Microsoft® PowerPoint® is a tool for creating dynamic oral presentations. This tutorial introduces the elements of a PowerPoint® presentation and helps you get started by illustrating the steps for creating slides and the features that make a presentation effective.


If you have been assigned a PowerPoint® in addition to an essay or instead of an essay, here are the key similarities and differences between these two forms:

Elements of a PPT vs an Essay


Similar to drafting an essay, when creating a PowerPoint®, you need to define your topic and focus, determine your audience, and know your purpose–whether you are informing, educating, entertaining, or persuading.

Another essential step that takes as much time when creating a PowerPoint® as it does when writing an essay is to research your subject matter and prewrite your ideas.

A next step to fully prepare is to make an informal outline to organize your ideas and establish a clear beginning middle and end. With the groundwork complete and content prepared, you are ready to create Slide 1.

Slide 1

1.    New presentations begin with a title slide. Follow the directions given in the text placeholders beginning with “click to add title.”

2.     Then, in the next box, add your subtitle. You may also use this area to provide your name and the university name per APA guidelines or any other information required on your title slide.

3.     Since a PowerPoint® accompanies an oral presentation, you may want to add speaker notes in the notes pane to elaborate on the points on each slide.

Slide 1

Slide 1: Add title, subtitle, your name, your university name, and in the Notes pane, your speaker notes.

Slides 2, 3, 4…

1.    To insert another slide, right-click the thumbnail of the slide that you want the next slide to follow.

2.    On the drop-down menu, click “New Slide.”

3.    The new slide will open in a default layout. To use this layout, “click to add title,” and in the body placeholder, you can click to add text or select from the media options.

Slides 2, 3, 4...

4.    To use another layout, open the Slide Layout task pane and select the layout that best suits your content.

Slide Layout Task Pane

5.    Continue inserting slides using the same steps as above, or insert a “Duplicate Slide” and replace the text or image to maintain consistent title placement and formatting.

APA Citation Tips:

  • Cite your research after the bullet point(s) that have the quoted, paraphrased, or summarized text.
  • You can insert text boxes as needed and position them on the slide to add citations to images or charts from your research. Refer to the Insert menu on the PowerPoint® toolbar to use this feature.


PowerPoint® presentations are meant to be seen more than read. Their impact depends on their visual appeal, so you will want to apply design features. For the design to be effective, consider the following:

1. Apply a theme. Themes are design templates that establish the background, bullets, charts, SmartArt, and text style, as well as the position of the content placeholders. Slide layout options also remain available, and you can resize and reposition any object on a slide (except the stylistic patterns built into the themes).

Apply a Theme

Apply a theme.

2.  Use a consistent background such as one design template throughout. Only use a different background in the presentation to bring attention to one slide. 

Use a consistent background, color scheme, and font.

3. Use a consistent color scheme throughout of no more than three colors (or one design theme).   When selecting colors, avoid hard-to-read extremes such as black text on a white background, which is blinding, or white text on a black background, which is like reading the inside of a box. 

4. Use one type of transition between slides for consistency. 

5. Use the same font throughout such as Arial, Times, Verdana, or Calibri. Use font sizes large enough to view from anywhere in the room. Avoid using font smaller than 24. 

6. Use visuals such as charts, images, and clipart to illustrate your content. However, do not add clipart simply to make a slide fancier or more colorful. 

An Ineffective Slide Design

Cartoonish clipart is unprofessional and distracting. In this example it also crowds the text, which itself is too frilly, dense, slanted, and small to read.

All elements of the slide must work together to be effective and have the intended impact on the audience.

Effective Slide Design
An effective design includes a title that reflects the topic of the slide. The content is presented in 4 lines. Notice the bullet points finish the sentence. When listing, capitalize the first word of each bulleted point, and when applicable, any proper nouns. Use grammatical and parallel clause and phrase structures when listing.

APA Citation 

When using Microsoft® PowerPoint® clipart in your Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation, you do not have to cite it according to APA.  If you use clipart or images from an on-line source, however, you will want to attribute the art to its source with a citation. In APA format, this citation format is the following: 

In-text, aligned with image: (Name of image creator, Year image was made)

Reference slide: Name of image creator, A. A. (Year image was made). Title of image. . Retrieved from http://…

Want to Learn More About PowerPoint? The Microsoft® PowerPoint® website has many tutorials to choose from:

Download this tutorial as a pdf

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this information! This is a terrific resource for my students in completing one of their course assignments. I’m definitely going to share! 🙂

    • kuwcnews says:

      Thank you, Terresa. We are so glad the blog helped. Chrissine always makes fabulous resources, and we will try to post more of them.

      Thanks for your comment!

  1. June 6, 2022

    […] to the resource, “Creating Effective PowerPoint Presentations,” located in the Student Success Center, for additional guidance on completing this assignment in the appropriate […]

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