One of the default features in PowerPoint is the ability for it to automatically adjust the size of text (“autofit”) in a text box so that it all fits. This may seem like a god-send, but, as with most automated features, it really shouldn’t be the end of the story.
PowerPoint autofit – take back your text
Consider this from a publishing perspective. Have you ever gotten to the end of a chapter in a book, and instead of whatever blank space is left on the page, the publisher made the type in the last paragraph twice as big as the text you’ve been reading so that it fills the rest of the page? Of course not. You see, the biggest offender here is not whether there are too many words on the slide (though that’s certainly a possibility) or that there’s unnecessarily large type (though that’s also a possibility), but that the type sizes are constantly changing from slide to slide.
Yes, using various type sizes is an effective tool of visual communication, but it should be intentional and consistent. Letting the PowerPoint autofit “feature” set your type is not the same thing.
There are lots of ways to improve the content on your slides, but one of the first is to commit to consistency by choosing a few sizes to use throughout your presentation. This is the same best practice used in publishing and improves the overall legibility and visual integrity of your message.
Control it all from the Master Slide
“OK,” you say, “but how?” The best way place to change this default behavior is in the Slide Master, usually under View > Master > Slide Master. Then, when you turn off the ‘autofit’ feature, it will be applied to your entire presentation. Below are some places you might find it in your version of PowerPoint.
Overall, you should choose text sizes that you can use throughout the presentation. It’s ok to have some write space (really!), and the consistency of the text, like your favorite book, will make your content easier to read, and give your message visual credibility.