Typography in Presentations – Text Effects

Herewith, a can of trouble is opened; with what I’m going to tell you now, you can do terrible things. I trust you will follow my advice and be careful.

PowerPoint text has formatting options like other PowerPoint objects,  including shadows, glows and “3D” effects. Although this post demonstrates some of these effects, you are strongly advised to use  sparingly and with purpose. Nothing can demonstrate your PowerPoint naiveté like circus poster text effects.

Here are line and fill examples:Line and fill examples

Here are shadow, reflection and glow examples:

The “transform” text effects distort the text in various ways.

The simplest of these (“warp”) lets you squeeze or stretch text vertically or horizontally.  Note: turn off text wrap.

Transform effects

Text effects offer a lot of opportunities for circus poster-like excess. Combinations of effects can create some pretty awful results. These awful examples combine 3D, transforms, gradient/picture fills and shadows:

Bad examples

Remember: if it doesn’t contribute to the message, leave it out. Bizarre combinations of “cool” fill and effects will distract, not contribute. Consistent, professional appearance will also suffer.

There are some cases where text effects can be used (sparingly) to help with your message. I can think of four kinds of application:

1. Style –Fonts combined with text effects may reinforce the meaning of the text.Style examples

2. Figurative – in drawings containing text, text effects and font choices can make the object more convincing.


3. Visual concepts – the shapes that make up some concepts (pyramids, wheels, etc.) may make it difficult to include legible text. The example shows how “arched” text makes it possible to clearly label the segments.Concepts4. Emphasis – in an earlier post in this typography series, I suggested that size can be used as an emphasis tool; that post contains this comparison:


Using the “warp” effect is an easy way to scale text like this.

1 Response to “Typography in Presentations – Text Effects”

  1. 1 Word Clouds in PowerPoint « powerpointy Trackback on February 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

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