Monday, March 7, 2016

Am I too black and white?

I don't like people who are very black and white about things. Life, science, teaching, and politics are complicated. There are shades of grey. Simplistic analysis leads to simplistic "solutions". Hopefully I often bring that out in this blog, in posts such as a political metaphor for the correlated electron community.

Yet there is an issue where I am quite black and white and adverse to technicolour solutions (the rainbow coalition?!): power point slides.
Recently I sat through a talk where the speakers slides had every dot point in a different colour.
I really find this hard to read and distracting. 
Yet this is not unusual.

What is wrong with plain old black and white and traditional fonts?
Below is a random choice of one of my slides. It is not very creative or glamorous but it is easy on the eyes and brain.
Am I alone in my aversion to fancy colours, fonts, and backgrounds?


  1. Fonts: you're not alone.
    Sometimes it makes sense though to have statements colored with the same colors as the datapoints (measured under different conditions/different samples/...) to create a coherently "labeled" presentation.
    I.e. labeling does not only have to pertain to figures. I would limit this to individual words, or bullet colors. OTherwise it's a circus that distracts.

    Background: this depends on your eyes; it can be quite a load on the eyes to have to look at a very white slide (like yours) - depending on the brightness of the projector.
    Having a uniform darker colored background may therefore be justifiable.

    On a basic level the goal is to convey information.
    If the formatting distracts some people from the contents, one has to ask the question: do I really need this formatting to make things clear, or can I do it in a simpler way without a colored circus.
    In the end, also that will be a subjective thing.

    One has to answer the basic question: how do you reach the largest fraction of the audience?

  2. No, I strongly agree. I also find complicated slides really challenging - several graphs, everything in small font, bits that pop up as we go. Let just have a few key things per slide please. Turn that complicated slide into five.

    I guess then you can't skip through it in one minute expecting everyone followed you.

  3. Plain, simpel, minimalistic. Apple style. I think you even have too much text on that slide. But it depends on how you present it.