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August 10, 1984

Don't Crowd Your Slides!

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1984;252(6):775-776. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350060023020

When I was a trainee, my division head stressed two simple rules in preparing papers for presentation at scientific meetings: (1) don't overload your slides, and (2) put explanatory titles on your data slides. The first rule promoted legibility; the second allowed the viewer to get the general message even if unfamiliar with the techniques used and helped the wandering mind to rediscover the path. I have just attended a national scientific meeting and been impressed anew that these two simple rules are seldom observed, with the result that many speakers' slides proved a distraction from rather than a supplement to the spoken presentation.

Although guidelines for slide preparation and presentation are published by manufacturers of photographic materials and equipment, by graphics departments at universities, by the educational divisions of various professional societies, and by the authors of texts for graphics courses, they constitute a body of largely ignored information,