The BBC & Slide Design - 5 tips

Every week the editorial team at the BBC's Monitor blog page create three to four simple slides to illustrate the week's news in figures. You can mirror the simple techniques at play here to help you create clean, clear slides with a strong visual flow. Applied correctly they will make your slides look like a marketing team designed them. Here are 5 tips to get you started.

Bbc Lion

Tip 1 - Find your Image

Find a high-res image that illustrates your content. The video below demonstrates how you can use Google's advanced search to find the perfect image.

Don't go for the obvious - often your third or fourth idea moves an image further away from cliche territory. After all how many times have you seen a lightbulb used to represent 'a good idea' or a target symbol to show 'goals reached'? Ideally look for an image that has the space to insert a transparent box. In the example above, the lion's head is the key part of the image whilst the legs can remain happily behind the colour text box.

Tip 2 - Use Transparency & White Text

We often see images that have had their transparency levels increased to compensate for dark text overlays. This is not the best way to highlight your information. In the image below the BBC have used a technique which we think is far more compelling.

BBC Sentinel 2

The transparent box enables us to see the remaining part of the image but also allows us to clearly read the content. A simple white font means we can easily digest the relevant data.

Tip 3 - Colour Match

It's important when using a coloured transparent box that it colour matches the image behind it. This is not as complicated as it may sound, even if you have little or no design experience. All you are looking to do is identify the tones within your image that can be mirrored in the box. Again in the case of the lion image, it's the red from the base of his teeth that were used. There are also a number of useful apps that can do this automatically for you. Below is a photo from my garden taken with the Color View Finder App

Garden Color Finder

It's a great free app that takes out all of the work. All I now need to do is pick a colour to use.

Tip 4 - Text Size

A common issue with a lot of the presentations we see on our training courses is the many variations in text size. Unfortunately most of these inconsistencies stem back to PowerPoint templates. PowerPoint will by default increase or decrease text size to fill a box. We would recommend keeping strictly to two or three variations in your font sizes. In the example below the key data is larger and in bold.

BBC Population Graphic

Tip 5 - Condense your Content

Slides should always be there to support and assist the speaker. The speaker should always be the expert. If you are the lead singer then the slides are your backing group.

Slides must be simple to understand with the information easy to comprehend quickly. We should be able to glance at your slides and then get back to you, the expert, as you continue your presentation. The less distracting information there is behind you, the more informed you will appear.


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