by Adam Noar
If creating PowerPoint slides is the bane of your existence, we’ve got a great tip for you:
Great ppt designers know about the secret rule of grids, and once you get it, you’ll see them everywhere: magazines, billboards, newspapers, even websites.
Grid design is a quick and dirty way to clean up your slides, keep things organized, make your presentation beautiful, and much more:
1. Grid Design Keeps Your Slides Nicely Organized
If clutter and chaos are your usual design aesthetic and you need some help breaking the habit, grids are the easiest way to do it. They sort of force you (nicely) to keep things aligned, evenly spaced, and structured well.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Once you have the appearance of your grid roughly laid out, start filling it in. You’ll soon realize that you have plenty of different ways you can play around with it – after all, you still have to fit all your images, headers, and body text in the slide. The way they’re put together has to make sense, but there will be so many options you won’t even feel restricted.
The best way to start is to break down all the information you want to put on the slide, both images, and text. Think about how it naturally breaks down, and that will create the base organization. From there, start plugging them in and see what happens!
2. Grids Help You Create Slides Faster
2017 Project Presentation Template
A blank canvas can be the most inspiring or the most terrifying thing you look at. If you lean towards the terrifying end of things, a grid is a perfect way to fill up some of the space and give you some direction. You’ll suddenly have the bones of a layout without a whole lot of work, and you can jump into the part where you fill in the spaces you have.
And you know what that means? The process goes a whole lot faster.
Once you get over your empty page paralysis, jumping right in means you waste a lot less time. It also restricts your possibilities a bit, which means you have a bit more direction from the very beginning. You have a purpose: fill in the spaces with your information in a way that makes sense. It’s a great starting point, especially for beginners, and it will make the whole process go much faster.
It’s like a cheat sheet for placing and positioning. Instead of having to constantly move around your elements until you get something that you think looks good, the grid will cut out a lot of the guesswork.
3.Grids Make Your Text and Fonts Look Awesome
There’s something extremely pleasing to the eye about a grid layout. It’s even, straight, aligned, and can even lean modern or old-school depending on your design choices. But in the end, you should pretty much always get something that looks awesome, especially for your font.
For one, it will make your text look neater. If you have a slide filled with tons of text, it can easily look sloppy and boring – a grid will make it look clean and purposeful.
In addition to that, grids have small lines that run horizontally that your text sits on. It makes the text way more legible and pleasing to the eye because all your text will be on the same level across the slide. It’s not something people will notice specifically, but they will subconsciously pick up on the underlying alignment of your slides, and it will make a much cleaner impression overall.
4. Balancing Your Slides Will Get Way Easier with Grid Design
Startup X Presentation Template
There are a lot of elements that go into making a slide balanced, and they can feel confusing and overwhelming for a novice designer – and even for seasoned ones! There are a lot of tricks of the trade you pick up over time, but using a grid will get you there faster and easier than the constant drafting and redrafting of a blank page.
A grid will lay out a symmetrical guideline for your slide, so you can much more easily see what is overwhelming the slide. As a shortcut, your text and images should take up the same amount of space, or they can be 2:1. So if you split the page down the middle, or into four, you should have half images and half text. If you want to split it into three even columns, the middle column looks great as an impactful image with the outside columns as text.
If you’re ready to take the next step in this, see what happens when you take a header or a (short) main idea and make it a visually impactful text. It falls somewhere in between just an image or just text, so you have a bit of flexibility with how you use it and how it will affect the balance of your slide. It’s so easy to get creative!
5. Grids Will Enhance Your Visual Hierarchy
When you’re first starting out with grids, having equally sized squares or rectangles is the easiest way to go. It’s still visually pleasing and easy enough to play around with. However, once you get comfortable with that, it’s time to level-up.
Using a grid design is an easy way to show visual hierarchy, and you don’t need boxes of the same size to do it. For example, you can have one large square on the left half of the slide, and four smaller squares that break up the right side. It’s immediately obvious what the most important thing on the slide is: it’s the biggest one.
This works great with headers as well. Alter the size of the text to make it so big it fills up the whole box – as long as it’s not that much text (your header should be short anyway), it will look great. It will also be easy to spot as your main idea, with your smaller text supporting it.
You can use this strategy anywhere on your slide, by the way. Your audience’s eye will be instantly drawn to the biggest element on the page, so get creative with where you put it! You can highlight the most important piece of information on the slide this way, and it’s ridiculously easy. Try playing around with images, headers, important pieces of text, whatever it is that you want to stick with your audience.
6. Say Goodbye to Cluttered Slides
Imagine Presentation Template
When you think of how you want your slide to look, “cluttered” is usually not the word the comes to mind. Cluttered sounds like your grandma’s attic, or an abandoned storage shed – not really a beautiful and impactful presentation.
If you struggle with cluttered slides for any reason – you try to cram in too much information, you have trouble with alignment, or you haven’t quite figured out how much empty space there should be between your elements – grids are the perfect hack for you. In particular, grids with margins and gutters.
Margins go around the outside of your slide like a frame made up of blank space. It will keep you from pushing all your information out to the very edge by imposing a new limit. Gutters go in between the rows and columns, and when they’re all the same size, they create beautifully and evenly spaced elements on your slide. Both of these will make your slide much cleaner and open feeling.
7. Grids Can Encourage White Space
Here at Presentation Panda, we love whitespace, and we think it’s very underrated! It’s such an easy way to give your presentation a boost of that modern, clean look, and we don’t think it’s used enough.
This is also probably our easiest tip: pick at least one of the boxes created by your grid and leave it empty. This has so much creative potential and can make your slides super impactful without a lot of effort. Try leaving the top half empty, or the entire middle row, or the top left and bottom right boxes. As always, try different things to see what you like!
Pro tip: Your whitespace doesn’t even have to be white. Try filling it in with one of the colors from your theme – it will still create an empty space, but with a little more personality.
8. Break the Grid For Extra Impact When You Need It
Minimal Presentation Template
Now for our favorite rule: break the rule!
Grids are awesome for all the reasons we’ve already listed – having a template, keeping things aligned, and looking clean and nice. However, breaking the grid can create a ton of impact, especially when used sparingly, and in the right places.
One of our favorite ways to do this is with a header that disregards the lines of the grid altogether – running across the page diagonally, going off the page, you name it, have fun with it. It will look beautiful and really jump out.
Another great way to do this is the play with the sizes of the grid boxes. If you have a margin around the page, consider selecting one box to ignore the margin. It will create visual interest, immediate hierarchy, and look more playful and fun.
For our last suggestion, try choosing two of the boxes created by the grid, merge them, and align your element to the center of the box. It will break the imposed lines and keep everything from looking so uniform.
Don’t take these as the only way to do this, by the way. Listen to our second favorite rule: get creative with it. It can’t hurt to experiment, and even if you end up hating it you’ll learn something about what works and what doesn’t when you change it to something you love.
9. Grids Are Super Flexible – They Can Adapt If You Need to Add or Remove Text
If you’re thinking that grids are going to be too rigid for your taste, rest assured that they can be super flexible! They can adapt to whatever design you want to do, be it image-heavy, text-heavy, or anywhere in between.
When you’re creating the grid, it’s up to you how many rows and columns you think will work best. They also don’t have to be evenly spaced – consider one large column on the left, and two smaller columns on the right or one large box in the middle surrounded by smaller boxes around it. The possibilities are not exactly endless, but pretty close.
Of course, you want to consider the flexibility you’ll have with the number of boxes. The more boxes you have, the more flexibility you’ll have. This may be perfect for your presentation or your style, so think about what you need and make the grid work however you want it!
Also, consider keeping some sort of consistency throughout your presentation, but without keeping every slide the exact same grid layout. To start, you can use the same method that templates do, and have a set grid design depending on the type of slide. If you want more flexibility, brainstorm some basic creative guidelines (large images, for example) and then anything that follows your guidelines goes!
10. Grids Will Make Your Slides “Easy on The Eyes”
Influencer Presentation Template
Grids are a great design element for a lot of reasons, and at the heart of it all is … math! I know, right? Not what we were expecting either.
No matter how much you hated math in high school, our eyes prefer a mathematically pleasing design. The rule of thirds is the most common example of that, which we wrote about in-depth here. With grids, you can use this rule by dividing up the page into three columns and three rows, evenly spaced. Voila, your design is already pleasing to the eye.
Even if you don’t put line grids, you can use the rule of thirds to find the best place to put the focal point of your slides. Remember the three rows and three columns? Look at where the lines that create them intersect – if we’re on the same page, that should be four points.
Use those points to guide where you want the focus to be, whether it be the most interesting part of your image, your header, or your text. That’s the space that our eye naturally likes the best, so use it.
We hope you’re as stoked on grids as we are, and feeling inspired to put them to good use in your next presentation! Do you have any favorite grid-related tips that we missed? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.