Learning from My Mistakes

So, I was recently asked to give a talk on Accidental Hypothermia. While I was making the talk, I decided to take a short-cut (aka, I got lazy) and put in a clipped portion of a graph from one of the key papers instead of recreating it myself or trying to use my supergraphic correctly.
Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 1.12.16 PM

Of course, the slide looked great when I was making the lecture, but it projected horribly! I was standing about 1/2 of the way back in the room and I couldn’t read it myself. This got me thinking. How big is the font in graphics like these? Perhaps if I knew how small the font actually was, it would help motivate me from making this mistake again.

So, I cut out a portion of the graphic and decided to use the phrase “impaired consciousness” to test font sizes.

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 1.12.37 PM

As you can see, the font in the graphic is only 16 pt. When directly compared to larger fonts, it seems ridiculous to use in any slide or presentation.

Lesson learned.

The Truth about Serif vs San Serif Fonts…

I have long wondered about some of the “rules” of presentation design. One of them which I used to mention in my own classes was the classic Serif vs. Sans Serif debate.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.17.05 PM

So according to Hoffman, et al. 2005, it turns out that the real key may be READABILITY. When asked about their preferences for projected fonts on screen, these were the top choices in order of preference. It is interesting that 3 of the 4 are, in fact, sans serif fonts, but don’t be so quick to throw out stylistic yet highly readable fonts like Times if they work for your presentation.


Hoffman B, White A, Aquino N. (2005) “Screen text readability: Ease, accuracy, and speed of some common computer typefaces.” IVLA Conference Proceedings

Exley K, Dennick R. (2009) Giving a lecture: From presenting to teaching. 2nd edition. New York, New York: Routledge