Slides for Presentations? [recommended refs.]

Dean Pentcheff dean at
Thu Apr 21 17:01:15 EST 1994

If you are in the business of presenting data graphically, whether by
slides or in publications, then run (do not walk) and get hold of the
following two books:

Tufte, E.R. (1983) The visual display of quantitative information.
	Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut.
Tufte, E.R. (1990) Envisioning information.  Graphics Press.

Tufte has a remarkably clear and level-headed approach to presenting
information graphically.  I do not agree with every one of his specific
recommendations, but his approach is exemplary.  I think differently
about presenting data, having read and viewed his books.

Another useful and informative reference is:

Cleveland, W.S. (1985) The elements of graphing data.  Wadsworth,
	Monterey, California.

I have a minor disagreement with the prior posting (which is a matter of
preference, not right or wrong):
okapi at (Nikolaj Pecenko) writes:
>- use a dark-coloured background. It is better than black or white.

After going with blue-background slides (with white lettering/graphs) for
some time, I have reverted to mainly clear slides with black lettering.
I find that they have several advantages:

- Clear slides put enough light in the room that the audience tends to
  get less somnolent, and you get better eye-contact with them since you
  can see their eyes.
- Even a dim projecting situation yields very readable results.
- The light shed from the screen can allow you to read your notes even
  if the podium light is poor or missing.
- Slides made at different times match well - there is no annoying
  variation in background color.
- It's easy to make _good_ high-contrast B&W slides (using either direct-
  positive film or Polaroid B&W slide film).  Getting _good_ color slides
  takes a lot of trial and error (or an expensive commercial slide making

N. Dean Pentcheff 
Biological Sciences, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia SC 29208 (803-777-3936)
Internet addresses: pentcheff at or dean at
WWW link:  <a href="">home page</a>

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