An Evaluation of the Accuracy of PowerPoint Prescriptions


Various prescriptions for the design of Power Point presentations have been developed based on opinion rather than research. This study assesses the validity of two common prescriptions: the number of lines on a slide should be no more than seven and bulleted items should be displayed on a slide one at a time. In this study, different groups of participants were shown different versions of a presentation to test these prescriptions.

Participants were asked a series of questions designed to test their liking of the presentation, perceptions of speaker credibility and retention of presented material. The results of this study do not support these two common prescriptions and call into question the legitimacy of their use in the design of Power Point presentations. Audience liking of the presentation and perceptions of speaker credibility were not affected by the number of lines per slide or by the manner in which bulleted items were displayed.

Although audience retention of presented material was not affected by the number of lines on a slide, retention was affected by the manner in which these items were displayed. Retention increased when bulleted items were displayed all at once, not one at a time. These results directly conflict with the prescription that dictates items to be displayed one at time. The results of this study give insight into the accuracy of these two common prescriptions and subsequently, may affect the design of Power Point in oral presentations and classroom instruction. Communication scholars should avoid offering opinions as facts, and this study suggests that further investigation into these prescriptions and others is needed.


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Thesis Completion





Butler, Jeff


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Organizational Communication


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences; Microsoft PowerPoint (Computer file); Presentation graphics software







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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