April 01, 2012
Training Tip 23: Slide Show Formatting Basics
Compliance with the following basic slide show formatting principles can make make your presentation appear much more professional:
Colors. Old fashioned transparencies, often referred to as overheads, worked much better as dark text on a light, preferably white background. Modern computer slide show projectors use a different technology. With slides, light colored text works best against a dark background.
What background color is best? Some authorities suggest trying to match colors to the emotional mood you are trying to create. For example:
Purple: Royalty, wisdom, spirituality, mystery
Green: Nature, environment, health, reptiles, insects
Gray: Conservative, practical, reliability, security, staid
See the Think Outside the Slide website for more.
Certainly there might be some benefit to this approach in some situations. However, as a practical matter I usually give these factors little consideration when preparing my own slide shows. I normally use the color combination that is generally acknowledged to have the highest legibility: Dark blue background, with light text, usually white or yellow. The most important thing for me is that the audience be able to read the slides easily. I'll use methods other than color if I feel I need to maniuplate the audience's emotions.
Whatever color scheme you choose, to improve legibility try to maximize the contrast between foreground and background. Light grey text on a medium gray background is a recipe for disaster. The Think Outside the Slide website has a color contrast calculator.
Font Followup. Last month we had a detailed discussion on selecting fonts for various projects, including slide shows. Selecting the right fonts gets us only part of the way home, though. Size is important. Some authorities suggest rules of thumb, even a 24 point minimum. However, point sizes of different fonts are not directly comparable, so I recommend a more pragmatic rule: Test the size of your font from a distance equal to the distance from the most remote seat in the auditorium you will be using. If you prefer a rule of thumb to actual testing, then you will usually be OK with fonts size 18 points or higher.
The ransom note effect is another font hazard. Keep the number of fonts to a minimum.
Bullet Points. Bullet points have the salutory effect of improving quick comprehension. However, deploy them wisely. Squeezing too many bullet points on a slide creates a cluttered impression. No more than five bullet points per page is a pretty good rule of thumb.
Bullet Point Sub-Levels. Avoid having more than two levels of bullets on slides. In other words, you can have a bullet point, and one sub-level below them. If you need more sub-levels to convey complex ideas, it's better to break them into more slides.
Templates. Good slide show software provides templates (called "slide masters" in MS PowerPoint) to provide a consistent layout. I occasionally see presenters who do not use templates. It's nearly always a mistake. The templates are designed by professional designers. The defaults in a decent template will facilitate a professional appearance. A Google search on the phrase using powerpoint templates will find plenty of tutorials to get you started. You can override the template for a particular slide if you want, you can even modify the template if you need to, and you can even create your own templates. In any event, take advantage of templates to help make a good impression on your audiences.
Logos. Some presenters who have just learned how to edit templates or create their own succumb to the temptation to include their organization's logo on every slide. This is popular in businesses as a form of "branding." It is generally not advisable in the ethics training context. A logo on every page is usually overkill that limits your flexibility to structure subsequent slides. The best approach is probably to include the logo on the first slide, and maybe the last. If demands of unsophisticated supervisors or other reasons make you feel you absolutely must include the logo on every slide, make it small, except on the first slide and the last, where you can usually get away with more. Whatever you do, don't follow the example of one OGE conference presentation I saw that included no less than four different agency seals on every single slide, one for each of the four presenters!
Edited April 2, 2012 with various improvements.
March 14, 2012
VA looking for computer-based AET
VA is looking for some computer-based annual ethics training. If you have some computer-based training that you are willing and able to share, that is SCORM 1.2 conformant and section 508 compliant, please contact Jane Gutcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 461-7624.
October 19, 2011
ABA Article: Using RSS Feeds with Internet Explorer
RSS feeds are the best way to keep up with IEC Journal and other websites using sophisticated technology. An ABA Legal Technology Center article explains how to use RSS feeds with the Microsoft web browser, Internet Explorer (IE). Here is a key paragraph:
Finding RSS feeds
In the IE feed reader’s properties, you can set the browser to play a sound when a feed is found for a Web site. Additionally the orange icon in the toolbar will glow. So, as you surf the Web keep an eye, or ear, out for these indicators. Finding feeds is simple with sites like Technorati, a popular blog search engine. Some legal RSS feeds to get you started include ABA Site-tation, Law Practice Today and the ABA Journal . Additionally, Justia offers RSS feeds for federal district court dockets. Simply run a search by party, district, and/or lawsuit type. When the results page loads, click on the RSS icon in the browser toolbar to add the feed to your reader. Once you begin using feed readers you will see that this is just the tip of the iceberg for this great technology.
October 15, 2011
Sig Block with Better Formatting
Our attempt to fit the model signature block into our regular posting space produced terrible results yesterday, as the standard text block size used at this website was too small, resulting in very poor formatting.
To better do justice to Mr. Fisher's conception, we have reproduced the signature block in a separate document.
October 14, 2011
The Art of the Signature Block
Edited October 14 to incorporate various improvements, including breaking the model signature block out into a separate document, for improved formatting:
A good email signature block can add surprising value to an agency ethics program. Savvy lawyers in private practice may devote considerable attention to ensuring that their signature block sends exactly the right message. Not all government ethics officials take the same level of care. For better or worse, marketing the ethics program is a part of the ethics function.
Jack Fisher, an ethics specialist with the Forest Service, understands this far better than most. His signature block is one of the best we've seen, advancing his agency's program in multiple ways. A careful study of his signature block may suggest numerous options to upgrade your own. A copy is available at this site in MS Word format. Thanks to Mr. Fisher for agreeing to allow us to distribute his work in this way.
Do you have a good signature block that others might find useful? Please follow Mr. Fisher's example and share with your colleagues.
Notes: We edited Mr. Fisher's signature block to reduce exposure to spam, etc. We have reproduced the signature block using a fixed pitch font, to reduce the chance that the spacing will be thrown off in translating it to Web format, but depending on your choice of computer fonts, you may experience some irregularity. We assure you, Mr. Fisher's original is perfect in every detail.
June 09, 2011
Another Hatch Act E-Mail Case
A June 8 OSC press release describes a new enforcement action:
OSC’s complaint, filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), charges the employee with violating the Hatch Act by sending eight e-mails to numerous recipients that were directed toward the success or failure of candidates in the 2008 Presidential election. The e-mails were sent while the employee was on duty and in the federal workplace. The employee used her government e-mail account to send the messages, each of which featured her official government title. In addition, one of the employee’s e-mails, which she sent to 20 recipients, included a request for financial contributions on behalf of a Presidential campaign. OSC’s investigation showed that the employee knew or should have known about the Hatch Act and its restrictions.
April 26, 2011
Use of Social Media for Work Purposes Increasing Steadily
An article in Government Executive states that more than half the government's management-level employees use Facebook, and of them, most use it for work.
The 2011 Federal Media and Marketing Study revealed a significant "surge" in the use of social media, with Facebook being the most popular social media tool.
The survey conducted found twenty-six percent of the federal workers who responded said they use Facebook to communicate with colleagues, 17 percent said they use it to communicate with the public, 8 percent said they use it to communicate with other agencies and 4 percent said they use it to recruit.
The article in its entirety can be found at this link: http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=47445&oref=todaysnews
March 27, 2011
Loss of DOJ Torture Memos
Nextgov.com on the missing Department of Justice "torture memos":
As for the torture memos, after a search, Justice Department investigators were "able to locate additional e-mails on backup tapes and a server that were not examined during the course of OPR's investigation," Justice records management chief Jeanette Plante wrote to NARA Feb. 4.
"That said, we have not and cannot determine whether an unauthorized destruction of records occurred," she said.
"In light of the fact that over seven years has passed since Yoo left the department and Philbin left OLC, it is impossible for us to determine whether technical issues caused the loss of the e-mails or whether they were deleted by an individual," Plante wrote.
The disappearance of the memos illustrates an intersection between technology/records management and ethics issues. The absence of the memos created suspicion of unethical behavior, at a minimum.
We have created a new "Category" called "Technology and Ethics" for archiving posts on related topics.