Perceptions of Clarity and Attractiveness in PowerPoint Graph Slides

Jo Mackiewicz, Iowa State University

This article is published as Mackiewicz, J.,Perceptions of Clarity and Attractiveness in PowerPoint Graph Slides. Technical Communication 2007,54(2);145–156. Posted with permission.


This study examined 37 participants’ perceptions of PowerPoint slides that displayed bar graphs. It examined perceptions of the clarity of graphs displaying two-dimensional and three-dimensional bars. Accounting for participants’ cultural background, the study also examined perceptions of the attractiveness of bar graphs displaying different color combinations, particularly warm and cool colors. The results show that technical communicators should use two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional bar graphs, saliently contrast slide background color with graph area colors, and favor cool colors, such as blue and green, over warm colors, such as orange and yellow, for graph slides.