Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

Hat tip to Zagula on Tufte's new book on bad PowerPoint presentations.
IMHO, blaming PowerPoint for bad presentations is a little like blaming Word for your essay not being Shakespearean. Or Outlook for long turgid email. Or MovableType for a boring blog.
The darn thing is a tool and you can really misuse it. No doubt about it. Kind of amazing how widely used the tool is though. Mentioned in Powell's book on his career in the military, in the Nasa analysis and of course essentially every school in America now uses for everything.


  1. Actually a lot of PowerPoint’s (and Microsoft Word’s) problems are intrinsic to the tools themselves.
    E.g. Word makes it harder to use style sheets than ad hoc styles (this is equivalent to encouraging the user of bold tags in html and discouraging the use of heading tags).
    Powerpoint’s typography is bad. Given that this is 95% of what PowerPoint has to do well, that’s a very bad start.

  2. Yes, but if you read the piece, it is not about typography, it is about the idea that it is PowerPoint’s fault that buried on a slide is the fact that the test strike was 3,000 times smaller than the actual one on the Discovery.
    That isn’t PowerPoint’s fault. You can bury a fact using anything.
    BTW, I agree the style sheets are really bad in Word. Never did work precisely right, but the main point is that summarization is a bad thing so you should have lots of data.
    If you read the Tufte point, he absolutely loves a chart with 1,000 numbers.

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