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I must choose my company's default PowerPoint presentation template.

Having in mind that this template should be versatile, and that people want to create presentations quickly, should I create a template with light or dark background? Which is more usable.

I must say I'm inclined to light, because it might be easier to read black text and because it is easier to use with white background images (no Sales guy will look for an image with transparent background, that's for sure. I've seen very ugly stuff). But, are there any cons to using a light background? Please help me.

Note: I'm talking about day-to-day presentations. Not a presentation for a conference that would take you 20+ hours to prepare.

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For presenting in darkened rooms/environments I use dark backgrounds, if presenting in normal light I use light backgrounds, I would choose whichever would be most likely within your company. – bendataclear Oct 16 '13 at 12:50
My company has both, so the user can choose which fits their use case and content better. – Rumi P. Oct 16 '13 at 12:59
@RumiP. There's a problem with having both templates: it is hard to reuse content between slides. If it's just text, you can just change the color. But when you start adding graphics, tables, etc. it gets time consuming. – John Assymptoth Oct 16 '13 at 13:05
This is not a UX question - it's a visual design question. If it is better on the eyes light or dark is visual design. It's more important what is in the presentation and how you present it than the colours. – Stewart Dean Oct 16 '13 at 14:09
@StewartDean: This is a UX question. Although the "better on the eyes" is important as well, I'm interested in: which is easier to use/ customize by the end-users? – John Assymptoth Oct 16 '13 at 15:09

I'll choose light background and dark text. Some reasons:

  • it's more conventional
  • it better suits for printing
  • it supports easy conversion and interchange between Word, Excel, browsers, which are keep format settings in copy-paste operations
  • it could help with some projector and whitescreen issues

As @StewartDean said, color usage question could be more appropriate to the visual design community.
But I see here other context, more close to user experience. As was stated by @JohnAssymptoth,

I'm talking about day-to-day presentations.

As many presentations are built using some sources and supplemental materials, users switch between windows, which contain those sources. Frequent switching between contrast screens could be too exhaustive for a users' vision and lead at least to performance decreasing. I've added two screens, sorry if it's too aggressive.
enter image description here .
enter image description here

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It's funny how I always think white letters on black background are easier to read... Is it just me? – John Assymptoth Oct 16 '13 at 21:34
@JohnAssymptoth there is an article on the readability of inverted color schemes. Also pay attention to more efforts for formatting text for inverted schemes. – Alexey Kolchenko Oct 17 '13 at 9:20

I would recommend:

  • Use light backgrounds to facilitate the use of graphs and tables without the ugly white border or getting into too complicated transparent png
  • Pay attention to your palette, the contrast of the background and the font should be good
  • Check that your font is not very thin
  • Ensure the font is not very small - if it's small it won't matter if the background is light or dark
  • Ensure the colors work fine for people with color blindness, there are cases where 2 colors might look ok but for color blind people they look almost the same color
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I agree, and would like to add to points 2 and 5: try the colors on a projector, not just the screen. Your basic fresh green turns into an eye-burning illegible blob, but your conservative bordeaux red might turn out barely distinguishable from black. – Ulrich Schwarz Oct 16 '13 at 13:47

Neither one or the other .... Not one background for all of your slide

Change with the context ...

Have a look of this presentation I think you will have a lot of answers ...

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I love that presentation, don't get me wrong. But, if you're in a hurry, you don't have time for all that. – John Assymptoth Oct 16 '13 at 21:31
Notice how in that presentation it is told to use 30 hours preparing the slides... Just no. I was precisely thinking about that presentation when I wrote: "Note: I'm talking about day-to-day presentations. Not a presentation for a conference that would take you 20+ hours to prepare." – John Assymptoth Oct 16 '13 at 21:32
I agree it is difficult applying all advises. But what I am sure day to day or not we are all submerge by slides so the most important advice to apply One slide One message....and ask you self what do you want your listners retain about your presentation .... – pierre lebailly Oct 21 '13 at 16:43

Use the corporate identity color palette

With a good effort and skill you can make both alternatives look very good. But: A truly professional presentation represents you or your company. Think about it. Somebody is called professional when he is really good at his craft. Show it to your audience by colors and shapes that represent your work. If there is a logo or an unique corporate identity, use it. The designers have most probably put a thought in it.

When designing your presentation, keep the points in mind made by Alexey Kolchenko in his answer. Lighter colors may be more convenient. +1 to that

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