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The Psychology of Color in PowerPoint Presentations

  • April 12, 2013
  • Kevin Lerner

The Psychology of Color in Presentations

Discover how the colors you choose for your PowerPoint presentations can guide the emotional response of your audience.

What are the best colors for a powerpoint presentation it all depends on who your audience is and what you want them to feel.

When used correctly, color can help audience members sort out the various elements of a slide. But its power goes beyond mere clarification. To some extent the colors you choose for your visuals guide the emotional response of your audience.

Blue: The most popular background color for presentation slides

Psychology of Blue

Blue is one of the most common background colors. It’s calming and conservative, which is why it’s very popular with business presenters, as well as for for trainers. Studies have shown that blue has the power to slow our breathing and pulse rates. Dark blue backgrounds with light text are great for conservative corporate no-nonsense presentations. Lighter blue- more common in re cent times- work well in relaxed environments with the lights on, and help promote interaction.

Examples of BLUE in Presentations

Examples of Blue in Presentations

  • Quest Diagnostics: A serious company with a seriously navy blue background. The subtle angled lines promote a feeling a movement and technology. Blue complements the Green of Quest’s logo, and the white title bar provides a clean but stark contrast to the body.
  • This blue template for waste management firm Republic Services provides a conservative backdrop for the financials and white bullet points. The yellow titles stand out, as does the orange, red and blue themed imagery at the bottom, not to mention the company’s logo.
  • This slide for Dr. Soram Khalsa’ Complementrix Vitamin system features a template with a dark blue with angled lines. And the inner portion of the template featured a light blue-hue burst of a sun-ray to convey bright life and energy.
  • This slide for Lender Direct featured an image of a file folder, edited in Photoshop, with a 80 % transparency set against a light blue background. The light blue graphic helped to convey a sense of openeness , and professionalism, while maintaining the company’s blue brand.

Green: Stimulates interaction and puts people at ease

Psychology of Green

Green stimulates interaction. It’s a friendly color that’s great for warmth and emotion. Green is commonly used in PowerPoint presentations for trainers, educators, and others whose presentations are intended to generate discussion. It’s also a great color for environmental and earth-oriented discussions.

Examples of Green in Presentations

Examples of Green in Presentations

  • This slide for Hills Pet Nutrition features a modern green background with textured lines promoting a warm, but contemporary feeling. Great for their topic on pet affection.
  • Money is green and so is this presentation for Presidio Finance. The white text contrasts nicely with the forest green finance images, helping to project a no-nonsense image of success and accomplishment.
  • In this slide for TD Waterhouse, we created top title bar in dark green, integrating smoothly with their lime green logo. The green-hued process chart on the slide image stands out comfortably against the textured grey background.
  • The flowing green arcs at the bottom and green title text helps substantiate this slides message of health and vitality. Executive Success Team’s green logo and brand also promotes a relaxed and comfortable feeling, just like Mona Vie.

Red: Handle with Care in Presentations!

Psychology of Red

Red is one of the most influential colors in your software palette — but it also carries negative cultural attachments, so use it carefully. Red is also a great color for conveying passion. Or talking about the competition. Do not use Red in financial information or tables and charts.

Examples of RED in Presentations

Examples of Red in Presentations

  • The rich red of Oracle is maintained in this template, featuring red title text in an inset red rectangle and a red bottom bar of binary numbers for a look of blazing edge technology
  • Trace Security uses a similar red title bar element, tying in to their black and red logo and brand.
  • Red and black are also colors for Sales Training Consultants, and in this slide, we used a flat beige background, with a title bar in bright red together with red bullets and a red target graphic.
  • The body pages of the Grenada presentation feature Red, but in an inset border. Text is inversed in white, as is the main body area. The key states in this map are highlighted in red.

Purple: Mystical and Emotional color in presentations and design

Psychology of Purple

Purple is often associated with royalty and wealth. Purple also represents wisdom and spirituality. Purple does not often occur in nature, it can sometimes appear exotic or artificial. Nearly all the clients who come to me with presentations featuring purple or lavender are women. It’s a feminine color and it’s a good color for emotional or spiritual presentations.

Examples of Purple in Presentations

Examples of Purple in Presentations

  • Crosley & Company’s branding is maintained with a dominant dark purple background, and orange titles.
  • A soft lavender background option gives these two medical doctors a chance to add some warmth for their mostly women audiences.

Yellow, Orange, & Gold: Attention-getting colors of affluence and prestige

Psychology of Yellow

Yellow can create feelings of frustration and anger. While it is considered a cheerful color, people are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow rooms and babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms.

Since yellow is the most visible color, it is also the most attention-getting color. Yellow can be used in small amount to draw notice, such as key words, or highlights but not in backgrounds. Rather than using flat yellow as a background color, consider a more “golden” or orange color. Simply adding texture to a yellow background or superimposing a photo (in Photoshop) with low transparency, can add more richness to the yellow background image.

Examples of Yellow / Gold in Presentations

Examples of Yellow in Presentations

  • This flat yellow slide is for Web-Reach, an internet consulting firm in Miami. Even though their message was to compete with the Yellow Pages phone book, their yellow background was flat and uninspired.
  • With a simple fix in Photoshop, yellow became Gold, and the same slide became more robust. We added a red bar to the top, and a grey arc to the left. Same information, just a textured golden hue helped deliver elegance and style.
  • A golden textured earth background helped this slide convey the message of international elegance. The green money background blends with the gold, and the black text brings a nonsense message to the page.
  • A golden textured background for Fountainhead Consulting with elements of yellow, blue, red, and grey.

Black: A strong and definite color that’s often overlooked!

Psychology of Black

Don’t forget your basic black. Often overlooked, black is a background color with useful psychological undertones. Its neutrality makes it a good backdrop for financial information. Black connotes finality and also works well as a transitional color which is why the fade to black transition is powerful, as it gives the impression of starting fresh.

Examples of Black in Presentations

Examples of Black in Presentations

  • It’s a matter of black and white for this construction company. It’s intro slides were pure white text on a black background, emphasizing the company’s core beliefs. After the 3 b&w slides, the room lit-up with a series of dynamic colorful slides as the speakers enlightened the audience.
  • Over 10 years old, this slide from Ryder transportation remains one of the strongest visuals. Set against a flat black background, the company’s grey logomark conveys a true sense of stability and no-nonsense action. The monotone building blocks tell a strong story.

White: Pure, Fresh and Clean. But a little boring.

Psychology of White

White is also a calm and neutral color for presentations. It’s terrific for conveying a fresh start such as a fade to white. It represents purity or innocence. Good for positive information where you want the focus purely on the message, and not competing with a brand image. It’s clean/open and inviting and can create a sense of space or add highlights. But it can also be perceived as cheap, flat (it’s the default color for PowerPoint slides) and harsh on the eyes. Consider grey as a better background color.

Examples of White in Presentations

Examples of White in Presentations

  • To help to maintain a clean and open look this consumer collaborative called on us to integrate their brand colors set against a plain white background. The blue and orange bars provided a conservative frame, while the arcs provided a contemporary look of flow and motion.
  • This slide for a large architecture and construction firm featured a flat white background offset by a colorful series of modern buildings and logos.

Grey and Silver: A conservative color; Good when Black or White won’t work.

Psychology of Grey

According to psychologists, grey is often thought of as a negative color. It can be the color of evasion and non-commitment since it is neither black nor white. Some say that Grey is the color of independence and self-reliance. A few years ago, silver was the most popular color for cars. And in the presentation world, this calm color is making a comeback. Grey (or “Silver”) is a softer background than the harsh default color of white, and works well on almost all presentations. A dark grey background with light text…or light grey background with dark text…you can’t go wrong!

Examples of Grey in Presentations

Examples of Grey in Presentations

  • Farmers Insurance’s silver background integrates subtle ray of light elements to help add depth and texture to this slide. The red, blue, and black stock images blend comfortably with the rest of the page. And the white border around the letters add a level of modernism and clarity.
  • The stainless steel background of this slide helps promote a modern contemporary look, helping to link the 4 brands together.
  • A clean flowing blue arc with a non-obtrusive silver background help make this slide for Margie Seyfer appear fun but conservative
  • Interim Healthcare’s brand is maintained, but a muted image in silver help add depth and dimension to the slide’s message, while supporting its key points.

arrange-colors-dark-to-light

We perceive dark colors as being “heavier” than light ones, so graphic elements that are arranged from darkest to lightest are the easiest for the eyes to scan. On charts, it’s best to arrange colors from dark to light.

Remember that most eyes aren’t perfect. Because color perception deficiencies are common, certain color combinations — including red/green, brown/green, blue/black and blue/purple — should be avoided.

color , powerpoint , powerpoint tips , presentation design , psychology of color , style

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How to Choose the Best Colors for Your Presentations

How to Choose the Best Colors for Your Presentations | Quick Tips & Tutorial for your presentations

Choosing colors for your slides is one of the most crucial decisions to make even before starting to work on your Google Slides or PowerPoint presentation. Basically, colors can help you communicate your message more effectively, and they can evoke many different feelings or emotions on your audience. Keep reading to find out how to choose the best colors for your presentation.

Color Psychology

Color temperature, neutral colors, some tips on how to combine colors for your presentation.

It is quite important to know how your audience perceives colors and how these are related to the topic you are talking about. For example, red can convey a sense of danger, but also love, depending on the context. These are some common connotations that colors have on humans:

  • Red : Evokes passion and strength. It’s an energetic and intense color that represents power and determination. It’s usually present on brands related to beverages, gaming and the automotive industry.
  • Blue : Conveys a sense of security, confidence, responsibility and calmness. It is the most representative color in the healthcare and finance industries.
  • Yellow : This is the color of light. It is a stimulating color that conveys energy, awakes awareness and inspires creativity. You will surely find yellow in the food industry.
  • Green : Undeniably, the color of nature, life and peace. This color conveys a sense of growth, balance and stability like no other. It is quite popular among big companies, especially in the energy and tech industries.
  • White : It is considered the color of purity and innocence. When it comes to evoking simplicity, optimism and integrity, white is second to none. You will find it for sure in the healthcare industry, and it is making its way in the fashion industry too.
  • Black : Even though black is associated with seriousness, it can also convey elegance and courage. Fashion brands and luxury products make good use this color.

Take note of these hints and try to choose the color that best suits your message. For example, in this template we used bright and vibrant colors, since it is an education-themed presentation intended for a very young audience:

A presentation with bright colors

Click here to download this template

Colors can be grouped based on their temperature , which can be determined by comparing any given color in the visible spectrum with the light that a black body would emit when heated at a specified temperature. So, according to their temperature, there are two groups of colors: 

  • Warm colors: These range from red and orange to yellow. If you click on the footer below, you will be able to download one of our templates containing a palette full of warm colors:

A presentation with warm colors

  • Cool colors: These range from green and blue to violet. Again, click on the footer below to download a template that contains cool colors:

A presentation with cool colors

Mainly, warm colors convey energy and optimism—it is like giving a warm reception to your audience. On the other hand, cool colors are associated with serenity and confidence, just what you need to have a peaceful time.

White, black and all shades of gray are not considered neither warm nor cool. In fact, we could say colors such as creme, beige, brown and others with a high amount of gray are also neutral.  These colors do not influence others and can actually be combined with almost any color. As for their meaning, elegance and solemnity are pretty much guaranteed, as well as harmony.  When combining neutral colors, oftentimes a bright color is used as a contrast to highlight certain elements and bring them to the front. Click on the footer below to see an example of a presentation with neutral colors: 

A presentation with neutral colors

To achieve a nice color harmony and make the most of it, it is best if you take into account the color wheel, as well as the concepts of hue, saturation and brightness. 

  • Hue is basically what differentiates a color from any other. Thanks to the hue, you can visually tell apart red from blue, for example.
  • Brightness defines how light or dark a hue is, and measures its capacity to reflect white light.
  • Saturation refers to how pure a hue is. A saturated color appears more vivid, whereas a desaturated color looks duller.

Color wheel

With this information, you can make several different combinations: 

  • Monochromatic Color Scheme: These contain different shades of a single color. Click on the footer to see one of our monochromatic templates based on red.

A presentation with a monochromatic color scheme

  • Complementary Color Scheme: These are composed of a pair of opposing colors on the color wheel. If you click on the footer below, you will be able to download a presentation template with this scheme.

A presentation with a complementary color scheme

Analogous Color Scheme: This scheme includes colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Click on the footer to see an example of this scheme applied to a presentation: 

A presentation with an analogous color scheme

Triadic Color Scheme: This uses three colors equally spaced on the color wheel. Click on the footer to download a presentation that makes use of the triadic color scheme.

A presentation with a triadic color scheme

In order to get the best combination, you will need to consider how many colors you will use in each slide and how you will manage the contrast between them. These should also be suitable for your intended message or your brand.   Finally, try not to overuse very intense colors—use them only for emphasis. Keep everything consistent by applying the same color to each instance of an element within your presentation (for example, use the same color in all the titles). Include illustrations or pictures that work well with the chosen palette. If you need to apply filters to the pictures, you can refer to our “ How to Apply Filters to the Pictures in Google Slides ” tutorial, or its PowerPoint equivalent. Some of our templates include color variants, making it so much easier for you to adapt them to your topic and/or brand. Just click one of the options that you will find below “Themes” on the right side of the screen. 

Selecting color variants in Slidesgo

Selecting color variants

best color for presentation

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How To Choose The Best Colors For Your Presentations

Get your team on prezi – watch this on demand video.

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Kelly Morr July 05, 2016

It’s no secret that humans are visual creatures, but few know how much of an impact the colors that make up those visuals have on how we feel and respond to information. Our color associations are not merely preferences, they’re also influenced by culture and evolution. For instance, it’s thought that humans have an aversion to brown because of its associations with rotting produce, and red catches our attention because it’s a universal sign of heightened emotion. Presentations that are not only visual but also thoughtful when it comes to color, have a better chance of effectively communicating their message. In this article, we’ll share some of our top tips for putting together a powerful palette.

Setting the Mood

In order to choose your presentation colors, start by determining what mood you’re trying to set. Is the message supposed to be exciting? Perhaps it’s intended to keep people calm during a time of high tension, or maybe it’s full of important information that will require your audience to stay alert and attentive throughout. In any case, try using the guide below to help you select the right starting point for your color scheme.

2015%2F12%2F29%2F19%2F37%2F48%2Fded1952d-080e-47dc-b0fd-76a386312d04%2Fsquares-colors

A Dash of Color Theory

Once you’ve used mood to determine your base color, you can move on to choosing the rest them. At 99designs , we use a color wheel and a bit of color theory to help us out. Consider one of the following themes:

07-Color-harmonies

Monochromatic : one color in multiple shades or hues.

A monochromatic theme will give your presentation a feeling of harmony and be visually pleasing to almost everyone. If this were a food, it would be spaghetti with meatballs: it’s a classic and when done right it can be amazing, but even not done right it’s pretty hard to offend anyone or make it terrible.

Analogous : two colors right next to each other on the color wheel, you’ll want to pick different shades or hues of these colors, as well, for contrast.  

This approach adds a nice level of variety, but is still fairly safe. This is good for helping people pay attention and take in complicated topics without overwhelming them. If this were a food it would be enchiladas: it has a little spice, but it’s still a pretty safe thing to serve at a dinner party.

Complementary : two colors across from each other on the color wheel, again, with a couple shades/hues of each.

This will get attention! When we see complementary colors next to each other, it overloads our brains. This sort of scheme is best used when you definitely want to make a splash. If this type of theme were a food it would be screaming hot chili: some people are going to love it, but it may be too spicy for others.

Triadic : three colors equally spaced around the color wheel, with small variations in shade of two colors.

This is a color scheme for advanced color users. When done right, it can guide where people look, creating balanced and visually compelling presentations, but it’s also really easy to mess up. Triadic themes are chocolate souffles: gourmet, delicious, will win you praise from almost anyone, but are super hard to make right. One tip to keep in mind is giving each color a purpose. For example, one color should be more muted to ground viewers and the other two should be intentionally used as accents.

Careful Application is Key

When you’ve got your palette together, remember to use it to direct attention rather than steal the show. For example, see how the monochromatic theme below was applied to the dinosaur illustration. From left to right, the first color was used for headlines, the second for body text, the third for background, and the fourth and fifth are accent colors.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.07.08 AM

Dinosaur designed by kelinciedan for andrew nm.

Also, remember that accent colors should be used sparingly. Try using them to draw attention to the most important parts of your presentations, such as the 1-3 key takeaways you want people to remember.

Next, we’ll be back to talk about how to use typography in presentations. Stay tuned!

best color for presentation

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How to choose the best colors for your presentation

Learn the best colors for business presentations to evoke emotions, brand your presentation, and highlight data.

Emily Branch

Building presentations

best color for presentation

What makes white text on blue pop while neon green text on red makes you cringe? Colors matter, even if they’re not the primary focus of your presentation. The right colors direct your eye, evoke emotions and brand your presentation. But the wrong colors distract your audience and hurt your message.

Want to know the best colors to use in your next presentation?

We’ll walk you through six tips design experts agree on for building presentations that are attractive, easy to read, and visually unique.

Key Takeaways:

  • Build your color palette around your brand color
  • Some colors evoke specific emotions or encourage an action
  • Use complementary colors that contrast rather than conflict
  • Stick with three to four colors in your presentation, so you don’t overwhelm the audience

6 tips for choosing the best colors for presentations

Use these tips to help you choose colors that fit your presentation’s message and your brand when creating presentations for your business.

1. Consider your company's branding

Your company’s color palette is the best place to start when choosing colors. Business presentations usually have the logo in a corner, tucked away, so it doesn’t distract from the slides but is still visible for consistent company branding .

The colors you use on the slides should work with the logo and brand colors. Complementing the colors is easier on the eye and connects the message to the company’s branding .

HubSpot’s branding subtly reveals itself in all of the company’s imagery. A recent slide set on social media shows how the company ties in its signature shades of orange without overpowering the presentation. Anyone who sees this presentation and is familiar with the brand knows it’s from HubSpot without seeing a logo.

best color for presentation

2. Evoke emotions with colors

Colors have meaning and evoke emotional responses. Think about how many news stations incorporate red, representing action or emergencies.

But when looking for a financial institute, you won’t see many using a color associated with danger. Instead, you’ll primarily find greens and blues, which relax customers and help them feel more trusting.

The color you choose for your presentation should match the emotional response you want to achieve.

Here are some emotions associated with common colors according to marketing color psychology:

  • Blue: Sincerity, honesty, down-to-earth
  • Pink: Creative, imaginative, trendy
  • Green: Reliable, intelligent, successful
  • Purple: Sophisticated, luxurious, charming
  • Yellow: Outdoorsy, rugged, cheerful

Keep in mind that the psychology of color in marketing isn’t consistent. Your audience’s emotional response depends on their cultural upbringing, brand exposure, and personal experience.

For example, if you show green and yellow to three people, one might think of sports and the Green Bay Packers. The second person would think of John Deere and farming. The third person may think of Subway and food.

So, while you can consult color meanings when designing your presentation, you don’t have to fit your color scheme within a box. ‍

3. Highlight actions with colors

Colors can also highlight the actions you want your audience to take. If you’re training staff on dos and don’ts, you might list the do’s next to green dots and don’ts next to red dots because of the color association.

You can also use colors to help specific ideas stand out, like putting each page's call to action in a different text color. Consider highlighting each section’s main point with a different color as well.

4. Combine color groups

Colors fall into two primary groups: warm and cool colors. You want to avoid mixing colors from these groups as they tend to contrast (and not pleasantly). Just imagine staring at red text on a blue page or green text against an orange background.

For combinations that are easy on the eye, create a color palette for your presentation’s design using colors in the same group. A pleasant combination would be blue, purple, and gray. These three colors blend well together without fighting for the eye’s attention. ‍

best color for presentation

5. Improve the text’s readability

Colors will either make up the foreground or background. Text and images in the foreground are information your audience will see and read. Meanwhile, shapes and background colors fill in the empty space.

When choosing colors, you want to keep the foreground information, especially text, separate from any background colors and images.

Using a light and dark contrast is the best way to help your text stand out. Black text on white, white text on a navy background, and dark green text on a beige background are all light and dark contrasts within a color group that work well with each other.

Contrasts also keep text visible for those who might have color blindness. So, even if they don’t see the individual colors, they can still read the text because it’s a different shade.

What you want to avoid are colors that are hard on the eye. For example, you don’t want to use neon green as a text color as that is challenging to read, even with a dark background.

Neutral colors are best for professional presentations. These help the audience quickly read and digest complex business data.

6. Stick with one color scheme

Once you’ve chosen your color scheme, stick with it throughout your presentation. The background, text, and headline colors should remain consistent throughout all your slides.

Generally, stick with no more than three or four colors in one presentation. This ties the entire presentation together and limits the noise that might distract from your central message.

Find color combinations that work

There are so many color combinations and options—how can you choose which one will work best?

Instead of guessing, work with the Prezent platform to create stunning business presentations in a fraction of the time. Our 35,000+ templates are pre-designed with color combinations that are attractive to the eye and easy to read.

With Prezent’s collaborative media library, you can also upload your company’s logo and colors to receive customized slides that fit your branding style. Switch out the look and feel of your presentation in just a few clicks for 100% brand-compliant slides every time. Ready to learn more?

Schedule a demo to see the full potential of your next business presentation.

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best color for presentation

By Matt Moran January 12, 2023

22 Best PowerPoint Color Schemes to Make Your Presentation Stand Out in 2023

There’s nothing worse than an amateur PowerPoint presentation. If you’re going into a business meeting or sales pitch, your presentation slides should look as professional as you do. That’s why choosing the right color scheme is so important.

In this post, we’ll be sharing a roundup of 22 of the best PowerPoint color schemes you can use to make your presentation look the part. 

All the color schemes on this list have been incorporated into templates created by professional designers, so they’re super-stylish and guaranteed to make your slides stand out.

Whether you’re an educator looking for a color scheme that will keep your students engaged, or a business professional who wants to make an impact in your next meeting, you’re sure to find something suitable below.

Tips for Choosing the Best PowerPoint Color Schemes

Before we jump into the roundup, let’s talk about how to choose the right color scheme for your needs. Here are a few things to bear in mind when you’re comparing your options.

1. Use High Contrast Colors

When it comes to color, contrast is the number one most important consideration. Text, icons, and other important graphics on your slides need to be highly readable, so you need to make sure to use high contrast colors for these elements. 

In other words, use a color with a significantly different tone/brightness from your background. Certain colors are inherently lighter/darker than others. For example, blue is much darker than yellow. As such, these colors tend to pair well together.

I’d also recommend never combining warm and cold colors, like bright red on bright blue or vice versa. This is because human eyes have trouble distinguishing interactions between the different wavelengths, which causes eye fatigue.

2. Consider Color Associations (Psychology)

People have certain subconscious associations with different colors. For example, people associate blue with trust, calmness, and reliability, which makes it a safe choice for business presentations. 

Green is associated with nature, peace, and organic products, which might make it a good choice if you’re working on a sales pitch for an eco-friendly product. 

Black evokes sophistication, seriousness, evil, and mystery, so it can work just as well for spooky Halloween lesson PowerPoints as for high-end fashion brand presentations.

Try to choose a color scheme that fits the kind of associations you want to make. If you’re working on a brand PowerPoint presentation, a safe bet is to stick with your brand colors.

3. Always Use Gradients

In nature, colors rarely appear in solid blocks – they transition gradually from one hue to the next and blend into each other.  

Because we’re used to seeing colors naturally act this way, you should try to do the same in your PowerPoint presentations by blending colors into each other using gradients. Blocks of solid color can look amateurish. 

The good news is that all the templates on this list are designed by professionals who understand this and therefore use natural color gradients to create a professional look.

4. Choose the Right Color Scheme for Your Screen Type

Finally, don’t forget to consider the screen you plan on showcasing your PowerPoint presentation on. Darker color schemes will look good on close-up screens like tablets and desktops. However, lighter colors work better for projections as they tend to be more readable. 

In particular, never use red text if you’re projecting your presentation onto an external screen, as if any kind of unwanted ambient light/glare hits the screen, the color will wash out. In fact, it’s best to avoid any brightly colored text if you’re using a projector.

22 Best PowerPoint Color Schemes

Alright, let’s jump into the list. Below, we’ve listed our top 22 favorite PowerPoint templates with awesome color schemes.

1. Shades of Grey and Yellow – Our Top Pick

best PowerPoint color scheme

If you’re looking for a darker color scheme to use for a business presentation, you can’t go wrong with the Hornette template. Darker shades of grey and black strike a serious tone that befits a corporate environment, which is offset by bold yellow highlights. 

We like how the high contrast between the darker shades and the bold yellow can be used to direct the readers’ gaze to the most important elements on the page and make key messages stand out. 

The template itself includes 50 slides, including a gallery and portfolio slide, and features creative layouts and useful graphics. All graphics can be resized and edited.

2. Teal and White

second best powerpoint color scheme

Teal is a color that blends blue’s dependability with green’s optimism and healing properties. The result is a calming, balanced color that’s packed with personality. 

This multipurpose PowerPoint template uses teal alongside plenty of whitespaces and is perfect for business and personal presentations. All elements are fully editable, and if teal and white isn’t your style, you can pick another of the 5 included premade color schemes included. 

3. Shades of Black

black powerpoint color scheme

Dark themes are very on-trend right now. If you want to add a touch of sophistication to your presentation or strike a serious tone, you can’t go wrong with this Halbert PowerPoint template. 

The all-black color scheme looks slick and elegant, and the white text is highly readable. This template works best when you don’t have to worry about room lighting, and might be a good fit for fashion presentations.

4. Color Fun

multi-colored powerpoint template

If you want something a little more upbeat, try this Color Fun PowerPoint template. It uses a wide color palette, which can help provide enough variety to better organize the different sections and elements on your slides. 

It’s bright, upbeat, and sets a positive tone – without being too overwhelming. The designer has toned down the colors just enough that they’re not distracting and won’t cause eye fatigue.

5. Monochromatic Blue

blue powerpoint color scheme

This Tortoise PPT template uses a mix of light and darker blues to create a stylish, professional look. The download includes 150 slides in total, split into 5 colors (30 slides per variation). All graphics included are fully editable and resizable in PowerPoint. 

6. Minimalist Light Colors

minimalist powerpoint color scheme

Bold and bright colors can work well but sometimes, it’s best to keep things simple. This clean and modern PowerPoint presentation follows the principle of minimalism, with very light shades like beige and pale green. It comes in a 1920x1080p format and includes a bunch of awesome icons and graphic elements that are fully vector editable.

7. Orange Burst

best orange powerpoint color scheme

Orange is the most vibrant color in the color spectrum. It’s full of energy and life, so it’s perfect when you want to really get your audience excited about the contents of your presentation. This PowerPoint template from aqrstudio uses orange gradients alongside circular icons and graphics.

8. Yellows and Whites

best color for presentation

If you’re looking for a yellow template, check out Soaring by Jumsoft. It features an energetic, professional design and includes 20 master slides in the standard 4:3 side, as well as charts, diagrams, tables, and other awesome visual elements. You can choose the layout that’s most suitable for your content and customize more or less everything in MS PowerPoint.

best color for presentation

Pastels are the color trend of the year. These lighter, softer shades of colors have been embraced by younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z and have rapidly become associated with self-care for their ‘calming effect’. If you want to incorporate them into your PowerPoint color scheme, check out this pastel template by UnicodeID.

10. Organic Greens

green powerpoint color scheme

Working on a food-related presentation for a culinary business? Or perhaps you’re putting together a pitch deck on an environmental topic? Either way, this organic green PowerPoint template has the perfect color scheme for you. It’s ideal for health and nature-related slides.

11. Bold Red and Black

best color for presentation

The NOVA PowerPoint template by Artmonk uses a stunning red-on-black color scheme. It’s a bold color combination that packs a punch, so it’s great for presentations in which you’re trying to break the mold and make a statement. It’ll look great on screens but might not show up well on projector displays due to the dark background.

12. Bright Multicolor

best color for presentation

Here’s another awesome multi-colored palette that’s upbeat and fun. Wide color palettes like this are great for large slide decks as they give you a lot of options to choose from. I can see this one working really well for creative agencies and personal portfolios. 

13. Lime and Dark Blue

best color for presentation

Blue and yellow is a classic combination. This lime and dark blue template offers a new twist on that classic combo to make it a little more exciting. If you already use dark blue as part of your brand color palette, this is a great template to use.

14. Pretty Pink

best color for presentation

The Pretty Pink color scheme is perfect for creating feminine and youthful PowerPoint presentations. This would be perfect for female-oriented business products, or presentations about beauty, pop culture, and more.

best color for presentation

Teal is the perfect color scheme for exuding wealth and intelligence. In color psychology, green connotes wealth and money, whilst blue evokes intelligence. Teal is the perfect blend of the two colors, which makes it a great choice for financial presentations and documentation.

16. Dark with Splashes of Color

best color for presentation

If you want a luxurious and ultra-modern color scheme, Black with splashes of color is just the ticket. The black creates a sleek and professional feel, whilst the bold and colorful highlights make the key information in your presentation pop.  

best color for presentation

Coral is a bold and vivid color scheme perfect for making an impact on your presentations. This PowerPoint template utilizes coral as the background of each slide which helps the text and other visuals to really stand out.

18. Classic Blue and White

best color for presentation

If you’re looking for a clean, modern, and professional color scheme for your PowerPoint presentations, you can’t go wrong with classic blue. The color scheme evokes professionalism and technological prowess and is perfect for tech businesses and startups. The Contact PowerPoint from Envato Elements is a great example of how this color scheme can be used.

19. Pinks and Purples

best color for presentation

Pinks and Purples is a vibrant and feminine color scheme that would work perfectly for beauty brands and retail stores. The colors are bold and inviting and have a luxurious feel. This Beauty Care template from Envato Elements utilizes this color scheme as well as unique shapes to make for a visually interesting presentation.

20. Winter Watercolors

best color for presentation

Winter Watercolors is a great color scheme for festive presentations. The muted, blue, and green cold tones are easy on the eye and evoke a homily feeling. This would be perfect for creating slideshows for Christmas parties or other winter-themed events.

21. Coral Highlights

best color for presentation

Unlike the last coral color scheme we looked at, which used a coral background with white text, this template uses mostly white slide backgrounds. Coral is used much more sparingly to highlight key elements on the slide. This gives the PowerPoint a more relaxed and feminine touch.

22. Primary Colors

best color for presentation

This Primary Colors color scheme is perfect for adding a vibrant touch to your presentations. This color scheme is a modern take on the classic colors of red, yellow and blue, and would be perfect for creating fun and engaging business presentations.

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30+ Stylish PowerPoint Color Schemes 2024

Color is an element that can make or break a design, and that rule holds true for presentation design as well. Choosing the right PowerPoint color scheme is super important.

But there’s one extra thing to consider – where your presentation will be given. A PowerPoint presentation can look quite different on a computer or tablet versus on a projected screen.

When it comes to selecting a PowerPoint color scheme, this is an important consideration. We’ve rounded nearly stylish PowerPoint color schemes as inspiration. While darker color schemes might look great close-up on screens, opt for lighter backgrounds (for enhanced readability) for projected presentations.

Note: The last color in each scheme is for the slide background.

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1. Blue, Gray Green & Orange

powerpoint color schemes

With a bright overall scheme that’s easy on the eyes, this color scheme can help you create a modern PowerPoint presentation that’s readable and friendly. You can even tweak the colors somewhat to better work with your brand, if necessary.

The best thing about this color palette is that it lends itself to plenty of different presentation styles and applications.

2. Violet Gradient

powerpoint color schemes

Using the first two colors noted above, you can create a dark-to-light monotone gradient that can make for a modern PowerPoint design style.

Take this concept and expand it to any other colors you like for your spin on this modern color scheme.

3. Mint and Orange

powerpoint color schemes

On paper, these colors don’t seem to blend all that well, but with the right application min and orange on a black background can work.

Use a pair of colors like this for presentations where you are trying to make a bold statement or impact. This concept is often great for trendy topics or ideas that are a little unconventional.

4. Bright Blue and Light

powerpoint color schemes

The brighter, the better! Bright blue color schemes are a major trend in PowerPoint design … and for good reason. The color combination creates a bright, light feel with easy readability. Those are two things that pretty much everyone wants in a presentation template design.

The other thing that’s great about a color scheme like this – which focuses on one color – is that it matches practically everything else in the design with ease. It’s great for image-heavy presentations or those where text elements are a key focal point.

5. Teal and Lime

powerpoint color schemes

Two colors that you might not expect to see paired create a classy combo that’s interesting and engaging. Both teal and lime are considered “new neutrals” and work with a variety of colors easily. (What’s somewhat unexpected is putting them together.)

What’s great about this PowerPoint color scheme is that the extra interest from the hues can help generate extra attention for slides. The template in the example also mixes and matches teal and green primary color blocks to keep it interesting from slide to slide.

6. Colorful Gradients

powerpoint color schemes

Gradients are a color trend that just keeps reinventing and resurfacing. In the latest iteration, gradients are bright with a lot of color. Designers are working across the color wheel for gradients that have more of a rainbow effect throughout the design, even if individual gradients are more subtle.

What you are likely to see is a variety of different gradients throughout a project with different colors, but maybe a dominant color to carry the theme. Use this for presentation designs that are meant to be more fun, lighter, and highly engaging.

7. Light Blue Minimal

powerpoint color schemes

This color scheme with light blue and a minimal aesthetic is super trendy and so easy to read. You can add a lot of style with a black-and-white style for images or a deep blue accent for header text.

While a pale blue is ideal here, you could also consider experimenting with other pastels and the same overall theme for a modern presentation design.

8. Bright with Dark Background

powerpoint color schemes

The combination of bright colors on a dark background can be fun and quite different from the traditional PowerPoint color schemes that are often on white or light backgrounds. This design style for a presentation is bold and engaging but can be a challenge if you aren’t comfortable with that much color.

When you use a style like this, it is important to think about the presentation environment to ensure that everything will look as intended. A design like this, for example, can work well on screens, but not as well on a projector or in a large room.

9. Navy and Orange

powerpoint color schemes

The navy and orange color combination is stylish and classic for presentation design. To add a fresh touch consider some of the effects such as the template above, with color blocking and overlays to add extra interest.

What makes this color combination pop is the element of contrast between a dark and a bright pair. The navy here is almost a neutral hue and works with almost any other design element.

10. Dark and Light Green

powerpoint color schemes

A modern take on a monotone color scheme involves using two similar colors that aren’t exactly tints and tones of one another. This pairing of dark green and light (almost minty) green does precisely that.

What’s nice about this color scheme is that the colors can be used almost interchangeably as primary elements or accents. It provides a lot of flexibility in the presentation design.

11. Bright Crystal Blue

powerpoint color schemes

Blue presentation color schemes will always be in style. The only thing that changes is the variance of the hue. This pair of blues – a bright crystal blue with a darker teal – works in almost the same way as the pair of greens above.

What’s nice about this color palette though is that the dark color is the accent here. That’s a modern twist on color design for presentations.

12. Blue and Yellow

powerpoint color schemes

Blue and yellow are classic pairings and can make for a striking presentation color combination. With a bright white background, these hues stand out in a major way.

What works here is the element of contrast. A darker blue with a brighter yellow creates an almost yin and yang effect with color. The only real caution is to take care with yellow on a white or light background with fonts or other light elements.

powerpoint color schemes

Teal is a personality-packed color choice. If you are looking for a bold statement with a PowerPoint template, start here.

While the above color scheme also includes a hint of yellow for accents, the teal color option is strong enough to stand alone. You could consider a tint or tone for a mono-look. It also pairs amazingly well with black-and-white images.

Teal is a fun color option that will provide a lot of practical use with your slide deck.

14. Bright Coral

powerpoint color schemes

This color scheme is one of those that you will either love or hate. The bright coral color is powerful and generates an immediate reaction.

It’s also quite trendy and will stand out from many of the other more bland PowerPoint colors that you may encounter. This is a great option for a startup that wants to present with a bang or a brand that has a similar color in its palette. It may not work so well for more traditional brands or those that are more conservative with their slide designs.

15. Dark Mode Colors

powerpoint color schemes

A dark mode color scheme might be the biggest trend in all of design right now, and that also applies to presentation design.

This purple and emerald color paired with black with white text looks amazing. It is sleek, modern, and has high visual appeal without having to use a lot of images.

This works best for digital presentations when you don’t have concerns about room lighting to worry about.

If you aren’t ready to jump into dark mode on your own, the Harber template above is a great start with nice color, gradients, and interesting shapes throughout the slide types.

16. Navy and Lime

powerpoint color schemes

A navy and lime combination is a modern take on colorful neutrals that are anything but boring.

These colors have a nice balance with a white or light background and are fairly easy to use. With so many brands already using blue in their base color palette, this is an option that works and is an extension of existing elements for many brands. (Use your blue and add the lime to it.)

Also, with this color combination, the idea of a minimal overall slide structure is nice so that the power of the colors and impact comes through. They work beside images in full color or black and white.

17. Modern Blue

powerpoint color schemes

When you aren’t planning to use brand colors – or maybe as a startup or independent contractor so you don’t have them yet – a modern color combination can add the right flair to a PowerPoint presentation.

The bright grayish-blue in the Lekro PowerPoint template – you can find it here – adds the right amount of color without overwhelming the content. Plus, subtle orange accents help guide the eye throughout this PowerPoint color scheme. https://elements.envato.com/lekro-powerpoint-presentation-67YW3M

18. Blackish and Yellow

powerpoint color schemes

While at first pass, black and yellow might seem like a harsh color combination, it can set the tone for a project that should emanate strength. This PowerPoint color scheme softens the harshness of the duo with a blackish color, that’s grayer and has a softer feel.

Pair this combo on a light background or with black and white images for a stylish, mod look.

19. Orange and White

powerpoint color schemes

A bright color can soften the harshness of a stark PowerPoint design. Especially when used for larger portions of the content area, such as background swatches or to help accent particular elements.

The Sprint template makes great use of color with a simple palette – orange and white with black text – but has slide ideas that incorporate the color throughout for something with a more “designed” look to it. (And if you aren’t a fan of the orange, change the color for use with this template to keep the modern feel.)

powerpoint color schemes

Purple presentations are in. The color, which was once avoided by many in design projects, has flourished with recent color trends.

Because more funky, bright colors are popular, a presentation with a purple focus can be acceptable for a variety of uses. The use in Batagor template has a modern design with a deep header in the featured color, which works best with images that aren’t incredibly bold in terms of color.

21. Blue-Green Gradients

powerpoint color schemes

Another trending item in color is the use of gradients. This trend can be applied to PowerPOint presentations as well.

Use a blue-to-green gradient for a soft and harmonious color scheme that won’t get in the way of content. Use each hue alone for accents and informational divots throughout the presentation design.

22. Black and White

powerpoint color schemes

Minimalism is a design trend that never goes away. A black-and-white (or gray) presentation screams class and sophistication.

It can also be easy to work with when you don’t want the color to get in the way of your message. And if a design can stand alone without color, you know it works.

23. Reds and Black

powerpoint color schemes

If you are designing a presentation for viewing on screens, such as desktops or tablets, a dark background with bright color accents and white text can work well. (This combination gets a lot trickier on projector displays.)

While reverse text and red aren’t always recommended, you can see from the Nova template that they can be a stunning combination. But note, this modern color scheme is best for specific content and audiences.

24. Blue and Pink

powerpoint color schemes

This color scheme is a spin on Pantone’s colors of the year from 2016. https://designshack.net/articles/graphics/how-to-use-the-pantone-color-of-the-year-in-design-projects/ The brighter, bolder versions of rose quartz and serenity and fun and sophisticated.

The unexpected combo sets the tone with a strong, trustworthy blue and adds softness with the paler pink. The colors work equally well with white or darker backgrounds.

25. Blue and Green

powerpoint color schemes

Blue and green accents can help a black or white background come to life in a presentation template. The colors here can work with either background style, based on how you plan to display your presentation.

What’s nice about these colors is that they are pretty neutral – since both are found in nature – and can be used with ease for design or text elements in a PowerPoint color scheme.

26. Beige and Gray

powerpoint color schemes

If you are looking for a softer color palette, consider beige and gray. These hues can work well on screens or projected, making them a versatile option.

The nice thing about such a neutral palette is that it gives content plenty of room, so that will be the true focus of the presentation.

27. Tints and Tones

powerpoint color schemes

While the purplish blue-gray in the Business PowerPoint Presentation template is stunning, it represents a greater trend in presentation design. Pick a color – maybe your dominant brand color – and use tints and tones for the presentation color scheme.

By mixing the color with white or black and gray, you’ll end up with a stunning set of color variations that match your messaging.

28. Bold Rainbow

powerpoint color schemes

While most of the color schemes featured here only include a color or two, bright color schemes with wider color variations are trending.

This distinct “rainbow style” can be somewhat difficult to use without rules for each color. Proceed with caution.

29. Bright Neutrals

powerpoint color schemes

Lime green is the brightest “neutral” you might ever use. A fun palette that’s versatile can be a solid foundation for a color palette.

It works exceptionally well in the Rouka PowerPoint template thanks to a pairing with a subtle gray background. Using a light, but not white, background can be great for screens and projected presentations because it takes away some of the harshness of a white background. The subtle coloring is easier on the eyes for reading and viewing.

30. Rich Browns

powerpoint color schemes

Browns aren’t often what comes to mind when thinking of building a color scheme, but rich browns can be a modern option.

Pair a neutral beige-brown with a darker color for an interesting contrast that works with almost any style of content.

31. Mint Green

powerpoint color schemes

Go super trendy with a modern and streamlined palette of mint green and gray on white. While this combination can have a minimal feel, it also adds a touch of funkiness to the design.

Add another hint of color – think orange – for extra accents.

32. Dark Gray and Blue

powerpoint color schemes

It doesn’t get more classy than a combination of grays and blues. This new take on a classic color scheme adds another brighter blue as well to pick up on modern trends.

Just be careful with text using a dark background such as this one. White is probably your best option for typography (and look for a font with thicker strokes!)

  • Design , Inspiration , Lists , Presentation Design , Presentation Trends

The 7 Best Color Combinations for Your Next Presentation Design

  • By: Michael Dyer

Whether you’re a new presentation designer or a seasoned pro, I’m sure you’re familiar with the impact that color can have on a design. Today we’re going to look at the 7 best color combinations for your next presentation design. 

Color evokes emotion. It can inspire, create intrigue. Because color can be so influential, color is one of the most powerful tool at your disposal as a presentation designer.

With almost 18 million colors out there, the color scheme options for your next presentation are just about infinite. But don’t worry. We’re here to help.

Foundation: Color Theory and Color Wheel  

If you’re just looking for colors, you can scroll on – but if you really want to understand the why behind each of these color schemes, keep reading.

Color theory

What is Color Theory, well the IDF says that “Color theory is the collection of rules and guidelines which designers use to communicate with users through appealing color schemes in visual interfaces.”  

In basic terms – Color Theory is the science of using color to communicate.  

Color wheel

Did you know that Isaac Newton invented the color wheel? When he was 23… While that makes me feel like a failure on a personal and professional level, I’m truly grateful he created it. Here’s why:  

best color for presentation

Newton understood how color was defined by human perception and how it came together to create eye-catching combinations, resulting in him creating the primary, secondary, and tertiary color categorizations:

Primary colors : red, yellow, blue

Secondary colors : orange, green, violet (created by mixing primary colors)

Tertiary colors : red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet (created by mixing both primary and secondary colors)

To get started, let’s split the color wheel in half. You’ll start to notice that there is a distinction between warm colors (reds, oranges, and yellows) and cool colors (blues, greens, and violets).

Warm colors typically convey sentiments of energy, brightness, or life whereas cool colors convey sentiments of calmness, grounding, or serenity.

Color Combinations

There are three basic color combinations that you need to understand.  

Complementary Color Combinations are the colors that sit on opposite sides of the color wheel. Combining these colors creates an effect of high contrast. Due to the high levels of contrast, they’re typically pretty eye catching.  

best color for presentation

Analogous Color Combinations are every two to five colors that sit beside each other on the color wheel. These color combinations create a sensation of balance. Typically one of these colors sits in the background, while the other more dominant color sits in the foreground. 

best color for presentation

Triadic Color Combinations or Split-Complementary are spaced evenly throughout the color wheel and tend to be more rich or vibrant in color. This color combination is typically dynamic, creating a harmonious visual contrast that pops when combined. Create a triangle on the color wheel and you’ll find your 3 triadic colors. 

best color for presentation

Understanding the universal perceptions and relationships of colors is key to being a great artist or designer.

So here’s our list of the 7 best color combinations for your next presentation design.

Note: Naming colors is less of a science than color theory is, so we took inspiration for OPI’s nail polish names and went a little wild with these.  

1. The “Hip Tech” Combination  

Once you start looking for these purples mixed with these oranges, you’ll notice them all over the place. And for good reason, they look great together!  

best color for presentation

2. The “Fun at the Beach” Combination  

Definitely a bit more playful than the first, but we’re expecting to see more and more pastels come into play in 2023, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing #DCF3C4 show up in a pitch deck near you.  

best color for presentation

3. The “Australian Summer” Combination  

A pitch deck? Sales demo? New branding guidelines, our team loves this color set and we think you should too.  

best color for presentation

4. The “Gen Z’s Easter” Combination  

As we mentioned, pastels are coming back in a big way. And we think the Gen Z’s Easter could really take flight.  

best color for presentation

5. The “Cool April Nights” Combination  

Is it just me or do you want to bust this out on your next deck, illustration, and re-paint that boring room in your house all of these colors?  

Just me? Ok.  

best color for presentation

6. The “Logistics Company but Cooler” Combination  

I’m going to say it – if you’re a company that does logistics or you’re a new map app, I’ve almost completed your new branding for you. That green and blue with those pinks, you’re welcome.  

best color for presentation

7. The “This Presentation is Going to Win a Prize on Behance” Combination

We believe in saving the best for last – and while there’s a bunch of winners on this list – I think the diversity of this color combination along with where design in 2023 is going- this could be the winner.  

best color for presentation

If you’re curious what a team of professionals could do with any of these color combinations or with your brand guidelines, let us know! We’d love to work with you on your next deck!  

Michael Dyer

Michael Dyer

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best colours in powerpoint

  • By Illiya Vjestica
  • - January 26, 2023

What are the Best Colours for Your PowerPoint presentation?

Choosing the best colours for PowerPoint isn’t as black and white as it seems. Many factors go into picking a powerful palette – involving everything from your audience’s emotions to your talk’s cultural context and, of course, to how your slides look.

Suppose you’re taking it as seriously as you should. In that case, you need to consider all of these when deciding on your colour scheme – as nailing this aspect of your presentation’s design will help you to communicate your message in the most impactful way possible. Interested? Let’s get stuck in.

Complementary colours

colours powerpoint

It would help to consider contrast when picking two or more colours for your presentation.

Contrasting colours are valuables when it comes to heightening the visual effect of your slides. They’re instantly impactful – reeling your viewers in by drawing their eyes to the screen. Also, they enhance your slides’ other elements – such as any fonts or tables used – increasing their visibility when used correctly. There’s a reason why black is nearly always paired with white and blue with yellow or orange. Together, they create a powerful impression… and it’s all thanks to contrast.

There’s a simple way to discover contrasting colours, and that’s by using a simple colour wheel. With this tool, you can easily see which colours are the opposite of which… helping you to refine your palette and ensure your presentation has colourful clout.

It also helps to follow the 60-30-10 colour rule . It’s generally for interior decorating but can support picking a colour scheme.

What Colours should not be used in PowerPoint?

When choosing colours for your slides, it’s important to create a contrast between the background and the text. I recommend avoiding using light text on a light background.

For example, a yellow background with white text often makes the text difficult to read. Likewise, with yellow text on a white background, it’s challenging to see.

Make sure your presentation content can be seen at the back of the room. You can use a colour contrast checker to ensure you have a strong contrast ratio to ensure your slides will be readable. This will help make your text more readable and provide a clear contrast between the text and background of your slides to enable your audience to follow along easily.

What are the Most Popular Colours for PowerPoint?

Here are some of the best colour combinations in PowerPoint. You can choose to experiment with your own as well.

Red & Black

red black powerpoint colour scheme

Black & Yellow

yellow black powerpoint colour scheme

Others include:

Blue & Yellow

Black & White

Orange and blue

Yellow and purple

Black and white

The selection method is slightly different for more complex presentations using three or more contrasting colours (triadic colours, for those who want to know). Pick three equally distanced colours around the colour wheel to choose the best complementary shades. These colours should, again, work beautifully together – providing that perfect contrast you crave.

Popular triadic choices include:

  • Orange, green and purple
  • Yellow, blue and red

Generally, we wouldn’t advise throwing a fourth colour into the mix – or more, besides. While using bright colours can have a wonderfully eye-catching effect on your PowerPoint slides, using too many at once could make them too “busy” – overloading the audience and detracting from the potential power of the colour combinations you’ve used. Adhere to the cliche “less is more”, and your simple yet striking presentation should speak for itself.

Colour psychology

colour psychology

You’re probably already familiar with the basic principles of colour psychology. Essentially, it’s been said that specific colours have set effects on people – specifically, causing them to feel a particular way. For instance, red is purported to inspire anger, blue to calm, and yellow to feel joy.

While there’s something to be said for this, colour psychology (as many people understand it) isn’t a flawless theory for one big reason: emotions aren’t quantifiable! Therefore, we can’t honestly claim that specific colours create the same feelings in every person – everybody’s different, and shades carry unique meanings for most of us.

You want to tap into your audience’s context of specific colours and other psychological and physical factors that may come into play. This is where the true magic of colour psychology lies. By understanding what influences your audience when it comes to colour – and knowing which colours are paired up with which emotions and responses in their lives – you can design something that sings. For instance, did you know that while, in Western and Japanese culture, the concept of love is associated with the colour red, it’s symbolised by the colour blue in African culture and yellow in Native American?

You can also your colour choice to the theme of your presentation. More on that later.

Know your audience. Get to know what inspires them, and let that influence your palette. It could make all the difference.

Colour symbolism

colour symbolism

So, now you know to look into contrasting colours and your audience’s association with them. But we’re missing one major factor: you. What colours reflect you the best?

There are two ways that you can approach figuring this out. The first is straightforward: looking at your brand’s existing design. If you have a strong image already – of which colours will doubtlessly play a role, used on your website, logo and elsewhere – this is where you should start when designing your presentation. After all, these colours are already associated with you, so using them will create a strong link between your PowerPoint and the rest of your materials. Further, use colours so your audience can recognise you more quickly, and your presentation should look more professional. There are a lot of pros.

Option two requires a bit of decision-making. Suppose your brand doesn’t have any firm affiliations to colour already. In that case, you should consider which colours are associated with what in the context of your presentation and overarching brand ethos. Similarly to the colour psychology we’ve discussed, these hues will help you communicate your message clearly (and colourful). Some colour combinations are considered classic. They go together

Some popular colour associations include:

  • Green – nature, the environment
  • Blue – the ocean, sadness (referred to as “the blues”!)
  • Orange – warmth, autumn
  • Red – anger, love, energy

So: what are you talking about? Are there any clear colour associations to that topic already? Drill down to the heart of your presentation’s message, and choose the colours that reflect that the most.

One final thing. Once you’ve discovered your “essential” colour – whether that’s the colour that’s most strongly associated with the topic of your presentation or the colour that you’re hoping will have the biggest influence on your audience – make sure to make it the strongest colour on your palette (for instance, the background of your slides). This should ensure it delivers the impact you’re hoping for… levelling up your talk. Perfection.

Over to Hue

We know that we’ve given you a lot to think about, but if you’re ever feeling confused over colour, remember that it all boils down to the following factors:

Your brand + your audience’s colour associations + visual effect = the best palette

Once you’ve nailed this equation, the rest should come quickly. Good luck!

Choosing the right colours is one thing – putting together a presentation your audience will never forget. That’s another. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help your slides shine.

Illiya Vjestica

Illiya Vjestica

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Monochromatic Color Scheme

How to Choose the Best Colors for Presentations

Choosing colors for your slides is one of the most important decisions to make even before you start working on your Google slides or PowerPoint presentations. Basically, color can help you convey your message more effectively and can evoke many different feelings or emotions in your audience. Read on to learn how to choose the best colors for your presentation.

Color Psychology

It is important to understand how your audience perceives colors and how they relate to the topic you are talking about. For example, red can convey a sense of danger, but it can also convey love, depending on the context. These are some common meanings of colors to humans:

  • Red : Evokes passion and strength. It’s an energetic and intense color that represents power and determination. It’s usually present on brands related to beverages, gaming and the automotive industry.
  • Blue : Conveys a sense of security, confidence, responsibility and calmness. It is the most representative color in the healthcare and finance industries.
  • Yellow : This is the color of light. It is a stimulating color that conveys energy, awakes awareness and inspires creativity. You will surely find yellow in the food industry.
  • Green : Undeniably, the color of nature, life and peace. This color conveys a sense of growth, balance and stability like no other. It is quite popular among big companies, especially in the energy and tech industries.
  • White : It is considered the color of purity and innocence. When it comes to evoking simplicity, optimism and integrity, white is second to none. You will find it for sure in the healthcare industry, and it is making its way in the fashion industry too.
  • Black : Even though black is associated with seriousness, it can also convey elegance and courage. Fashion brands and luxury products make good use this color.

Take note of these hints and try to choose the color that best suits your message. For example, in this template we used bright and vibrant colors, since it is an education-themed presentation intended for a very young audience:

Color Temperature

Colors can be grouped based on their temperature , which can be determined by comparing any given color in the visible spectrum with the light that a black body would emit when heated at a specified temperature. So, according to their temperature, there are two groups of colors:

  • Warm colors:  These range from red and orange to yellow.

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  • Cool colors:  These range from green and blue to violet.

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Mainly, warm colors convey energy and optimism—it is like giving a warm reception to your audience. On the other hand, cool colors are associated with serenity and confidence, just what you need to have a peaceful time.

Neutral Colors

White, black and all shades of gray are not considered neither warm nor cool. In fact, we could say colors such as creme, beige, brown and others with a high amount of gray are also neutral.

These colors do not influence others and can actually be combined with almost any color. As for their meaning, elegance and solemnity are pretty much guaranteed, as well as harmony.

When combining neutral colors, oftentimes a bright color is used as a contrast to highlight certain elements and bring them to the front.

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Some Tips on How to Combine Colors for Your Presentation

To achieve a nice color harmony and make the most of it, it is best if you take into account the color wheel, as well as the concepts of hue, saturation and brightness.

  • Hue  is basically what differentiates a color from any other. Thanks to the hue, you can visually tell apart red from blue, for example.
  • Brightness  defines how light or dark a hue is, and measures its capacity to reflect white light.
  • Saturation  refers to how pure a hue is. A saturated color appears more vivid, whereas a desaturated color looks duller.

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With this information, you can make several different combinations:

  • Monochromatic Color Scheme:  These contain different shades of a single color. Click on the footer to see one of our monochromatic templates based on red.

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  • Complementary Color Scheme:  These are composed of a pair of opposing colors on the color wheel. If you click on the footer below, you will be able to download a presentation template with this scheme.

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Analogous Color Scheme:  This scheme includes colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Click on the footer to see an example of this scheme applied to a presentation:

Triadic Color Scheme:  This uses three colors equally spaced on the color wheel. Click on the footer to download a presentation that makes use of the triadic color scheme.

In order to get the best combination, you will need to consider how many colors you will use in each slide and how you will manage the contrast between them. These should also be suitable for your intended message or your brand.

Finally, try not to overuse very intense colors—use them only for emphasis. Keep everything consistent by applying the same color to each instance of an element within your presentation (for example, use the same color in all the titles). Include illustrations or pictures that work well with the chosen palette.

Some of our templates include color variants, making it so much easier for you to adapt them to your topic and/or brand. Just click one of the options that you will find below “Themes” on the right side of the screen.

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Home Blog Design Color Theory for Presentations: A Detailed Guide for Non-Designers

Color Theory for Presentations: A Detailed Guide for Non-Designers

Color theory is a common conversation topic for graphic designers as its rules guide every aspect of a quality-crafted project. We can ask ourselves then: does color theory apply to presentation design? The short answer is: definitely yes.

To elevate the impact that your presentations can have, we designed this guide, intended to help people who are not necessarily knowledgeable in graphic design. We will cover in detail what color theory is, how different color schemes make a psychological effect on your target audience, recommended color schemes and pairings, and accessibility rules. Also, you can find two step-by-step examples in the final section on how to craft high-quality presentations by following these rules.

cover for color theory for presentation design guide

Table of Contents

Color properties and models

  • On primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors

Color temperature

Why do we use color theory, monochromatic, complementary, rectangle or tetradic, split complement, accessibility rules for color theory, black: luxurious, sexy & powerful, white: fresh and clean, silver: innovation and modernity, red: power, action & confidence, blue: trustworthiness, stability & safety, yellow: happiness, energy & attention, green: money, health, nature & luck, purple: wisdom, creativity & ambition, brown: strength, security & isolation, orange: uplifting, attention & energy, pink: girly and romance, case study 1: creating a presentation with contrasting values, case study 2: create a presentation for eco-friendly purposes, case study 3: create a vibrant presentation to engage your audience, final tips for proper usage of color theory in presentation design, what is color theory.

We can resume color theory as guidance on color mixing and combinations for achieving harmonious results, but to truly understand color theory, we must understand the concept of color itself.

The initial findings and research on color date back to ancient Greece , where Aristotle understood colors as “a mixture of light and darkness,” but discordances were seen in the way the human eye was able to perceive the phenomenon of color. Demokritos understood colors as the energy emitted from self-radiating objects but could not be extracted for artistic purposes. For philosophers like Plato, color was perceived after the rays emitted by the self-radiating objects collided with “pure rays” placed in the human eyes by the gods. Therefore the perception of “color” mainly depended on the properties of those rays (size, strength, and speed). 

Even if we can criticize such simplistic approaches to color perception these days, the truth is those definitions aren’t that far from contemporary concepts. The color theory formalization process started with the findings of Leone Battista Alberti, referring to the mixture of colors as an infinite process in which other hues are created, but recognized only four true colors: red, blue, green, and grey. For Alberti, white and black were alterations in different colors.

The works of Leonardo da Vinci were geared toward the interaction of light and shade, where white represented the light and black the absence of color. This formulation was adequately analyzed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666 when he observed that white light was composed of the entire spectrum of colors present in the rainbow. His experiment, made using two prisms, proved that light lacked any proper color on its own, but “color” was a human perception of the range of energies emitted when light fulfilled these three premises:

  • It had a medium for propagation: air, water, etc.
  • It involved interacting with at least two elements: an object and light.
  • It had a spectator whose rational interpretation was able to “decode” the energy into a “color.”

The direct consequence of Newton’s findings is the method by which we can analyze a color’s properties.

  • Hue : How is the color perceived (if it is blue, red, yellow, etc.).
  • Saturation : Also known as Intensity, it refers to how vivid color is. The more saturation it has, the stronger the color it will be. The lower the saturation value is, the more grayish the color would look.
  • Value : Speaks of the amount of light present in color. Colors with considerable amounts of light are referred to as Tints , whereas colors lacking light are known as Shades . 

definition of shades tones and tints in color theory

Thanks to these properties, colors can be classified according to their interaction with each other in two big models:

  • Additive color model : This is where RGB comes from. Red, Green, and Blue make the primary colors as they are the colors available in the photoreceptors of the human eyes. Since white is conceived as the combination of red, green, and blue in equal parts, any ratio alteration creates the different colors we can perceive. Hence, black is defined as the removal of the three primary colors. This theory was conceived by James Clerk Maxwell and is fundamental for any kind of visual media.
  • Subtractive color model: This model refers to CYMK, the acronym being Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and Black. It is called subtractive as the concept behind it is purely physics-based. If we take the light spectrum and mix it with pigments, certain pigments absorb part of the light spectrum before letting the light bounce. Therefore, light waves are “subtracted” from the original light source when the color reaches the viewer’s eye. For instance, white objects lack pigments; that’s why the full spectrum reaches the object and can be perceived as white. As you add more pigments, you subtract more light waves from the light source, getting to the point where an object is perceived as black (hence why the letter K is in the acronym). 

Now, these two different color perception models are applied in various mediums. As mentioned above, the RGB color range from the additive color model is used in visual media, such as computers and television. Up to 16.7 million colors can be created from this model, and the methodology for this is by mixing each channel (red, green, and blue) in a range from 0 (least saturated) to 255 (most saturated). 

The CYMK color range from the subtractive color model is used for print media in a broad range of options: paper, textile, dyes, ink, etc. Unlike the RGB mode, CMYK is heavily restricted to an estimated 16k possible colors. Since CMYK is based on pigments, the conformation of each color is expressed in percentages for each tint.

On Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

We have approached a great deal of information, but what about what the teacher told us about “primary” and “secondary” colors in school? Well, let’s blame artists for this. 

During the 18th century, discussions about color vision came to the convention that all elements were made out of three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. This was due to the belief that these three tints could mix all the other colors perceived by the human eye. The RYB model distinct red, yellow and blue as the primary colors , where the mixture of these hues produces the secondary colors : orange, green, and violet.

Tertiary colors result from mixing a primary and a secondary color but include a higher ratio of the primary color. By doing that, you end up with these colors:

  • Blue-green (Teal) = Blue + Green
  • Yellow-green (Chartreuse) = Yellow + Green
  • Red-orange (Vermilion) = Red + Orange
  • Red-purple (Magenta) = Red + Purple
  • Blue-purple (Violet) = Blue + Purple
  • Yellow-orange (Amber) = Yellow + Orange

Although lighting professionals typically coin this concept, the truth is we can classify colors by their “temperature.” For artists and any kind of visual/printed medium, color temperature is a relative concept that relates to how cold or warm a color is perceived and the psychological effects linked to it.

Why is the color temperature a relative concept? Simple, it’s strictly related to the color in proximity to it. For example, if we take a wine color sample (red-violet) and put it close to a blue-colored object, the wine color will be perceived as warmer . On the other hand, if we take that same sample and place it next to a red thing, the wine color is observed as cooler due to the presence of blue pigment.

As a convention, colors can be classified according to their temperature as:

  • Warm colors : Red, yellow, and orange hues
  • Cool colors : Blue, blue-green, and violet hues

Some colors are “in-between” as they can both be warm or cold. Examples of these are pink, green, and gray.

In a later section, we will analyze the impact color temperature has on psychology and its usage for transmitting emotions in a message.

As in any discipline, we need a framework to provide quality results. Color theory is the consequence of centuries of research made by thinkers, scientists, and artists about the behavior of color and the human psyche. 

This framework ensures we work under visually harmonic results for the desired outcome. Correct usage of color theory can elevate a design to its maximum potential. Although, we should consider that design is not the ultimate reason why the research on color and its theorization happened in the first place. In 1879 Odgen Rod published Modern Chromatics , the first scientifical publication made by a physicist about color theory taking notions from Jack Clerk Maxwell’s postulates. His work inspired the creation of a color standardization system, resumed in the 1912 book Color Standards and Color Nomenclature by Robert Ridgway.

In a different line of research, color representation was an idea often revisited during the 18th and 19th centuries. 3D shapes displayed the different hues, shades, and tints: spheres, pyramids, and cones. Eventually, the method was inefficient for any respectable academic or professional work. It was by the hand of professor Albert Munsell (creator of the Munsell Color System, still used to date) that a proper relationship between hue, saturation, and value was established. His discoveries involved a rigorous methodology in which the three color properties were expressed in percentages as a “rational way to describe color” – contrasting with the traditional (and misleading) color naming system.

Munsell’s first findings were published in his 1905 Color Atlas , improved later in the 1929 Munsell Book of Color . The impact of Munsell’s research was that his system was almost instantly adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for soil research and later on by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for the standardization of skin and hair colors in forensic pathology. Other known usages of Munsell’s system include dental restoration practices (for defining dental pieces’ tint) or comparing digital media to human color vision.

A final application of color theory and the one that mainly involves us in crafting presentations came from the findings of art theorist and artist Wassily Kandinsky . He established the nexus between colors and the effect on human behavior – a study that later evolved into the discipline of Color Psychology . His perception of the spirituality found in art is heavily used to date in marketing as specific colors were able to alter the mood of the audience. We will elaborate on this topic in a later section of this guide.

Types of Color Schemes

In this section, we will explain in detail each of the color schemes. Consider this article on color mixing for presentations as complementary information about tips for how to balance the color ratio and how to select a scheme.

monochromatic color scheme

A monochromatic color scheme applies a single color with variations in shades and tints. This kind of scheme is often found in house paint palettes, and the overall effect is consistency.

Whereas it lacks contrast to make it look “vibrant,” the monochromatic scheme is one of the preferred choices of many designers as simply you cannot go wrong with it. It takes the decision of color matching out of the scene, and you can play with different shades and tints of the same hue to make transitions, highlight an element, etc.

analogous color scheme

The analogous color scheme works with a pairing of the main color and the two directly next to it in the color wheel. One example we can take is an analogous scheme of blue with blue-green and green. 

Overall, it is a color scheme that can be applied in most scenarios without harsh dynamic range impact. Its expected usage is for logos or branding, looking for a harmonic result in which the different colors blend together to convey a message.

complementary color scheme

If you want to create an impactful contrast, this is your color scheme. The complementary color scheme uses two colors directly across the color wheel. Any other tints or shades relevant to those two colors can also be used. 

And here’s why color theory is critical when approaching a presentation design. How would you actually use the colors in this complementary color scheme? 50/50? If that’s your initial guess, you are awfully wrong.

To preserve harmony in the composition, the advisable route is to consider one color as the predominant and the second contrasting color as the accent . The different tints and shades can be used in similar proportions, always as subordinates of those two. 

The complementary color scheme is ideal for graphs, charts, and infographics. Its striking contrast makes elements outstand; thus, it’s advisable not to overload the balance between predominant and accent. One part can be colored in the accent color, then tints and shades of that color make the different points of the graph. The predominant color becomes the background for that presentation.

rectangle color scheme

The tetradic color scheme defines a rectangle area where the four corners are the selected colors for the palette. It is one of the schemes that oughts to be used with extreme caution.

As a result of this selection process, we end up with two bold tones, and two muted ones, which are secondary colors related to the first ones. To apply the rectangle color scheme, start by making one color dominant . Balance the rest of the colors as subtle accents for different sections. To avoid its overwhelming effect, you can use either black or white (depending on your selection of colors) to tone down the color explosion.

Mobile development is a fine example of applying a tetradic color scheme, where we can see menus with cards in different colors. Keep a close eye on it; you will subtly find the other three tones in each card. Companies like Google or Microsoft use tetradic schemes for their logos, as it boosts the idea of diversity and openness.

triadic color scheme

The triadic color scheme is trendy in flyers design and is also known to produce the best colors for presentations. Since all colors are equally distant in the color wheel, you get a high contrast composition; however, the best part of this color scheme is to play with the softer tints each color has as it gets closer to white.

Say you pick blue-violet as the dominant color. Yellow-green will be the color to contrast that blue-violet for a balanced look (red-orange if your take was to make it highly vibrant), so you can use either 100% yellow-green or a softer tint of it for different parts of your design. Then, the red-orange becomes a hue to add dynamism to the composition in attention-grabbing details. 

square color scheme

The square color scheme is a bolder version of the rectangle color scheme. Coining the idea of even spaces between colors, you end up with dramatic changes in hues while preserving one primary color, which is one of the reasons why web designers often pick this color scheme. 

For correctly applying this scheme, we suggest you pick the darkest hue as the dominant color , then gradually introduce the others using the 60-30-10 rule for a balanced composition. Using white or black as the predominant color is an alternative, whereas the others picked by the square color scheme make the composition pop.

split complementary color scheme

Finally, we have the Split Complement or Split Complementary color scheme, which resembles a tree structure. This scheme picks a primary color. Instead of selecting its direct complementary, it opts for a split in which the two colors are chosen on each side of the complementary color. 

This kind of scheme is ideal for infographics and presentations since you balance the high contrast of the Complementary scheme with two subtler but intense colors. The second reason why so many users are fans of this scheme is that it keeps a proper balance between warm and cool colors. 

Let’s assume red-violet is going to act as the base color . Then blue-violet can be used to enforce some shadow areas and yellow to bring life to the composition in a striking way. Since the contrast can be overwhelming, be mindful about the dosage of color you apply, and mostly: choose the base color with care . As an extra note, you can use a tint of the selected base color if you consider the chosen one is far too bold (e.g., if you picked yellow as the base color).

Color isn’t the answer to every project. Even if you consider the first step of picking the proper color scheme for your design is done, there are some extra rules you ought to check to ensure design accessibility . We cannot be more clear about this topic: if your design doesn’t follow the basic accessibility rules, all that hard work was done for nothing. Why? Let’s consider the following scenario.

You designed a presentation. The slides are done and ready to be projected for your audience. After the conference started, people in the back rows complained they could not understand what was written in your slides. Or worse: they get confused when trying to visualize graphs. And this doesn’t just affect people with visual impairments (which you should always consider when designing your slides) – different lighting conditions can hinder your own presentation performance from your workspace if the color contrast isn’t appropriate.

Therefore, we will resume the principal guidelines for accessibility that concern color theory:

  • Contrast foreground and background : To ensure your presentation is readable, apply a color contrast of 4.5:1 for placeholder text and 3:1 for titles. This also applies if the text was rasterized as part of an image. You can see the difference below between what’s considered a faulty contrast and a well-made pairing.
  • A word of caution : Please look at the font color’s overall lightness. There’s a specific reason for not using 100% lightness because it causes visual discomfort to the user.

color contrast analyzer tool

  • Don’t assume people understand color the same way: As we’ve seen above, the perception of color is subjective and can be influenced by factors that can be both psychological, physiological, or even educational. Let’s take a classic as an example. A form section that says, “Required fields are in red.” Whereas this can be simple to understand, a person with daltonism or achromatopsia (total color blindness) won’t even know where to look. Instead, use a visual cue to help the user understand where to look, such as “Required fields are marked with an *.”
  • Test designs in different sizes: Something that can be seen as balanced on a printed paper or computer screen may be overwhelming when reduced to mobile format. It’s a good practice to test the color schemes in different screen sizes to be confident users can read and understand our content, regardless of the medium they use.

Psychological effects associated with effective color theory application

Even though the naming is relatively recent, color psychology is the discipline that understands the relationship between color and human interaction. So significant is the importance for this study area that food packaging doesn’t happen accidentally, as improper color usage can alter how you perceive that food. Marketing, interior design, gaming industry, graphic designers , and so many other industries apply the guidelines of color psychology in their daily production to grant consumer satisfaction. 

This section will explore the intrinsic messages that color can transmit and how our presentations can benefit from that.

color psychology of the color black

As an easy term, black can be understood as the absence of color. People can also interpret black as the lack of light or the technical fact that black can absorb the entire light spectrum.

Since we can analyze the color meanings by its positive and negative associations, we start with the positive feelings oozed by the color black. It is a direct message of sophistication and luxury. People instantly associate black with the color of tuxedos, black limos, and many spy-themed movies. 

The black color also speaks of power, and it’s not without a cause, as court dresses historically have been black. Banking institutions reserve the black color for their premium members’ cards.

Negative connotations of the color black are feelings that evoke depression. This can be easily fixed by a sound, contrasting presentation color palette.

Opt for a black-themed presentation if you wish to transmit exclusivity, a VIP product or service for your audience. Gold accents work perfectly for this kind of topic, although somewhat cliché. Instead, you can work with ochre and coffee tones with subtle white accents to make the design tridimensional. Use texture images, such as carbon fiber, to reinforce the message of something luxurious that can elevate the customer’s standards.

Word of advice: not all black colors are precisely “black” – You can find warmer blacks, which work best with ochre tones, and cooler blacks that get along best with silver/gray hues.

white color psychology

White speaks of purity, of something clean and innocent, hence why it is the main color picked for wedding dresses, baptisms, or hotel bedding. White also transmits minimalism, which is why nordic styling often pairs warm wood with matte white finishes for table lamps or furniture. It has a conveyed message of austerity.

As a color, technically speaking, is the full spectrum of light without being bounced. Therefore, white can be understood as a blank state, a new beginning of sorts. Its simplicity makes easier the effort to craft a presentation, so that’s the reason behind many users opting for classical white-predominant themes.

Negatively speaking, white can evoke bad feelings for those who have photophobia (intolerance to harsh lights) due to its striking contrast. Remember the recommendation above for not using pure 100% lightness in the white text? The same applies here for backgrounds unless you have a keen desire to hurt the spectators’ eyesight. Lower the value of white to 80-90% if your presentation is going to be purely white-based, and use 100% lightness for accent details if you prefer.

Pure white can also be perceived as dull, so pairing it with another hue is necessary for specific industries for quality presentation design.

silver color psychology

Silver or gray (depending on whether it resembles a metallic look) is a color of grace and modernity. It transmits a message of a change of direction, as light can bounce off it. Hence, professionals use it not just for technological aspects but also mental health as you feel all mental blocks are getting lifted.

It is a color often associated with wealth – its direct relationship with the silver metal – and thanks to being shiny, clean, and alluring, it is associated with everything modern and hi-tech. 

Whereas it can be seen as a perfectly balanced color, it can easily be misused and fall under the bland side of the color spectrum. Melancholy and loneliness are negative feelings sometimes associated due to the lack of a prominent hue on them. Don’t be fooled by such a statement as there aren’t two equal grays in the world: put two gray color samples side by side, and you’ll notice the subtle differences in hue.

It is a color that dignifies, speaks of maturity, and a well-organized scenario. The corporate world uses this color in almost every scenario without even relating that embedded message, and at the same time, it reinforces the meaning. 

red color psychology

In color psychology, the primary colors are the ones that transmit the most powerful messages. Red conveys the fiery energy that fuels power and confidence. It is a color with a duality no other hue can express, and we will analyze why.

On a positive note, red is associated with love and passion. The image of a woman wearing a red dress or holding a red bottle of perfume not just seeks to evoke passion but to present the woman as a confident person, capable of making her own choices to shape her future. She is the coveted element of desire, not by her sex but by the ideal of power she can transmit. 

Traditionally, red is the color of power in cultural scenarios. The Academy Awards attendants and nominees walk over the “red carpet.” Political parties use the color red for their logos. Anyone who sees the color red can instantly associate with the brand Ferrari and their Cavallino Rampante logo. 

Physiologically, red is powerful enough to produce these physical effects:

  • Elevate blood pressure
  • Enhance metabolic rate
  • Increase heart rate
  • Induce hyperventilation
  • Increase appetite

That’s why using red is not something to take for granted. Abusing the usage of red in a presentation can cause discomfort, whereas proper usage of red makes it engaging and dynamic. Remember that red is also the color used for signage in the case of “danger,” “stop,” “fire,” and several other negative connotations.

Be cautious when using pure red as your dominant color. Sometimes it’s best to play it safer and opt for a shade or a tint not so predominant in the message.

blue color psychology

Blue is a color that instantly uplifts productivity. Commonly found in nature as in the daytime sky or water, it inspires serenity in the spectator, building confidence to become more productive. 

One of the reasons blue is so commonly used in designs is because it’s felt as something conservative. Like you cannot go wrong when using blue or pairing blue with another color. That’s another sign of how much of an intense presence blue has in our daily life that we feel natural to pair blue with another hue. 

As one of the primary colors, blue creates a strong feeling of stability and safety. Businesses, banking institutions, and health centers use blue to transmit their values of professionalism and trustworthiness. Psychologically, blue has the opposite effect to red regarding pulse rate, so it’s not unusual to find blue hues in offices requiring much concentration time. 

Negatively, blue is associated with sadness, as in the common saying “feeling blue.” Pure blue schemes can seem detached to some audiences; therefore, opt for a Split Complement , Analogous , or Rectangle color scheme to make it look attention-grabbing. Some schemes pairing blue shades with ochre, brown, or orange can transmit the message of luxury when done with subtlety. 

yellow color psychology

As the final primary color, it’s bright and intense, becoming one of its main usages as an attention-grabber. In general guidelines, we must not overuse yellow as a color in designs since it quickly builds visual fatigue. Physiologically, that has been related to the amount of lighting it emits in comparison with other colors (hence, its similar performance to white in cases of photophobia). However, we must not forget yellow can also increase the metabolic rate.

Yellow can get perception dualities as we’ve seen with red: some people find it cheerful, inspiring happiness and energy (e.g., SpongeBob SquarePants character), and others perceive it as absolutely annoying. That’s due to the attention-grabbing factor, so we must apply it carefully in presentation design.

Due to it being a stimulating color, we would recommend using tints of yellow as background color if yellow is a must. Avoid pure yellow at all costs. Some people interpret the yellow color as aggressive, and your presentation conveys the wrong message. Psychologically, it has been studied that conceited people prefer yellow color , whereas introverts react negatively to it. Instead, use a color scheme that pairs yellow with a less dramatic color, and apply yellow as the accent color of your scheme.

green color psychology

Is there any other instant connotation for green besides nature, outdoors, and ecology? Green is distinguished as a refreshing color and associated with health and eco-friendly practices.

As a combination of the steady blue and the happiness-booster yellow, green mellows the soul, taking us to a relaxing atmosphere. This is why designers create “green spaces” inside office buildings – becoming critical in dense capital cities with limited outdoor places to unplug from work. 

Historically, humanity has associated green with different values:

  • Money : Currency bills, such as the US dollar.
  • Health : There are cultural associations of the color green with fertility, eating healthy, the agricultural industry, and living stress-free.
  • Nature : The outdoors, green energy, eco-friendly organizations.
  • Luck : A four-leaf clover, casinos, winning.

On the other hand, there’s the common saying that one can be “green with envy”, or relate to motion-sickness. Thankfully, that’s not the message green transmits when used in the design.

Before applying green to your slides, remember it’s not the same message you send when using an olive green (that speaks of elegance and earthiness) as when using an aqua green (freshness, sports). Be mindful when picking the green hue and research its own meaning before using the color because you just like it.

purple color psychology

Although this color is associated with feminist movements these days, purple historically speaks of wisdom and creativity. It has an embedded message of ambition due to its cultural references to royalty and the clergy. You may ask yourself why if black is associated with the luxurious, we say that purple is the color of royalty. Well, the answer to that question we have to speak about a dye named Tyrian purple , with an insanely costly procedure that only allowed the extremely wealthy population to wear clothes in that color.

Changing perspectives, we can speak of the purple color from a creative aspect as a color that boosts inspiration. Its link to spirituality is well-documented, and one of its most controversial usages is the work of artist Francis Bacon in Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X . Also, purple is a color associated with courage. The Purple Heart medal is a military decoration of the United States awarded in the name of the US President to those wounded or killed during service. 

The shades of purple can evoke exotic perceptions, from wine to delicate flowers such as orchids to precious gemstones such as Amethyst. 

Since it’s not a color felt as natural by humans, we can create vibrant presentations on different topics that take the user away from conventionalism. 

brown color psychology

Brown is a color commonly used for outdoor adventures or to introduce all-terrain experiences in isolated places. Being the color usually associated with earth, it’s not a surprise to find the values of strength and reliability linked to the color brown, even if it’s not a color easy to manage as it leans towards both orange and yellow. 

Warmth, comfort, and security are feelings transmitted by the color brown for its close relationship with nature. That could explain why security firms opt to include brown in their branding strategies and pair it with black to enforce the importance of “securing the valuables.” 

To apply it in presentation design, it is a color that must be balanced in a complementary or split complementary scheme, preferably with a blue tint. Orange can bring far too much energy to the scene, so use the combination of brown + orange with caution (the same rules apply with brown + yellow).

orange color psychology

Depending on where its hue leans, we can say orange can be an uplifting color on an extremely attention-seeking one. The strong-red oranges are used for attention, such as in signage, whereas yellow-orange speaks of happiness, of being carefree. The “ideal” orange – such as the one in the photo above – is a color that transmits the feeling of energy, leading parcel delivery companies to use it for their marketing strategies. 

As a highly energetic color, it’s often found in uniforms for sports, mascots, energy drinks, etc. People associate orange with summer and autumn: spectacular sunsets, orange juice, flowers, and so on. For the Asiatic culture, orange is a spiritual color that speaks of meditation, leaving materialism behind and Buddha. For Americans, orange is linked to Thanksgiving and Halloween. 

Thankfully, orange is a color easy to pair in most scenarios as it blends with a multitude of colors. Still, we recommend it to mute the pure orange, opting for a sophisticated shade of it and leaving the intense orange hues as accent colors. 

pink color psychology

Last but not least, we will speak about the pink color. It is a color associated with the feeling of kindness, love, and femininity. A broad range of shades transmits different messages: whereas pastel pinks can evoke tenderness, a vibrant shade of pink such as magenta can be observed as aggressive by some audiences. 

Joyful, pink is a girly tone that makes you feel integrated. As if you achieved your most desired dreams and you celebrate the outcome surrounded by your loved ones. For artists, it is a vibrant color that contrasts with often “dull” colors such as gray and black for interesting composition values.

If you can look aside the simplistic “girl” color concept, it’s a refreshing color that instantly takes people to a feeling of inspiration and renewal. 

Case studies for color theory

In this final section of the article, we will use four different case studies to explain why some color selections are made in regard to sending the viewer a message with the presentation. Please keep in mind that most presentation templates are fully editable; therefore, if you love a design, but you don’t feel comfortable with its color range, you can change the color palette for ppt presentation by making a custom theme in PowerPoint .

This first case study involves a medium-sized company that seeks to automatize its candidate selection process for the HR department through AI technology. As not every single member in the managerial area is convinced about this idea, the HR department prepared what’s known as a force field analysis presentation . 

Thanks to the force field analysis model, the HR department presents the initiative, its driving forces (being the Pros of the initiative), and the restraining forces (the cons of this initiative) are easy to identify and represent with the help of a force field analysis slide template .

usage of contrasting color values in force field analysis template

In a Complementary color scheme, the elements that weigh on the decision are represented in two colors: sapphire blue for the driving forces and orange-red to expose the restraining forces. Since we talk about something corporative, the same sapphire blue was used for the initiative area, not influencing the palette with another color.

Conducting the analysis from a color psychology perspective, the orange-red is attention-grabbing enough for people not to ignore the cons that this project can experience over time, whilst also reflecting an energetic resistance to change. Sapphire blue, on the other hand, speaks of professionalism. Of trusting the process in the decision to make since it’s time to move on and pursue bigger horizons – and the current selection process for new personnel is both time-demanding and often not tailored for certain departments.

In our second case study, a waste management company is visiting potential customers to offer their services whilst also educating company owners on the importance of treating production waste with the care it requires. 

This next slide introduces the ecology of waste management, in which, depending on the original materials, there are multiple methods to repurpose waste rather than piling it up in open outdoor spaces.  

Usage of a monochromatic color scheme in eco-friendly presentations

The waste management presentation template used features a Monochrome color scheme in shades and tones of green. The greens used are not also randomly selected:

  • Dark green used in the title and accent effects speaks of the fact that waste can be repurposed into money, and that fact can easily become a driving force for customers to change their waste management policies.
  • Bright green in the accent sections and number of slides refers to rebirth. Of giving new life to what’s considered decay.
  • Pale green in the cogwheels and placeholder text percentages is a symbol of peace. Remembers the audience that being mindful about the final destination of our production processes is part of having a corporate social responsibility.
  • Mint green is a signal for refreshment. Of lifting taxing decisions and outsourcing from people knowledgeable in the subject.

With this case study, you can appreciate how slide color schemes can reinforce the message to transmit without filler words.

The next case study to analyze comes from a group of young software developers presenting their skills to a customer for a web design project. Despite not having a large trajectory in the industry, their team is well-balanced between experienced developers and creative designers to meet the demands of their clients.

This programming presentation template is the chosen asset to introduce their services visually compellingly while also listing their project portfolio.

using a vibrant color combination for audience engagement in presentation design

A fine example of a Split Complementary color scheme, no doubt. The color selected was yellow-red, using blue and violet as the other two colors that made up this scheme. Since yellow is far too intense, it’s left as the accent color for some sections, and the background is a darker blue leaning towards blue-violet. The vector images follow suit by combining the colors selected in the palette, using gradients and lighter tints. 

The question becomes now: what about the aqua tone? Sometimes, designers can combine color schemes inside a design to balance the overall composition. Since yellow would be too much attention-grabbing, and the presence of blues and violets is covered, there is a secondary usage of the Analogous color scheme, opting for a tint of the blue-green next to the blue color. The discrete way in which it was used brings life to the image and centers the vision in the placeholder text area. 

To conclude this guide, it is essential to answer a common question: how do I pick the colors for my slide design project?

For some people, inspiration about a word, a concept, or a product to present directly leads to the color selection of the main color – or at least an indicator of which hue would work best. Then, the selected color scheme helps to build up the entire color palette for the presentation. In some other cases, an image can become the leading source of inspiration. That’s the reason why you should check tools such as Design Seeds’ Instagram Profile or even Pinterest. 

Online tools can help us easily come up with good colors for presentations. Some recommendations for this are Coolors or COLOURlovers . Although… what if you already got inspiration from a presentation you attended but don’t know which colors were used? This incredible tool may cheer you up: Site Palette , a Google Chrome extension that gives you the entire list of colors used, with their HEX values to reproduce them in your designs.

Check out our complete tutorial on how to make a PowerPoint Presentation .

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Best Colors for Presentation Slides That Will Dominate Today’s Trends

Nurma Febriana

Nurma Febriana

  • Published on March 11, 2022

best colors for presentation slides

Table of Contents

Choosing the best colors for presentation slides is the most critical part. The purpose of selecting the best colors for presentation slides is to read the text and see the graphics or shapes on each slide.

Today, most organizations are dictating a template with corporate colors for all presentations outside the organization as part of a branding initiative. So, in the end, they have no choice in color.

Besides, we can choose the color of the slides in many internal presentations and many other organizations. Then, some attractive colors can communicate the message more effectively and evoke many different feelings or emotions in your audience.

How do you choose the best colors for presentation slides?

Here are some tips when we are going to choose the best colors for presentation slides.

One of the most common mistakes we often make in choosing the best colors for presentation slides is not having enough contrast between the colors we choose for the background and the text or graphics.

When presenting the slides, we want the audience to see text or images on the screen, so the presentation slides should have colors with good contrast. The tips choose one of two color schemes – a dark background with light text and graphics.

We can use a light with dark text and graphics. The best colors for presentation slides are that the further apart the colors are, the more contrast the colors will have.

Then, the easier it will be for the audience to see the text or graphics you’re using. Just a suggestion, to make sure that the color you choose has enough contrast, then use the online Color Contrast Calculator . This testing color calculator uses two international standard tests for color contrast.

Using the company’s template

When we work in a company or business, perhaps we have to use company template rules. These rules, of course, relate to brands, fonts, and colors. Besides, w e need to know how to choose colors when creating charts, graphs, or other visuals.

We can ensure that the chart you create in Excel follows the same colors that your organization has set in the presentation template. Even so, we need to know about the best colors for presentation slides. Then, we must also select a color to see the explanatory text above the shape or part of the graphic.

Color emotional meaning

The best colors for presentation slides can evoke different general feelings in many people by choosing different colors.

Some common definitions that color has in humans:

  • Red means a arouse passion and strength. The color red is usually for beverage brands, games, and the automotive industry.
  • Blue means to convey a sense of security, confidence, responsibility, and serenity. The color blue is most representative of the health and finance industry.
  • Yellow means the color of light. Yellow color that stimulates and conveys energy awakens awareness and inspires creativity. Yellow is usually for the food industry.
  • Green means the color of nature, life, and peace. The green conveys a sense of growth, balance, and stability. This color is popular among large companies, especially in the energy and technology industries.
  • White can mean purity and innocence to evoke simplicity, optimism, and integrity. White is popular in the healthcare industry and the fashion industry.
  • Black means seriousness, elegance, and courage. This color is for fashion brands and luxury products.
  • Orange means optimism, happiness, and energy. 
  • Purple means luxury, royalty, and creativity.
  • Brown means enduring, dependable, and natural. 
  • Beige means conservatism, piety, and dullness.

Selecting the best colors for presentation slides can avoid colors that will hurt your message.

When we study color, we will get acquainted with the term psychology of color. Color Psychology finds out how the audience views color related to the conversation.

Warm colors symbolize energy and optimism-like giving a warm welcome to your audience. There are two groups of colors based on temperature:

  • Warm colors range from red and orange to yellow.
  • Cool colors range from green and blue to purple. On the other hand, cool colors symbolize serenity and self-confidence.

Besides knowing the two-color groups above, we will know neutral colors:

  • Neutral colors like white, black, and all shades of gray, cream, beige, and brown. These colors do not affect others but can combine with almost any color. It means elegance and service.

After learning about color groupings and their types, the following color schemes we can use as a guide in choosing the best colors for presentation slides .

  • Background – dark blue (navy shade) or dark purple with text and graphics colors, white or yellow. Accent Colors, such as red, lime green, camel orange, and light blue.
  • Dark blue or dark purple background – dominant color on screen and yellow and white text and graphics. We can use an accent color to highlight a word or part of a picture.
  • Background – warm beige
  • Text and graphics – dark blue, black, dark purple
  • Accent color – dark green, burgundy

In general, dark text and graphics colors provide enough contrast to make items stand out on the screen, while accent colors are for emphasis only and should not be overused.

Combine colors for your presentation

You have to consider the color wheel and hue, saturation, and brightness concepts to achieve excellent color harmony. Here is the basis for learning about the best colors for presentation slides:

  • Hue is what sets a color apart from the rest. For example, you can visually distinguish red from blue.
  • Brightness determines light or dark color and measures its capacity to reflect white light.
  • Saturation refers to the purity of a color. Saturated colors appear more vibrant, while desaturated colors look duller.
  • Color wheel to illustrate the relationship between different colors. Primary colors, such as red, blue, and yellow. They are the basis of all other colors. Secondary colors are two primary colors: purple, orange, and green. Finally, tertiary colors combine primary colors with secondary colors, such as red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, yellow-green, and yellow-orange.

We can create several different combinations with the color wheel: 

  • The monochromatic color scheme contains different shades of one color.
  • The complementary color scheme consists of opposite colors on the color wheel.
  • An analogous color scheme includes colors close to each other on the color wheel.
  • The triadic color scheme uses three colors equally spaced on the color wheel.

Plus, we have to consider the colors we use in the slides and adjust the contrast according to your intended message or brand.

Background graphics or patterns

We must be careful when creating slides with graphics or patterns to choose the best colors for presentation slides because it has areas with a background color that change color from dark to light or from light tonight.

When we use a chart or pattern, it should be subtle. So there is still a slight difference between the lightest shadow and the darkest shadow in the background. One of the effects that we often use for graphics or logos is the embossing effect.

The embossing effect causes it to lift against a backdrop, and the result is very subtle and doesn’t cause any significant changes to the shadows of the background color. Choosing suitable background graphics or patterns is one way to select the best colors for presentation slides.

See also: Make Green Your Favorite Color with Our Best Environment PowerPoint Templates

Get the best picture with a projector.

Once we’ve chosen the best colors for presentation slides, the next step is to notice that the slides look good if we connect them to a projector or screen. We need a port on the laptop to connect to the projector. 

Here are the most common devices we need, such as:

The laptop has a full-size HDMI port

If your laptop has a regular HDMI port, you can plug in an HDMI cable to connect to the projector. We can use this HDMI to VGA adapter if the projector does not have an HDMI cable but a VGA cable.

If the HDMI cable to the projector cannot reach the laptop, we can use an HDMI extension cable and an HDMI F-to-F adapter to connect the extension cable to the projector cable.

The laptop has a mini-DisplayPort

We need an adapter to connect the projector cable to the laptop. In addition, we can also use an HDMI cable. We also need some outputs like HDMI, VGA, and DVI.

The laptop has a USB-C port

If our laptop or computer has a USB-C port, then. We need an adapter that offers a video output and a charging port. If our laptop/ computer only charges, it only needs a USB-C port.

See also: 20+ Color Tools for Designers to Help You Creating PowerPoint Color Schemes

Keep simple.

The best colors for presentation slides are that we keep it simple and don’t use too many colors. We use only three to four colors for a presentation.

Rule 60-30-10

The way to create a balanced presentation is to follow the 60-30-10 rule . It will produce the best colors for presentation slides. Suppose we’ve chosen three colors, as recommended above. In that case, you should use 60 percent of the space for the primary colors, 30 percent for the secondary colors, and 10 percent for the accent colors on the presentation slides.

Share Content

In addition to choosing the best colors for presentation slides, we also need to share content with the audience. It’s a good idea to break down content into smaller chunks throughout your presentation so it’s easy to digest.

We should make a presentation with 10 or 15 slides. Because the fewer the number of slides, the more information you can fit into each slide presentation. An eye-catching display to view in less than 3 minutes consists of 50 to 60 slide presentations. 

See also: 2022 Color Trends You Will Meet: Serenity Will Take Part This Year (+Pantone Color of the Year)

Simply put, we might understand that. The best colors for presentation slides have high contrast, so they’re easy to see. Dark backgrounds should have the light text and a muted accent color, and light backgrounds should have the dark text and bold accent color. By choosing the best colors for presentation slides, we can increase the audience’s engagement and understanding.

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Best Colors For Presentations | The Psychology Of Color

Color psychology studies how various hues or color schemes influence people’s emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Although psychologists research it, it applies to various vocations, including architecture, design, business, and cooking. If you think about it, color is everywhere around you. It implies that it has an impact on everything around us. The article discusses the best colors for presentations.

The best colors for presentations includes red, green, purple, blue, yellow, orange, pink, grey, and black. The psychology of colors in Powerpoint is that the colors you use to display your offer should directly relate to your audience’s expectations for that good or service.

  Correct use of color can aid viewers in sorting out the various components of a slide. But its influence goes far beyond simple explanation. The choice of colors for your images will, in part, determine how your viewers will feel.  SlideUpLift  makes it easy to sort the templates and colors. Read below to learn more about the best colors for presentations.

Table of Contents

What are the best background and text colors for a PowerPoint presentation?

ppt colors

  • Red because people link red with danger and become more cautious; red encourages attention to detail and excitement, as was already said. Due to its association with a tranquil setting where it is safe to experiment, the color blue inspires creativity. 
  • Green is viewed as warm and passionate and promotes conversation and engagement.
  • Yellow is an eye-catching color that works well for emphasizing important details. Moreover, it has been shown to improve memory and promote thought.
  • Purple is one of the best colors for presentations, historically connecting to royalty and hardly found in nature. 

One of the crucial choices that take care of at the beginning of designing your slides is the selection of colors for your presentation slides. As part of a branding strategy, most organizations today use a template with corporate colors for all presentations made outside the organization. But you can select your slide colors for many internal presentations and other companies.

Why does it matter to your presentation?

ppt presentation

According to research, color comprises 62–90% of an audience’s initial perception of a new picture and is the first thing they notice about it.

Using the best colors for presentations and reporting materials helps your audience make better decisions.

When messages are accompanied by color, people grasp them better and retain more of what they’ve read.

Psychology Of Color In Powerpoint

Here is the Psychology Of Color In Powerpoint for the best presentation colors.

black

Black has historically been the color of court attire; therefore, it also represents power . Banks designate the color black for the cards of their premium customers.

Choose a presentation to  enable dark mode   to convey exclusivity or a VIP product or service to your audience. Use richly detailed images to draw attention to expensive items like carbon fiber that can raise client expectations.

See Also: Top 16 Free Writing Software Of 2023 | Create Better Content Faster

White: Fresh and clean

Due to its association with immaculate and innocent purity, white is one of the best colors for presentations and is widely used in wedding attire, baptisms, and hotel beds. The message of austerity is conveyed. Warm wood is frequently combined with matte white finishes for table lamps or other furniture in Nordic styling since white emphasizes minimalism.

Strictly, without being bounced, the entire light spectrum counts as a color. Traditional white-predominant themes are popular because they are easy to utilize and facilitate the creation of presentations.

Silver: Modernity and innovation

silver

People often associate the color silver with wealth because it directly connects to the silver medal. Its shiny, clean appearance also links it to modern and high-tech concepts.

Red: Strength, activity, and assurance

red

On the plus side, red is related to passion and love . Red has always represented power in cultural contexts. Sometimes it’s wiser to play it safe and choose a color or tint that won’t overpower the message.

See Also: 19 Best Free GIF Animator Software for Windows (Updated)

Blue: Stability, reliability, and safety

blue

Designers often use blue because it conveys a conservative tone . Businesses, financial organizations, and healthcare facilities all use blue to express their commitment to dependability and professionalism.

Curious about the 14 Best Free 2D Animation Software for Windows? Don’t worry. We got you. Just Check This Out .

What shades of PowerPoint work best for presentations?

Only use gradients in the text if the words are huge and primarily meant for ornamental purposes. On a dark background, stick to white or light beige; use black (or another very dark color) on a light background. This will give your slides a more polished appearance.

How do you effectively use color slides in PowerPoint?

Ensure simplicity. One important guideline for using color theory in presentations is to make your palette simple and harmonious. You can create a straightforward yet striking color scheme by selecting two hues, tints, or tones of the same color. Choose a color scheme with no more than three hues.

What colors in a presentation are eye-catching?

Since yellow is the most powerful color in the visible spectrum and is the most obvious to the human eye, it stands out from the crowd. When used sparingly, it works well to draw attention without sounding harsh.

What effect does color have on the viewer?

You can anticipate how the colors you select will affect your clients because most colors link to specific moods that they evoke across demographics. Red, for instance, frequently links to zeal and hurry, but blue is reassuring and reliable.

It is all about the best colors for presentations. It is essential to know how colors relate to the topic you are talking about and how your audience will perceive them. If you want the audience to be able to read the text and graphics on the screen , they must be in a color that contrasts noticeably with the backdrop color. In presentations, you may therefore employ these colors with ease.

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10 Surprising Facts About the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

A s the world prepares to ring in a new year, more than one billion people are expected to tune in to watch a glowing orb drop down a pole to mark midnight in New York City.

The tradition going back more than a century features star performers, quirky customs and some practical challenges for the hundreds of thousands of revelers packed into Times Square.

Here’s what you may not have known about one of the world’s most highly-anticipated New Year’s Eve celebrations. 

The concept began with sailing 

Starting in the 1800s, balls dropped from poles were used to signify the time to sailors out at sea. The first was installed in Portsmouth, England, followed by another ball in Greenwich, the namesake of Greenwich Mean Time, and that timekeeping ball is still dropped every day.

The first American time ball was installed atop the United States Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. in 1845.

The Times Square tradition started because of a fireworks ban 

The New York Times started the modern-day tradition of dropping a ball on a pole to mark the beginning of the new year, the official Times Square website said. Crowds had already been coming to Times Square, named after the newspaper’s skyscraper, to celebrate the new year, but a fireworks ban in 1907 threw a wrench in that plan.

Instead, the newspaper’s owner Adolph Ochs commissioned Ukrainian immigrant and metalworker Jacob Starr to create an illuminated 700 lbs (317 kg) iron and wood ball to be lowered from the flagpole of the Times Tower. 

The ball was lowered by hand before midnight and then an electrician turned a switch to light up a sign displaying the numbers of the year in lights, a novelty at the time, Starr’s granddaughter told CNN. Waiters in nearby establishments also wore battery-powered “1908” top hats that they lit up at midnight.

The tradition took a two-year break  

The ball went out of commission for two years, in 1942 and 1943, during World War II, Times Square’s website said. Crowds still gathered for a minute of silence followed by chimes ringing from trucks parked at the Times Tower. 

The ball weighs more than a car 

The modern day ball stretches 12 ft. (three and a half meters) in diameter and weighs 11,875 lbs (5,386 kg). That’s between two to three times as much as the average weight of a car in the U.S. in 2022, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The ball’s not the only heavy item on stage —the four numerals to spell out 2024 together also weigh approximately 1,160 lbs (526 kg). The “0” weighs in at 380 lbs. (172 kg), the “2” at 250 lbs. (113 kg), and the “4” at 280 lbs. (127).

It takes hundreds of workers hours to clean up after the event

This year, 200 sanitation workers are expected to hit the streets and take about six hours to clean up the confetti and trash left behind by the crowds.

Literally tons of trash accumulates, with the NYC Department of Sanitation telling Untapped New York that it picked up more than 60 tons (60,000 kg) of confetti, big party hats, noisemakers, sunglasses and more over the 2021 to 2022 New Year’s Eve.

US-HOLIDAY-NEW YEARS

The ball’s crystals have special meanings 

The ball is covered with 2,688 crystal triangles, made by Waterford Crystal , measuring between four and six inches (10 to 15 cm) per side, according to the Times Square website. They are then bolted to 672 LED modules and illuminated by 32,256 LEDs.

Each crystal triangle has a special pattern with a different meaning, featuring 192 each of nine symbols—the Gift of Love overlapping hearts, the Gift of Wisdom a wheel, the Gift of Happiness a sun image, the Gift of Goodwill three pineapples, the Gift of Harmony a small rosette, the Gift of Serenity butterflies above a meadow, the Gift of Kindness a circle of rosettes, the Gift Of Wonder a faceted starburst and the Gift of Fortitude diamond cuts on either side of a crystal pillar.

The remaining 960 Gift of Imagination triangles are a series of intricate wedge cuts. 

Wishes written on confetti are dropped from rooftops 

At midnight, 3,000 lbs. (1,360 kg) of confetti is dropped from the rooftops of buildings over Times Square by hundreds of volunteers. Anyone in or visiting New York City was welcome to pen their wish and put it on a “Wishing Wall” before Dec. 25. People across the world were able to get involved prior to Dec. 28 by submitting a wish online , which would then be printed on confetti ahead of New Year’s Eve.

Revelers pay up to $12,500 to eat at a restaurant with a view 

While it’s free to stand in Times Square and watch the ball drop, restaurants on the square are offering steep packages for food and a view from the warmth of their establishments. 

The Marriott Marquis hotel charges $12,500 for its Prime VIP Couple's Package, which offers an open bar, dinner buffet, hors d'oeuvres, a bottle of champagne and guaranteed seating next to floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Times Square.

Even family-friendly chain staple Olive Garden is charging $450 for its New Year’s Eve party, with a buffet, open bar, DJ and dancing, and champagne toast.

Some people take drastic measures to ensure they maintain their viewing spot

There are no portable restrooms in Times Square for the event, leaving revelers on their own to find a restroom. Restaurants likely won’t let thousands of people in to use the toilet for free without buying something, and leaving could mean losing a viewing spot someone waited hours in line to get. The result? People have said they wear adult diapers.

Security is tight, especially this year 

Everyone coming into the square goes through security screening. The New York Police Department uses 1,200 security cameras for the event and stations thousands of officers in Times Square, real estate website 6sqft reported.

Security is especially tight this year, after a 19-year-old man with a machete injured three police officers last year near Times Square. The prosecutors who charged him said he committed the attack “in the name of radical Islamic jihad.”

This year, the FBI has issued a general warning about the threat of violence at New Year’s Eve and other festive winter holiday events because of the Israel-Hamas war . The NYPD expanded its security screening zone to also prepare for potential protests related to the war, the Gothamist reported.

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Innovation | December 26, 2023

Seven Scientific Discoveries From 2023 That Could Lead to New Inventions

Biologists learned lots about animals and plants this year, and their findings could inspire better robots, medicine and environmental technologies

a monarch butterfly on small purple flowers

Carlyn Kranking

Assistant Editor, Science and Innovation

When brainstorming ways to improve human life, inventors often look to nature. Animals and plants, which evolved over millennia to thrive in their environments, provide an excellent blueprint for innovation.

This year, for example, scientists from China and Switzerland debuted a drug-delivery patch that resembles the suckers of an octopus . The suction cup-shaped device adheres to the inside of a patient’s cheek and infuses medicine orally, with no needle required. And inspired by the squishy sea cucumber, engineers developed a magnetic, shape-shifting robot that can liquefy when heated and re-form as it cools. One day, the invention could have medical applications, such as removing harmful items from a patient’s stomach; it might also help assemble hard-to-reach circuits or act as a universal screw.

But before any of these inventions could come to be, scientists first had to learn something about the natural world. In 2023, researchers described proteins in caterpillar venom, aerodynamic patterns on monarch butterflies and reflective materials in crustaceans’ eyes that could hold lessons for engineers. These breakthroughs of today could inspire the technology of tomorrow.

Here are seven scientific discoveries from this year that could lead to new inventions.

Asp caterpillar venom punches holes in cell walls

a thick, furry caterpillar on a leaf atop a tissue

Though furry asp caterpillars might look like harmless, walking toupees , you should resist any urge to reach out and pet one. Beneath their soft exteriors, asp caterpillars hide a menacing network of venom-filled spines. Though the larval moths grow little more than an inch long , their sting can put an adult human in the hospital . This year, scientists analyzed how their powerful toxin works.

It turns out, asp caterpillar venom contains an unusual, shape-shifting protein , according to a study published in July in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . When the toxin reaches the outer surface of a cell, this protein forms into a doughnut-like shape, then punches a hole through the cell wall.

Toxins made by bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella enter cells in a similar manner. So the scientists suggest that some kind of bacteria inserted its genes into an asp caterpillar’s DNA long ago. Then, once the caterpillar grew into an adult moth, it passed these genes on to its offspring.

By mimicking the hole-punching nature of the caterpillar’s proteins, engineers could develop medicine delivery strategies that “get drugs inside cells where they need to work,” study co-author Andrew Walker , a molecular bioscientist at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ’s Antonia O’Flaherty. “We might be able to engineer these kinds of toxins to target cancer cells or to target pathogens while leaving human cells alone.”

That work could take at least one or two decades. But this area of research could mean that one day, the asp caterpillar’s venom could bring not only pain but relief.

Hibernating bears do not get blood clots

a brown bear with three cubs

From long airplane rides to bed rest after surgery, extended sedentary periods can bend veins, leading blood to pool and increasing the risk for clotting, or deep vein thrombosis . But hibernating bears lie largely still for months on end—and these masters of inactivity do not get blood clots.

To find out how they do it, scientists tracked down brown bears in Sweden during the winter and summer months. They tranquilized the hulking creatures and took blood samples at both times of year. In a makeshift lab in the field, they discovered one protein showed a significant seasonal change: Called HSP47, it was present in high levels during the summers but nearly nonexistent during hibernation, per a paper published in Science in April.

Based on past research, the scientists understood that HSP47 was involved in helping platelets bind to white blood cells to fight infections. So, by decreasing levels of the protein during hibernation, it seemed like the bears were establishing a safeguard against blood clots.

Informed by what they’d seen in bears, the team turned to human subjects. They measured levels of HSP47 in people with spinal cord injuries, who remain sedentary for long periods of time but do not struggle with thrombosis. Sure enough, their levels of HSP47 were lower than average. And when the researchers had ten volunteers spend 27 days on bed rest, they observed a drop in this clot-producing protein over that time.

Understanding HSP47 could have medical implications. It might help doctors determine who is at an increased risk for thrombosis. Or it could provide avenues for preventive treatment in cancer patients and those recovering from surgery, who would be more likely to develop blood clots.

“The ideal treatment for deep vein thrombosis would prevent blood clots from forming where they aren’t supposed to, while not preventing your body’s normal blood clotting machinery,” Kim Martinod , a biomedical scientist at KU Leuven in Belgium, said to Science ’s Elizabeth Pennisi. “This has the potential to be just that.”

Some crustaceans have shiny eyes that help them hide from predators

six transparent-looking shrimp larvae

To survive in the ocean, lots of creatures opt for camouflage. But some take it to another level: Ghostly animals essentially hide from the light itself, with transparent bodies that all but disappear from view. Glass squid use this strategy, along with larval forms of several fish , but it has one pitfall. The creatures’ eyes reflect light, creating a bit of shine that can give away their location to a predator. Transparent eyes simply wouldn’t function since certain dark pigments are essential for vision.

Some shrimp and prawn larvae, however, have evolved a way around this shortcoming. Their eyes are covered with a sheet of light-manipulating glass that effectively matches their eyeshine to the color of surrounding water. In this way, the tiny crustaceans can become invisible.

In a paper published in Science in February, researchers examined the complex material that forms this eye-shielding glass. It’s actually composed of tiny spheres, each just billionths of a meter wide, made of a substance called isoxanthopterin.

These spheres, which reflect light like miniature disco balls, form a disorganized array with gaps in between them, so the crustaceans can still see. The glassy shield can reflect different colors of light—from deep blue to yellow green—based on the animal’s camouflage needs. In lab experiments , prawns exposed to hours of sunlight had yellow reflective eyes, but those left in the dark overnight instead reflected green. Interestingly, the size and arrangement of the spheres controlled the color of light they reflected, and that color was consistent across all viewing angles.

With further research on these little spheres, researchers could uncover ways to improve light-manipulating technologies in solar panels, remote sensing and communications, according to a perspective accompanying the paper.

“There is currently a great interest in finding organic, biocompatible, high-refractive-index materials as replacements for inorganic materials in pigments, cosmetics and other optical materials,” Benjamin Palmer , a co-author of the study and a chemist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, told New Scientist ’s Alice Klein.

Or, because the tiny glass spheres create a uniform color, the structures could inspire environmentally friendly paints or even nail polish .

Monarch butterflies get extra lift from spots on their wings

a monarch butterfly on small purple flowers

The monarch butterfly’s death-defying migration is in a class of its own. No other butterfly species is known to complete a two-way trip, heading south for the winter then returning north as temperatures warm, like birds do. The insects might cover 100 miles in a single day , clocking a total distance of up to 3,000 miles before they reach their final destinations. To save energy, they’ll often ride on air currents. And, according to a study published in PLOS One in June, the butterflies’ wing patterns might also give them a boost .

As monarchs fly, the patchwork of dark and light colors on the edges of their wings creates an uneven pattern of heating and cooling, per the study. With the dark areas slightly warmer and the white parts slightly cooler, tiny, swirling pockets of air can form around the spots. These eddies may provide some extra lift for the insects and reduce drag on their wings by shifting how air flows past the butterfly.

Comparing spot size across monarchs and other species supported this idea. Butterflies that didn’t migrate had smaller white spots than monarchs, as did certain nonmigratory monarchs, which belong to generations born in the summer that don’t survive to see migration time in the fall.

Mimicking the monarchs’ white spots could help engineers create more efficient drones, the researchers say.

“Your drone would be able to carry more, because this coloration helps them gain extra lift,” co-author Mostafa Hassanalian , a mechanical engineer at New Mexico Tech who has created drones from taxidermy birds , said to Popular Science ’s Zayna Syed.

The research shows that even subtle changes in coloration can make a big difference. Successful butterflies that made it to Mexico had white spots that were larger by just 3 percent, compared with the ones that ended their migratory journeys in the southern United States. Though this number may seem low, it can hold major consequences for the monarchs, co-author Andy Davis , an animal ecologist at the University of Georgia, told National Geographic ’s Jason Bittel. “That could be the difference between life and death during the migration,” he said.

Desert plant pulls moisture from the air with special salts

spindly leaves of an athel tamarisk plant with drops of water against an orange sky

When it comes to eking out a living without much water, desert-dwelling organisms are the masters of innovation. Some animals, such as the Gila monster , have become adept at storing water within their bodies. And plants can grow deep-reaching roots to get a drink from far underground.

But one dry-adapted plant turns to another source to gain moisture: the air. Spindly shrubs called athel tamarisks draw salty water from the soil and excrete the salt from their leaves. Then, at night, these crystals allow them to collect water from the air , according to a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October.

Scientists snipped a branch from the athel tamarisk and brought it back to their lab. They placed it in an environmentally controlled chamber meant to mimic desert conditions: 95 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 percent humidity. After two hours, the branch, with the salt crystals on its leaves, had gained 15 milligrams of water. When they tested the same branch without its salt, it collected only 1.6 milligrams.

The team examined the salt’s components and found it contained at least ten different materials, which together allowed it to pull water from the air, even at relatively low humidities of 55 percent. One of these components was lithium sulfate, which could gather water at the lowest humidities.

These salts, being naturally produced by the plant, are likely to be environmentally safe, the authors write. Identifying them could help engineers improve practices for pulling moisture from the air in water-strapped regions. Cloud-seeding, a process that adds crystals to clouds to prompt them to create rain, is already used in nations such as the United Arab Emirates to fight dry conditions and in Pakistan to mitigate smog .

“This holds the promise of revolutionizing cloud-seeding practices by rendering them more effective and environmentally friendly, while also aligning with our responsibility to use the planet’s scarce water resources wisely,” Marieh Al-Handawi , a chemist at New York University Abu Dhabi and lead author of the study, said in a statement .

Bugs called sharpshooters fling their pee to save energy

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Tiny insects called sharpshooters drink up to 300 times their own body weight each day. They exclusively ingest xylem sap from plants—a low-energy substance that’s 99 percent water—so they have to get rid of plenty of excess liquid. As a result, the bugs urinate almost constantly.

But the way that happens is surprising: A sharpshooter creates a droplet of urine on top of a flexible appendage called an anal stylus. The stylus rotates along a hinge, then catapults the pee away from the bug at a high speed .

In a study published in Nature Communications in February, scientists found that, oddly enough, the drops of pee moved through the air 40 percent faster than the stylus did. This feat, in which a projectile flies more quickly than its launching device, is called “superpropulsion.”

Through slow-motion video and microscopy, the researchers found a sharpshooter used its stylus to compress the droplet, creating surface tension that stores energy until the drop is released at the proper moment—kind of like how a diver times their jump with a bounce of the board to gain extra lift.

To scientists, this ability is fascinating, as it sets sharpshooters apart from all other animals: No other species has been documented to achieve superpropulsion.

But to the bugs, this odd tactic has a more practical benefit. By flinging droplets instead of producing a pee stream, sharpshooters save energy—pelting pee is actually four to eight times more efficient than the alternative, the researchers found.

Engineers could take a hint from sharpshooters—the mechanisms used by the bugs could lead to better ways to remove water from electronic devices; for example, a smartwatch that can eject liquid through speaker vibrations. Perhaps superpropulsion could inspire technologies that defog the surfaces of goggles or glasses by vibrating them, as well.

Bowhead whales can repair their DNA, and in doing so, increase their cancer resistance

overhead view of two bowhead whales swimming amid ice

In the animal kingdom, the rate of cancer is mysterious: As a matter of statistics, larger animals, which have more cells in total, should get cancer more frequently than smaller ones. But looking at elephants and whales, that isn’t the case—respectively, these massive creatures have roughly 100 and 1,000 times the number of cells humans do, but their rates of cancer are much lower.

This inconsistency, called Peto’s paradox, has long puzzled scientists. Past research revealed a gene in elephants that seems to suppress tumors, hinting at an answer to the problem. This year, scientists found two proteins in bowhead whales that could be linked to DNA repair, increasing the animals’ cancer resistance, according to a preprint paper published in bioRxiv in May.

Bowhead whales are the longest-lived mammals on Earth , with a life span that can exceed 200 years. The research suggests the whales’ ability to repair DNA might be one of the keys to their longevity.

In the study, researchers severed both strands of the DNA molecule in cells from humans, cows, mice and bowhead whales. This kind of damage, called a “double-strand break,” is known to increase cancer risk. More than two times as many bowhead whale cells were able to repair their DNA, compared with the cells of any other species. And the whale cells did a much better job at fixing the DNA accurately—the human, cow and mouse cells were often sloppy with repairs, making incorrect additions or deletions to the DNA sequence. Such mistakes can also raise the risk of cancer.

The team found that proteins called CIRBP and RPA2 were much more common in bowhead whales and played a role in this gene repair. Perhaps, scientists say, regulating such proteins in humans could mitigate damage to DNA .

“We probably have the solution to cancer medicine out there in nature already,” Orsolya Vincze , an evolutionary ecologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research who was not involved in the study, told Science News ’ Meghan Rosen. “We just have to find it.”

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Carlyn Kranking | | READ MORE

Carlyn Kranking is the assistant web editor for science and innovation.

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