What Kind of Background Should A Slide Have?

What Kind of Background Should A Slide Have?


Because we’re usually so focused on the center of attention of a slide, the context of that center of attention can get totally lost. But the context is just as important as the center. If your background is cluttered or in a color that clashes with the main point(s) of the slide, the message can be lost. Picture a red plaid subject against a blue-striped background … yikes!


And so we’ve decided to explain how to choose the best backgrounds for your slides and show you some slides with effective backgrounds.

So what kind of background should a slide have?


The first rule to keep in mind when composing a slide is that the background should never be considered the main element. Background is there to support the center of attention, usually a main presentation point, and so a background should never compete with that content.


As Nancy Duarte says in her book, Slide:ology : The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, backgrounds should be seen as surfaces on which elements are arranged. They should not be considered works of art in themselves.


And so the more neutral the background of a slide, the better that presentation visual will be. Bottom-line? Avoid using visual elements in the background; they’ll only create “noise” and distract from the presentation. Instead, we recommend homogeneous slide backgrounds, plain and simple, and if possible without texture. This way you highlight only the important content of a slide.


(On the other hand, if your intention is to create chaos – as a metaphor, for example – using inappropriate and clashy background may be a way to go!)


But as a rule, we at SOAP usually suggest using a black or a white background, as these are in fact the best options.

The advantages of white and black backgrounds?


  •  They don’t pollute


  • They’re neutral when it comes to color matching (Your logo is purple and the background is pink? Yikes!)


  •  They enable easy reading when different-color text is being used.


But when choosing a black or a white background, be aware of the following:

what kind of background should a slide have


And now we leave with some examples of neutral-background slides created at SOAP. Feel free to use them to inspire your own work:

what kind of background should a slide have