By Geraldine Woods

At school or at work, you sometimes have to present information with words and graphics. You may use PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or another program. You can find several systems of capitalisation and punctuation for presentation slides. It is possible to learn them all, but why bother? Here is one simple style, which is always acceptable. Follow these guidelines, and your work will be properly formatted:

  • If you center the title, do not put quotation marks around it. Not every slide has a title. If it does, center the title alone on a line. For non-scientific material, capitalise the important words. For science presentations, capitalise the first word of the title and any proper names. Do not place a full stop at the end of the title. Do not enclose it in quotation marks.

  • Introduce a bulleted list. Bullets are the items in a list that marked off with little symbols (dots, check marks, arrows, or other symbols). The introduction to a bulleted list may be a sentence, or it may be just a phrase. The introduction usually ends with a colon (one dot on top of another). If the introduction is only a phrase or a portion of a sentence, you do not need a colon. Do not place a colon after is, will be, was, or any form of the verb to be.

  • Be sure all bullet points resemble each other. If you capitalise the first word of one bullet point, capitalise the first word of all of them. If one bullet point is a sentence, every bullet point should be a sentence. Avoid mismatches.

  • Usually, you do not need punctuation after bullet points. Suppose your bullet points are swimming, tanning, and building sand castles. You do not need to place a full stop after the last letter of these expressions.

  • Bullet points that are complete sentences needs full stops or question marks. The logic here is simple. Complete sentences that are statements end with full stops. Complete sentences that are questions need question marks at the end.

This goes beyond grammar, but it’s still important advice to keep in mind: Your audience is listening and looking at the same time. Do not place too many words on the presentation slides. If you do, and your audience is concentrating on reading your slides, they may not hear what you are trying to say.