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Slide:ology: My favorite presentation book of all time

Nancy_cover Finally! Nancy Duarte, the Principle of Duarte Design (the firm behind the creation of Al Gore's Oscar-winning presentations), has published a presentation book for the rest of us. It's called Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Slide:ology is practical, it's highly visual, and it's beautiful. I love this book. Slide:ology should come bundled with every copy of PowerPoint or Keynote ever sold from now on. I received a draft copy about three months ago that blew me away — the final product is even better than I expected. I just got my copy over the weekend. At 274 pages, the book is meaty without being bloated. This book is not the last word on presentation, but it's the best book on the art (and science) of creating and delivering presentations with the help of multimedia written to date. Period. A really cool feature in the book is that many of the presentations Nancy shows in her book are available for download or can be seen via video on a specially created Slide:ology website for free. There are no longer any excuses for really bad presentations.

Slide:ology contents
The book has twelve chapters: (1) Creating a new slide ideology. (2) Creating ideas, not slides. (3) Creating Diagrams. (4) Displaying Data. (5) Thinking like a designer. (6) Arranging elements. (7) Using visual elements: background, color, and text. (8) Using visual images. (9) Creating movement. (10) Governing with templates. (11) Interacting with slides. (12) Manifesto: The five theses of the power of a presentation.

I hope to put a Slideshare together in future which covers some of the more salient points in the book. But that takes time. So today I put together a short video embedded in a few Keynote slides as a way of (1) saying how much I love the book and (2) demonstrating how easy it is to place elements in Keynote and save the file as a self-contained video. It took about an hour (mostly editing images). All that was needed was Keynote and basic photo-editing software. Yeah, it's rough, but it was down-n-dirty (i.e., quick and simple). Even the video camera was just a cheap but useful Nikon point-n-shoot. 

(Be sure to click the "Fullscreen Toggle" in the player above or go here to see a larger version on blip.tv.) 



Thanks for the review! I will buy it at the bookstore today!

Jon Thomas

Reading it now. It's amazing. I agree that it's surprising how many secrets they give away!! Duarte Design has truly taken presentation design to a whole new level.

For the novice presentation designer, I still recommend PZ first, but this is a close second if that novice wants to get serious about presentation design, especially for abstract business concepts.


Charles Martineau

Another book in my wishlist on amazon! I will get it for sure!

Jim L

I loved the book. My favorite example was "Creating Scenes, Not Slides"...very cool. This was a completely new idea to me, and it's wonderful how clearly she presents it in just a two-page spread (and the sample file provided).

The thing that rather shocked me was that she says "If a slide contains more than 75 words, it has become a document." Isn't that an awfully high threshold?

I wish her website had some sort of discussion forum for talking about some of the concepts in the book. In particular, I have a question about the presentation explained on 154-155. When you look at the ppt file, you can see the way each letter is animated. The letters aren't text boxes, but individual "freeform" objects. Does anyone know how this was done?

Mike Maryanski

I am using it to prepare for our back-to-school meeting with all staff. Great ideas and support, but it does ratchet up the anxiety. I do miss my bullets, but the feedback from more recent presentations reinforces what you, Duarte and others are telling us.


Looking forward to reading it--gotta love that cover

Robert Smelser

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll be sure to pick this one up along with yours!

John Spence

Superb book -- I had pre-ordered it on your advice Garr -- and it exceeded my expectations! Great ideas, super examples, cool design - along with your book a "must read" -- take good care my friend -- John

Nancy Duarte

Hey @Charles Martineau Each set of text was built in Illustrator. This way, we could quickly experiment with different type treatments to find the perfect balance of contrast and hierarchy. Once one treatment was settled on, it was easy to convert the text to outlines (Type > Create Outlines), converting the text into Illustrator shapes. We then selected the converted group of text in Illustrator, copied it, and pasted it into PowerPoint using the “paste special” feature (Edit > Paste Special). Using this feature allows you to paste into PowerPoint as a specific file format. To create the effect we wanted, we chose to paste as an enhanced metafile. This allowed us to break the text “picture” using the Ungroup tool in PowerPoint, turning the letters into editable shapes that could then be individually animated.

A similar effect can be acheived without leaving PowerPoint. Create individual letters as text fields or Word Art. Then they can be individually animated.

Jim L

Nancy, thanks for the info on the text animation. I hope to make it to one of your seminars some day.

Alexis B


Do you love slide:ology more than (your) PZ book? ;)

For me, slide:ology is not better than PZ; and PZ neither.
Those books are complementary:
* PZ for all that is around the presentation (mindset) and for general design principles
* slide:ology for going really deep in slide design possibilities and for having a lot of basic tools

So my question: unofficially, have Nancy and you written both PZ & slide:ology so they complement each other? ;p

David Battino

Nancy Duarte's September 17 webcast, "You are a Natural Born (Visual) Storyteller," just went public at www.oreillynet.com/pub/e/1095.

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