You see a great layout in a poster, brochure, web site, but you find it impossible to replicate it in PowerPoint. You figured out the font, you copied the color codes, and it still does not look nowhere near the example. How can it be?

There are more variables when it comes to layout than just a type face and color:

  • How are colors used? Take a step back from your example page and try to estimate the % coverage of a page has a certain color. Yes, the accent color could match exactly, but maybe the designer uses it only very sparsely, and in fact the dominant color of the page is grey, not bright yellow.
  • How is white space used? You matched the font, but maybe those bold PowerPoint headlines and text boxes full of text does not fit the loosely spaced, thin text lines that the designer used. 
  • What sort of images are in the example? Color or B&W? Busy or calm? People or objects? Stock images or "real" photos?
  • What sort of page element does the designer use? Graphs? Icons? Narrow columns of small body text? Big bold typography?
  • How are accents created? A bullet point? Bold? A different color? Is the main text color actually black, or a lighter grey, or a different color all together?
  • Does the designer use some sort of grid to group items on a page?
  • Where does the headline sit when compared to the other elements on the page. What is the proportion between the headline and the other elements?

There are lots of choices that set the look & feel of a page. That is why it can be hard to get it right. Even if page layout does not come natural to you, you can still learn to recognize the elements and shamelessly copy from an example you like.

Alternatively, you can try my presentation app SlideMagic, where I made some choices for you.

Art via WikiPedia

If you liked this post, why not subscribe to daily updates about presentation design via email? Just blog posts, no spam, or you can follow Jan on Twitter to never miss a thing.