Tag Archives: Slide Rules

Case Study 4: Headers, visuals, notes

Complicated work can lead people to believe that complicated slides are necessary. In truth, the opposite will work better.  Keep complicated technical or scientific content simple when on the screen.  Here’s a great example.

For a course titles “Computer-Aided Engineering: Applications to Biological Processes,” the student team of Taha Ahmad, Karann Putrevu, Remy Walk,  and Cher (Xuexiang) Zhang performed some amazing work for their project titled Optimization of reversible electroporation for the destruction of an irregular brain tumor.  When it came time to showcase their work, they worked hard to make the findings accessible in an efficient manner.

This is a strong example of a sentence header plus visual evidence.

This example shows one of their typical slides that follows our recommended assertion+evidence approach.  There is a complete thought at the top, with powerful visual information in the center acreage.

Next, let’s look at how the team deployed the notes to their advantage.  During the talk, the slide does just what it needs to do: support  the speaker.  Then, because notes are used, the slide deck can go on to provide help and information later because of the notes.

Good slide with notes
When researchers and technical experts provide full talking points, the functionality of any slide deck increases








Thinking carefully about what it *is* that your audience needs at the moment of the presentation versus what information they might need in two or three months is a key shift that you should make. Using notes allows your slide deck to offload wordiness while supporting the larger technical endeavor.

Permission to use this slide example was granted from the authoring team. Reports from this class (not slides) can be found here, starting in 1999: http://4530.bee.cornell.edu/ .

Slide Rules–now available in paperback and e-book!

Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical FieldsTo purchase, the book Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields is now available via the Wiley-IEEE Press website or Amazon.com .

ISBN-10: 1118002962 | ISBN-13: 978-1118002964

Planning a technical presentation can be tricky. Does the audience know your subject area? Will you need to translate concepts into terms they understand? What sort of visuals should you use? Will this set of bullets truly convey the information? What will your slides communicate to future users? Questions like these and countless others can overwhelm even the most savvy technical professionals.

This full-color, highly visual work addresses the unique needs of technical communicators looking to break free of the bulleted slide paradigm. For those seeking to improve their presentations, the authors provide guidance on how to plan, organize, develop, and archive technical presentations. Drawing upon the latest research in cognitive science as well as years of experience teaching seasoned technical professionals, the authors cover a myriad of issues involved in the design of presentations, clearly explaining how to create slide decks that communicate critical technical information. Key features include:

  • Innovative methods for archiving and documenting work through slides in the technical workplace
  • Guidance on how to tailor presentations to diverse audiences, technical and nontechnical alike
  • A plethora of color slides and visual examples illustrating various strategies and best practices
  • Links to additional resources as well as slide examples to inspire on-the-job changes in presentation practices

Slide Rules is a first-rate guide for practicing engineers, scientists, and technical specialists as well as anyone wishing to develop useful, engaging, and informative technical presentations in order to become an expert communicator.

Slide Rules is available early in e-book format!


Our book, Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields, is soon to be on shelves.  At the moment, it can be purchased in e-book format.  In about three weeks, hard copies will be available; you can pre-order them now at the same site.