Make America Widescreen Again

Tutorial Level: Basic

Here's a super simple trick to dial your PowerPoint presentation's delivery up a notch. This involves changing your presentation's aspect ratio to better utilize your presentation screen.


Nobody wants to see black bars on either side of your presentation—it's distracting! Why not take advantage of the full screen? 


PowerPoint offers two preset aspect ratios: 4:3 and 16:9 (width:height), also known as standard and widescreen. Most modern presentations will be viewed on a wider screen. I have no facts to back that up but I am right. 

Context of course is key, understanding how your deck will be delivered will help you determine whether to design for 4:3 or 16:9. There are some circumstances at GhostRanch where we intentionally design a presentation for 4:3 screens. One such occasion is when we travel back in time to present on older screens. Just kidding! 4:3 is actually closer to the landscape printed format (11"x8.5"), so if printing your deck is a huge consideration, then perhaps you'll opt for 4:3. Then again, if your deck is being created just to printed, it's really a document, but I digress.

The other time we create decks at 4:3 is when we want them specifically viewed on a tablet, such as an iPad, which maintains a 4:3 ratio. Beyond that, nowadays, I'd say you're safe building most decks for widescreens (which may soon be referred to as screens).

Let's say your deck is 4:3 but you don't want those ridiculous black bars distracting your audience, we've got your quick fix. In PowerPoint, navigate to the "design" tab. There's a little "Slide Size" tool, upper right. Drop that bad boy down.

You'll see two options, 4:3 and 16:9. 

Now, here's the final step, go ahead and select "Widescreen (16:9)"

Welp, that wraps up our tutorial. We hope you've been able to follow along. 

Thank you for your time, and be excellent to each other. 


PowerPoint Tutorials