Higgs Boson, Comic Sans, and Bad PowerPoint!

Thursday, July 12, 2012
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 6:29 AM IST



OK, the title of this post is a little confusing, and I wish there was a simpler title I could use — but in all fairness to the three nuances of this post, I had to have them all in the title!

Let’s start with some introductions:

  1. Higgs Boson, often called the “God particle” is a proposed elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics — let’s just say that scientists have called this a great breakthrough.
  2. Comic Sans is a typeface released by Microsoft in 1994 — the typeface is hugely popular and has been severely criticized for its lack of aesthetics. That criticism though has made no dent in Comic Sans’ huge popularity. It often shows up on PowerPoint slides — and people either love it or hate it — almost no one is indifferent to this typeface.
  3. Bad PowerPoint is well, just a bunch of really bad PowerPoint slides!

Look at this article on the Guardian site. The article explores criticism caused by the use of Comic Sans in all the Higgs Boson slides. Love this comment on the same page:

I don’t get this rabid hatred of Comic Sans. However, many scientists are scared that if their presentation looks anything less than boringly stiff and formal with standard Helvetica, someone with influence on the grants committees will see it and mark down their next application. Never mind the science … he, she or it uses Comic Sans.

Kudos to CERN for bucking this trend, although I suspect it’s just down to an individual assigned to making the slides and no-one bothered to change this aspect.

Memo to self: as Comic Sans p*ss*s people off, must remember to use it more often.

So that was about Higgs Boson and Comic Sans. But it looks like Comic Sans was the least of the problems on the CERN slides. The slides themselves were very, very bad. In fact they are great examples of bad PowerPoint — so bad that PowerPoint designers would love to create makeovers with them!

Don’t believe? Take a look yourself — the CERN folks have these slides available on their site for public to download. Here’s a link to a great example of a bad presentation — it’s a 25 mb download for the PPTX file.

For those of you who would rather not download the PowerPoint slides, you can see them on SlideShare:

Thanks to Echo Swinford, Ellen Finkelstein, and Julie Terberg.

You can also follow this discussion on our LinkedIn group.

Categories: opinion, powerpoint

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1 Comment

  • One word for this deck: YUK!

    You were right about designers wanting to do a makeover on this one.

    Too bad people are still using PowerPoint in such a bad way. Guess that leaves a lot of potential for us then, right? 😉

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