Maintain your Aspect Ratio!

I spent most of this week at a conference (American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of American joint conference in Baltimore). I learned all sorts of interesting things that are mostly not relevant to this blog, so maybe don’t expect a whole lot more conference related content. Overall, the week was a great opportunity to interact with researchers at other institutions and get some feedback on my work.

It was an excellent week, but I’m going to skip over the positive details and instead share a petty complaint about presentations: graphs that got stretched or compressed when they were put on a slide. If you change the aspect ratio of your graphs to make them fit a slide, any text on your graph will be spaced weirdly and it’ll be hard to read. Here are some ways to avoid this problem.

  1. Did you copy and paste your image into PowerPoint and want to change it’s size? Hold down the “shift” key while you click and and drag the image from its’ corner. This will maintain it’s aspect ratio– the ratio of the length to height of each image.
  2. When you resized your image, is it blocking your institution’s logo at the top of bottom? Try using the “crop” feature inside of PowerPoint to cut off some of the white space around your graph. Click on your picture, go to the “Format” tab on the main menu and use the “crop” tool, which is usually located on the far right side of the menu.
  3. Did cropping not give you enough wiggle room to work with your slide template? Most institutions will not come hunt you down if you use a plain slide every now and then. It’s less obvious if you use the same background color as your main template, or if you make your graph take up the overwhelming majority of the slide area.
  4. If you build your graphs directly in PowerPoint, you can resize endlessly without making labels hard to read. First thing you do is go to the insert menu and select “chart.” In the pop-up menu, select what type of chart you want to make.

    Then you can copy your data into the associated spreadsheet and make your chart similar to how you would in Excel. You can change colors and dimensions and labels without worrying that it will get stretched on your slides.createchart.PNG

Another time people’s graphs get compressed is when you switch between standard and widescreen formats. Whether you use “maximize” or “ensure fit” conversion options, always check your graphics. Aspect ratios seem like a small thing, but they can help keep your images readable, making your slides more polished!

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