Good afternoon and we hope you’re well.

Last week, Digiknow looked at best practices in design from an MS PowerPoint viewpoint and explained the reasons behind each decision with design and accessibility in mind.

We looked at:

  • text
    • font type, space, amount and alignment
  • 5/5/5 rule
  • colour and contrast
  • layout and consistency
  • visual content
  • design for output

Following on from this, this week we aim to cover improving practices with regards to inserting tables, video and audio into PowerPoint.

Let’s get started!


Bad practice:

  • screen grabs of tables / rubrics / timetables as images
  • tables with large amounts of text which don’t display well on one slide
Table content as text.
Table content as text.

Common practice is to display a lot of information in tables, especially where survey results are concerned. If the text within a table can be selected, it’s more accessible to screen readers.

Tables displayed as images are not accessible. These tables need rebuilt to hold text which can be selectable and readable by screen readers. However, is text the best use to convey this information?

Why not make it visual? Use a graph or infographic to convey the same information. Especially if there are large amounts of data. The image above shows Global Chocolate Consumption in table/text format. Below is the same information displayed differently. Which one is quicker to interpret?

Good practice:

  • tables with selectable text
  • use graphics to communicate large amount of data
Table content displayed visually.
Table content displayed visually.

When including tables in PowerPoint, please ensure they are properly formatted. For example, the Header Row is set and the colours used contrast well. Text should be selectable and this gives screen readers access also.


Here, when we discuss video, it’s in the context of adding video to your PowerPoint slides.

Bad practice:

  • video displayed too large or small on slide
  • bad audio (too quiet or with noisy environmental sounds)
  • irrelevant to the subject of the PowerPoint
  • no captions or transcripts available

Good practice:

  • consideration given to size and relevance of content
  • credit author of the video
  • closed captions or transcript provided
  • direct link to the video on the slide for additional accessibility
PowerPoint for general presentations (face-to-face)

PowerPoint 2016 (and newer versions) enables you to insert videos with embedded closed captions. However, your video will need to be properly produced and encoded to provide this functionality whilst in PowerPoint.

Another consideration is copyright permission. Do you have permission to use and insert the video? If you insert this into your slides, you need permission as you will be disseminating the content.

Video can be embedded to PowerPoint. The drawback here, you need to be internet connected to view the video. Also, when it comes to making a PDF out of your PowerPoint content, video content won’t appear (for obvious reasons).

However, video embedded to Canvas or PowerPoint doesn’t need copyright permission as you’re not downloading, keeping or broadcasting the content. Instead, students are signposted to the video on the hosting site it sits on (i.e., Stream / YouTube / Vimeo, etc.).

Inserting video into PowerPoint presentations can convey a lot of information visually and it can liven up the slides. However, it leads to issues when sharing your PowerPoint with audience members. Inserted video increases the file size of the PowerPoint.

This is an issue in terms of sharing content and uploading your PowerPoint files to the Queen’s Canvas platform. Currently, Canvas modules have 786.4mb of storage per module. That’s not a big space for uploading content.

Workarounds for Canvas

It may be better to consider splitting the PowerPoint content into two parts (without video) and embed the video in Canvas as a separate object which is hosted from elsewhere. This reduces the file size of the PowerPoint.

Do not upload video to your Canvas space.

The video should be embedded on a Canvas page AND a direct link to the video inserted underneath as well, for accessibility purposes. Not all devices can view the embedded video in Canvas, but users can view the video directly on the hosting sites by clicking the link.

Most videos created in Queen’s would be hosted on Mediasite or MS Stream and subtitles or captions should be available on those hosting sites. Another advantage, these hosting services are responsive and will provide video at the right size for the device it is displayed upon.

Let’s look at audio

Audio can be inserted into PowerPoint and this is the scenario we will look at regards audio and accessibility. And, audio can be speech, music or other soundbites.

Bad practice:

  • bad audio (too quiet or with noisy environmental sounds)
  • irrelevant to the subject of the PowerPoint
  • no transcript available

Good practice:

  • consideration given to relevance and quality of the audio
  • credit author who created/owns the audio
  • provide transcript

Accessibility legislation requires a text transcript to make inserted audio accessible for non-hearing audience members. It is recommended to include your text transcript as an accompanying digital file for audience members that need it. This should be available at the same time as the PowerPoint content.

Again, as a workaround, instead of including audio in the slides. Using Canvas, why not embed the audio on a Canvas page. The transcripts would be easier to access on this platform (rather than via PowerPoint).

Video and audio considerations

For video and audio, let the viewer control when they play the media files. Don’t allow these to auto-play as this can be overwhelming. Audience members using screen readers may not be able to hear the screen reader output to find the playback controls to stop the audio or video.


There was a fair bit to cover this week. Not everyone will use tables but for those that do, remember the text needs to be selectable for accessibility purposes.

Tables can be used to display text and or survey results but do be mindful of how much text is required and a graph / chart or infographic might communicate the information more quickly.

All of the content we discussed this week would need ALT Text tags applied to them as inserted items to PowerPoint.

Next week

Our blog post next Monday will look at the third week of designing digital content using MS PowerPoint. This will include notes pages and using the Accessibility Checker.

Remember, the DigiKnow blog posts are now released at noon on a Monday.

Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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