I do your presentation props — PowerPoint & Prezi
What does 4:3 and 16:9 mean? It describes the dimensions of a screen in width and height. For every 4 inches of width on the screen there is a corresponding 3 inches of height. So, an old monitor that was 12 inches wide, had 9 inches in height, 16×12, 24×18 etc.
The newer dimensions are wider, 16:9, for every 16 inches of width, there is an equivalence of 9 inches of height. We are not talking about the diagonal measure, which is what the stores use to sell TVs and monitors, but the actual proportions in width and height.
So, what’s all the fuss? The problem occurs when we use the wrong proportions on the screen being used for the presentation. As illustrated in the image below, black bars appear, usually on either side of your slides, sometimes above and below.
If you are using the old 4:3 standard for your slides, but showing them on a newer screen, or boardroom widescreen monitor, you will get black areas on either side. Nothing wrong with that, but it is a waste of screen space, and frankly, looks a bit amateur. If you have the real estate up on screen, you really should use it!
In only one instance has the other problem occurred in my experience. A client was using a newer widescreen PowerPoint template, on a old monitor. The unusual result was black bars on the top and bottom. Hopefully not the screen being used for the presentation!
Almost all screens, monitors, TVs and projectors sold in the last 10 years are widescreen! There is no reason for you to create your slides in the old standard. I strongly suggest you use a widescreen template for your slides.