Champagne Design — PowerPoint Design

I do your presentation props — PowerPoint slides and templates

4:3 or 16:9 ratio for your slides?

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.old-4x3-ratio-monitors

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.new16x9-ratio-monitors

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!


Choosing the correct ratio for your slides, either the old 4:3 or most probably the newer 16:9 widescreen ratio.

Choosing the correct ratio for your slides, either the old 4:3 or most probably the newer 16:9 widescreen ratio.

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.


Depends how far you want to go back, standards are always changing, we need to keep up!

One comment on “4:3 or 16:9 ratio for your slides?

  1. Bryan

    Just my 2 cents: If your screen is 16:9 go with that But if your screen is a fixed width and can be as tall as you open it up to (like ours), then you can project larger images and fonts using 4:3. You can’t project any wider than the screen, but if your screen can unroll really tall, then 4:3 is better.

Leave a Reply


This entry was posted on 2016-07-26 by in PowerPoint Tips and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: