Updated: Aug 5, 2022
I am a strong believer in using slides as a tool for teaching. Well... actually, it's more of a tool for learning, but more about that in 5 Reasons Why You Should Teach using Slides.
For now, the topic is fonts, fonts and fonts. If you don't yet love typography as much as me, read on and be converted.
While my heart is absolutely in Apple Keynote, my go-to is Google Slides. While it can be limiting, it is easy, accessible from anywhere and unbelievable collaborative - so pretty much a teacher's best friend. But no matter which app/program I use - it has to look good and be presentable for my students and co-teachers. Visuals are SO powerful!
If we're going to make slides for teaching, let's do it right and make them look aesthetically pleasing with proper font styles for heading and body text. The fonts we choose and the way we use them determine how aesthetically pleasing our lessons are, but they are powerful in guiding a viewers eye to see what is most important and where to look first. As a basic rule, stick to two fonts, three max!
Our headings should be minimal in words, but powerful and bold in style. This is where you want your students (or colleagues/parents, etc) to look first.
When adding the content of your slides - the body text, it is best to use simple, easy to read fonts and to organize this information into blocks or bullets. Again, less is more and there is no need to put every word on your slide. Use the notes section of your app to help you remember what to say. Don't write it all in the slide! Text overload!
A third font that can occasionally be added for teaching would be voice text. I use this when I want to include a caption of student/character voice or a mock up of student writing. Here, I would apply a handwriting font which is still clearly legible and follows the handwriting format I teach (not mixing capital and lowercase letters and uniform in size). My favorite for this is Architects Daughter, by Google.
Choosing fonts that match or work well together is referred to as font pairing. You definitely cannot just choose your two favorite fonts and put them together - most often, they will not match. The fonts must compliment each other! For example, choosing two script fonts would be overwhelming. Script makes for an excellent heading, but then you would want a simpler font for the body text.
Minimizing the text on your slide is particularly important with younger learners, but even when presenting to adults - make a choice: do you want them to listen, to read, or to be guided by visual step-by-step instructions?
Decide, then put your slide together to follow your intention. Look through these samples to see how the font choices and layout determine what the viewer will do.
So here is your ex-graphic designer turned first grade teacher's list of paired fonts from Google. Download the PDF from my free resource library for a printable version with links to install the fonts on your own device for use in other apps.
One part of Google that can seem like a drawback is that the fonts can be limiting. Although there seems to be at least a thousand now, you cannot yet add your own fonts to Google Apps. You can, however, download Google fonts to your device so that they can be used in Keynote or PowerPoint. Click on any of the font names in this document to download the font.
While I often use Google Slides for teaching, especially on lessons that are collaborative across my teaching team, I definitely prefer Apple Keynote - specifically the iPad version. It's absolutely possible for my slides to look just as good (or even better) in Keynote. It has so many additional features like the MagicMove transition, a variety of drop shadows, background remover and for online teaching you can add your live video into your slides.
Installing new fonts on your iPad can be a little tricky if you haven't done it before. After downloading you will need another app to install them, such as iFont. I always install the fonts first and absolutely recommend doing this - there's almost nothing worse than opening my hard work and seeing it in Arial!! 😩 So make sure to install your fonts before sharing, downloading or editing your slides. This will save you loads of time!
If you absolutely love teaching with slides, check out my slide templates here. Not only do you get handmade, uniquely designed layouts, but it also includes samples of how each slide can be used in a classroom. Don't worry, I've already done the font pairing for you! 😉
The important take away points from today's lesson are:
use fonts that work together
use two fonts (display and body)
less is more!
Happy learning and teaching, teacher friends!
PS. Did you know that you can get an absolutely FREE teaching resource from me each month? It's true! Sign up to my monthly newsletter and get something unique, creative and beautiful for your classroom every month 🥰