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16:9 or 4:3 – Aspect Ratio for Presentations

The question cannot be answered in general terms. If one uses PowerPoint as diversely as I do, then one knows that each medium requires its own format. I will go into more detail below.

16:9 has many advantages

From a design perspective, 16:9 is perfect for presentations; it offers more width, which gives text and images more space. Also, full-screen images can have their full effect on the wide surface. This format is perfect for most screens since presentations often take place on screens and televisions in this format. If you plan to print the presentation, then stay with 16:9, as it prints well on A4 paper.

9:16 the new format

This format is not recommended for presentations. If you want to publish your presentation or slides on social media as an animated video, then 9:16 is exactly right.

4:3 has its justification

Design aspects make the 4:3 format not ideal. The limited width does not allow for much white space, causing layouts often to appear cramped. The design flexibility is very limited. I use this format for client PowerPoint templates for their social media ads. Also, in presentations using projectors, there may not be enough width available at some locations. In short: it is good to use for older screens, where space is limited, and for advertisements.

Präsentation und Bildschirmgröße

How to calculate 16:9 in cm

It sounds simple, but this question is asked over and over again. How can one determine the page size? How often has it happened to you, the client wants the file to be at least A4 size on the long side, but the aspect ratio is 16:9. This happens to me all the time. In some programs, like PowerPoint, you can set the 16:9 aspect ratio, but then you don’t know how large the longest side is. If the file is supposed to be A4 on the longest side, then you have to calculate it.

This is how it works:

The aspect ratio is: 16 / 9 equals 1.77777…. 4 / 3 equals 1.33333…

The client wants to print on A4 later: The long side of A4 is 29.7 cm. So it is calculated: 29.7 / 1.77 = 16.78

The page is 29.7 x 16.78 cm in 16:9 format.