Issue #131 April 3, 2007

PowerPoint Tip – Color Contrast Calculator

One of the most common audience complaints about PowerPoint slides is that the presenter picked colors that don’t have enough contrast. This means that text, lines, shapes or graphs can’t be seen well on the slide and the message is negatively affected. If you don’t have a background in design, how do you ensure that the colors you have chosen have enough contrast? This same complaint was made about early web sites, so the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created a standard that tests the contrast between two colors. There are actually two tests. The first is for color brightness contrast. This measures the difference in brightness between two colors. The second test is for color difference, which measures the difference between the attributes of two colors. Both tests are calculations that use the Red, Green and Blue (RGB) attributes of the two colors to determine if there is enough difference between the two colors. The RGB attributes of any color are easily seen in the Custom tab of the color selection dialog box when you are selecting a color for a background, text, line, shape or area fill. You are probably saying about now, “OK Dave, enough with the theoretical stuff, how can I make this work for me?” Glad you asked. I am launching today an online Color Contrast Calculator that you can use to test your background color and a color you are thinking of using for text, a line, a shape or to fill an area on a graph. The page also contains detailed instructions on how to find the RGB attributes of a color and some ideas on what you can do to improve the contrast of two colors if they don’t pass the tests. The page is . I have also included a button on the page to bookmark this web page for your future use. And if you want to be able to access the page from within PowerPoint, I’ve given instructions on how you can add a toolbar button to your copy of PowerPoint that will take you directly to this calculator with one mouse click in PowerPoint. Feel free to make use of this new tool and pass it on to as many others as you want to. By getting better contrast on our slides, we make it easier for our audiences to see and understand our message. If you want to go beyond just selecting colors and create your own custom look for your slides, check out my e-book at .