Capitalization of Headlines; Issue #413 May 1, 2018

After my customized workshops, one of the key take-aways people say they will implement is to write headlines for their slides instead of titles. A headline is a summary of the key message you want the audience to understand from this slide. It forces you to be clear on that message and restricts you to one message per slide.

Think of the slide headline like the headline of a newspaper story. News organizations write headlines for each story so you get the key information quickly and can decide to read the details if you want to. Your slide headline serves the same purpose for your audience. They get your key message quickly and can then focus on the details that you share.

Not only is the headline good for the audience, it is also good for you as the presenter. You can glance at the slide headline, know the one message you need to get across, deliver it confidently, and then move on to the next slide.

One question I often get after I discuss the value of headlines is whether the headline should be in title case, all capitals, or sentence case. Title case capitalizes each word and is what most of us were taught for slides since the default title placeholder says, “Click to add title”. All capitals was a way to add emphasis in the past but with the advent of social media, it is considered shouting or screaming. Sentence case capitalizes only the first word and proper names.

Which one do I suggest you use for slide headlines? Let’s look at an example in each of these formats.

Title case: Average Transaction Amount Is Consistent Across Regions


Sentence case: Average transaction amount is consistent across regions

I think we can easily agree that all capitals should not be used because it is harder to read and today is considered shouting. Unfortunately I still see presenters use all capitals including last fall at a conference. Since the headline is a sentence, I suggest that you use sentence case instead of title case. It is easier for your audience to read. That allows them to quickly focus on what you are saying and they expend less effort reading the headline leaving more energy to pay attention to your message.

When you are creating your slides, write a headline that summarizes the key message and format it in sentence case to best serve your audience and yourself. If you create slides to present the results of analysis, this article gives you a template to use.

By Dave Paradi

Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don't overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 4.8 million times and liked over 17,000 times on YouTube.