Search Results for: powerpoint

Adding photo credits to Powerpoint shows

UPDATE: please see this page for updated slides and additional tips.

Here are tips for educators on how to attribute images in a Powerpoint slide deck (hit pause button to assert manual control of the slide advance).  The tips are focused on the logistics of attribution (placement, text color, etc.) since the law aspect is, um, complicated.  It’s just a draft, so if you have suggestions, let me know in comments or via email.  I made it because very, very few educators seem to provide image credits.  Or at least the ones who post their slides online …

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In other news, my other thoughts on Powerpoint.

And, since you’re reading below the fold … any advice on getting WordPress to display Powerpoint slides so that URLs work?  I’ve tried several plug-ins, but nothing seems to work.

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Citing text in Powerpoint presentations

I created the PDF below because many students who post their talks on the internet seem to think it’s OK to plagiarize when using Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.  It’s just six slides because the average person will get bored after the first slide, when references to elevator romance abruptly stop.  It ends on a few issues that have short answers, but you can add the details if you want.  If you can help spread the word, great.

Citing sources in an oral presentationPlease also see Kyle D. Stedman’s article on annoying sources.  And if you need a laugh, I highly recommend The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotations.  (Search for Colin Purrington if you’d like to see my contributions.)

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Powerpoint plagiarism

Open up a Powerpoint or Prezi show on the Internet and it is likely to be packed with text and images copied from others: no quotation marks and no image attributions.  I think this is unfortunate, but not surprising — kids probably learn to plagiarize in grade school from their teachers, and then they watch their college professors do the same.  When students graduate and get jobs that require them to post slide decks on the internet, they’ll do the same: use other people’s text and images without indicating that that’s what they’ve done.

Powerpoint plagiarismBut why don’t teachers use quotation marks and attributions?  Teachers ask their students to cite sources on papers, so teachers clearly know about academic honesty in writing.  Here are my guesses:

  1. Teachers think that quotation marks and attribution text ruin the aesthetics of their slides.
  2. Teachers think citing others for copied text and images undermines their authority in class.
  3. Teachers know it’s wrong to plagiarize (and steal copyrighted images) but are busy and hope nobody will notice/complain.

For many teachers, it’s probably a little of all three.  And about #3, I’m left wondering why so many teachers place their plagiarized slide decks on the internet for the whole world to examine, rather than hiding them behind Blackboard and Moodle like everyone else does.

Given the common Powerpoint plagiarism by teachers, one might think education/teacher organizations would develop clear policies urging their members not to plagiarize (and not to use uncredited, copyrighted images).  The only statement on this topic I’ve found so far is from the American Historical Association (website):

“All who participate in the community of inquiry, as amateurs or as professionals, as students or as established historians, have an obligation to oppose deception. This obligation bears with special weight on teachers…”

More groups should plagiarize that sentence.

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I was asked on Twitter if I could clarify my views on text justification for conference posters, but decided I couldn’t come up with a good 140 character response. So here you go:

fabric-postersI recommend left-justified research posters for several reasons. First, I read in some typography/readability article (can’t find reference but will keep looking) that your brain subconsciously uses the ragged right edge to better gauge vertical reading position, allowing reader to more quickly travel through a paragraph. This matters less if you have good space between lines of text, but matters a lot if you’ve squished lines together to fit more on your poster (unfortunately, a very common scenario). Second, left-justified text has more predictable spaces within and between words, and that consistency makes sentences easier (faster) to read. Fully justified text can be especially awful when column widths are too small, and for smaller text boxes like figure and table legends. As an example of how awful those space problems can be, here’s an artificial dem on stration. These spacing issues are much bigger problems for people with dyslexia (20% of people, perhaps) and other reading disorders. That said, typesetting software such as InDesign have really good controls for minimizing the spacing problems of fully justified text. And some fonts (often the ones you have to actually purchase) are good at spacing themselves. Third, left-justified paragraphs suffer much less from the rivers and pigeonholes of white space that are sometimes created by full justification. These distracting visual elements are probably more of a problem for people or disciplines that are fond of big words, which coincidentally are those that love to have poster sessions. You can minimize rivers and pigeonholes by turning on automatic hyphenation, of course. In related news, Powerpoint doesn’t do auto-hyphenation, which makes it terrible for posters because you typically want to cram as much on a page as possible. Finally, errors in spaces between sentences (you just need one) are much easier to catch if you are using left justification.

But there are at least two reasons why you might reasonably ignore what I’ve written above. First, full justification looks so cool! If you want people to think you’re cool and professional, and you probably do, you might just go ahead and hit that button … because most viewers (and mentors, and poster judges) will also be similarly impressed. Unless they’re dyslexic, in which case they might hate you. A compounding problem is that justification looks cooler and cooler as you reduce font size … contributing to the word problem that plagues almost all conference posters. Second, there seems to be some research (again, I’m looking for citations I know I have somewhere) suggesting that full justification might increase a reader’s comprehension of the text. My guess is comprehension increases because one reads it more slowly. Changing the font every sentence might also increase comprehension in the same way, though I don’t recommend doing that. (Hyphenated paragraphs take longer to read, too.)

By the way, don’t center-justify text in figure legends and table captions. Many prestigious journals use centered text in this way, but I think they’d change to left justification if they could do so without admitting to prior foolishness.

As an aside, I recently purchased a Kobo eReader because I can specify left-justification. I couldn’t do that with my Kindle. I can also now read while floating in a pool (my Kobo is waterproof).

If for some reason the above didn’t bore you, please see more of the same at Designing conference posters. Drop me a note if you have actual data for any of the above speculation.

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Adding photo creds to talk slides

Below are examples of how to credit photographers for images you use in lectures. Also, some reasons why adding credits is especially important if you have impressionable students in the room.

Slide01Slideshows in dimly lit rooms have been putting audiences to sleep since the 1840s, long before Powerpoint, Prezi, and related software perfected the process. And for these shows, there’s been a long tradition of not giving credit to the photographers who made the images. For example, on magic lantern slides and 35mm slides – but the credit usually did appear on the image frame, so at least the speaker knew the origin and details. That’s changed. Now speakers are using images they find on the internet and quickly paste into their shows to interrupt the painful sequences of bullet points and text too small too read. Attribution is rarely given, and the speaker doesn’t know, doesn’t care.

Slide02(The slide above is unattributed, as an example.) So why should attribution be shared with the audience? One way to answer that is to ask the question, why should slideshows be any different than books, articles, and websites? Everyone accepts that photographers should get credit in those mediums (right?). Images on a slide should be attributed just like any quoted text should be cited (and enclosed within quotation marks). Providing image attribution and text citations allows a speaker to humbly acknowledge his/her debt to others. The opposite of this humble and clear acknowledgment is to pretend that copied text and copied images are the speaker’s. Attributions are useful, plus they are really, really easy to add.

Slide03This photograph has a textbox that is formatted to have a black background, and the text is a subtle gray. Yes, I know that’s hard to read — that’s sort of the point. Audience is supposed to be paying attention to you (because you’re fascinating), not reading all the photo creds. If you’re boring, of course, they’ll be reading the photo creds, so be sure they don’t have typos. There are several ways to format your attribution.

Slide04 Note that there are no rules about what information to include in an attribution, but photographer’s name is most important. But if all you have is a URL, use that! Also note that if you hate Powerpoint and Prezi (or are just lazy), Haiku Deck generates image credits automatically … you just search for images from within the program. [The hotlinks don’t work in the above (it’s just an image), so here are the links: Creative Commons image types, roadkill possum.]

Slide05Photographers rarely have clear instructions to teachers regarding photo usage, so it’s always a good idea to ask. When contacting them, always remember to praise them (e.g., “Wow, that possum is really cute!!”). They might even have a better version for you to use. They might say no, but if you’re a teacher, chances are you can use it anyway (because of the “fair use” clause of U.S. Copyright Act).

Slide06 Slide09The problem with vertical text, of course, is that it’s annoying to edit. But it’s perfect if you have photographs and images with 4 x 3 aspect ratio — just format your slides for 16 x 9 presentations, which leaves a big chunk of space on the side for attributions.

Slide10The above might seem silly, but if you have a room full of impressionable students, they will absorb what you did and (perhaps) model your due diligence when they start boring people with their own talks. By the way, I have the Tineye button on my browser and use it all the time: works like a charm. [Here are the links from the above slide: Jeffrey’s Exif viewer, Tineye Reverse Image Search, Google Inside Search.]

Slide11Yeah, I really hate end-of-talk image credits.  This is the main reason I created this whole page … I’m trying to stamp out this practice. Yes, I know it’s futile.

Slide12URLs from above:,,

image-attribution-in-powerpointIf you want an example of #3, this: perhaps you took a photograph and somebody in audience wants to know how tall an object was.  Given your position and eye height when you took photograph, might be possible to estimate — so make it easy for them to contact you.

Slide13This is the part that many teachers choose to ignore. Especially teachers that are trying to make a name for themselves as Free Range, Open Source MOOC gurus.  They think that because they are hip and work at an educational institution, they have a blanket waiver to use other people’s images and then post the slides to and such for the whole world to download and reuse.  They probably know that sharing such files online is illegal (if they’ve used copyrighted images without first purchasing them), but they think it’s still OK … just like kids think it’s OK to share song files as long as they don’t get caught.  But aside from the legal issues, publishing copyrighted photographs and illustrations on the internet is simply unkind to the photographers and illustrators on this planet — it reduces their ability to make a living, plus removes the control that an artist might want for an image.  E.g., she might want a particular photograph to appear only in the context of a larger body of photographs.

Slide14Links: The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons, Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare, Washington State University Fair Use Guidelines,UCLA Drops Copyrighted Videos From Course Web Sites After Legal Threat,The TEACH Act. Also, this is great: Cite and Attribute Your Sources.

Slide15Plea: there are a lot of teachers out there who didn’t get the memo about image credits.  If you can share this page somehow, I’d be grateful.

If you are really bored, here are my some of my posts on the evils of Powerpoint.  And here are my other tip pages.