How can you proof your presentation to be 100% error-free? I call it the ‘Margin of Error’ approach. Here’s how…

Click on the audio file below to listen to this blog post (4.27mins)

Audio recording of the blog post entitled Margin of Error – an alternative way of proofing presentations

I recently commented on a LinkedIn post that talked about the benefits of focussing on one thing at a time instead of several.

Presentations and proofing

The world of presentations is no different.

If you work on presentations (and use the corporate template), your job is to ensure the presentation is 100% ready to go out the door. Moreover, it can be tricky when slides have come from different authors and different decks.

You spend time designing charts and diagrams, editing or moving around text, and improving the presentation flow. Now it’s ready. Or is it?

Presentation proofing – traditionally slide by slide

You do one last check: slide-by-slide you see if everything is where it should be. That’s a lot of checks for just one slide that you’ll then have to repeat for the next slide and the slide after that. Add to that effort of concentration you might find a blip and think ‘I’ll get back to that afterwards to see if I can find it on any other slides”.

Presentation proofing – alternative: the Margin of Error approach

Instead of the above approach, here’s a really simple visual aid to ensure no errors exist after you’ve proofed your presentation.

Think of your presentation as if it were a finished painting (yes a painting). It’s now time to find a picture frame that finishes it off. In Presentation Land,  that translates into checking your presentation margin-by-margin and not slide-by-slide. Simply put, your four margins (top, bottom, right, left) are represented by gridlines that would have been added to the presentation template. See below a downloadable 2-page PDF that shows a simple overview of how to check your deck of slides one margin at a time.

What to look for

Take the whole deck of slides and scan your eye solely across the top margin, working through the deck. Once completed, do exactly the same for the bottom margin, the right and finally the left margin.


Top margin – Is the font size correct, is it the right font; is the colour correct; does the text start in the right place; do you need to reset the slide?

Bottom margin – Have logos been added; are footnotes spilling into the safe area that’s meant to be left clean; are the page numbers correct or poorly formatted?

Right margin – Do text or shapes spill over the right margin?

Left margin – Do text or shapes start before the left margin?


If you apply this focused approach, I’m confident you will not have any margin of error. If you don’t have gridlines as part of your presentation template, reach out for a chat.

Other references

Here’s a great article about how to avoid distractions and increase your focus.

Penny for your thoughts?