Better Presentations–Fonts

This is part of a series of tips for speakers to make your presentations better.

Please, please, please, learn how to set up your machine to look good on screen.

I saw Brent Ozar write a few notes on how to make your presentations better recently. This was primarily for the people presenting at the PASS Summit, with a few specifics to that event. Buck Woody also had a mini rant about sizing the fonts on your laptop.

Both are worth reading. The visual display of your work can overcome some poor speaking habits. Likewise, great speaking performances overcome some poor visual displays. Having both fail means your presentation may fail.

Note by failure, I mean that the attendees don’t like the talk and lose out on information because they’re bothered by the way your session appears. This could be at a conference, a SQL Saturday, or a lunch and learn at work.

Increase Fonts

To move on from Buck’s post, change the defaults in SSMS. Paul Randal has a nice post on configuring SSMS. Read it and try it.

I go for 14 point fonts, but note that you need to set Text and Grid results separately and restart SSMS. Do this before you walk in front of people.

It’s easy to do in SSMS. Click the Tools and then Options menu items. You’ll get a dialog like this, and on the left, under Environment, there’s a Fonts and Colors selection. Click it.


The top drop down on the right controls the section of SSMS. Query Windows are the Text Editor items. Below this, I have a font (Consolas) and a size (14). Below that on the left I have the various items in the Text Editor I can change fonts for. There are so many settings that this could be a weeklong project.

I usually just change the “Plain Text” to 14. I don’t’ worry about the others, but if you use other items in your presentation (like line numbers), change them.

If you select the top drop down, you’ll see this


These are the other places you can change fonts. The two I want to point out (I use them) are the Grid Results about 2/3 of the way down and Text Results a few below that. Change both of these font sizes, though you’ll have to restart SSMS.

If you make these changes, your attendees might not thank you, but they’ll be less likely to complain. Even in the largest rooms, 14 points seems to reach to the back of the room. And if it doesn’t, learn to zoom.

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  1. Pingback: Making Better Presentations–Tips and Tricks | Voice of the DBA

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