Know Your Aspect Ratios or View a Mismatched Presentation


Whether you opt for a Standard Definition or a High Definition presentation, you’ll need to adjust your presentation image to fit screen size.  Standard Definition screens typically use a 4:3 aspect ratio, and High Definition generally uses 16:9.  This is an important distinction because the shape of the resulting image displays differently on a screen.  (Side note: Interestingly, the human eye sees in 16:9.)


When creating a video, PowerPoint slide, or image for your presentation, you should confirm that the image’s aspect ratio matches the screen aspect ratio. If you don’t match them up, in order to fit the whole image on the screen you will have black bars like these.


By not creating your presentation or cropping your image to the correct aspect ratio, the program will automatically either cut off or stretch your image to fit the ratio it needs.  This results in mismatched screen images throughout your presentation with black bars across the top or sides.  Not a good look.

There is easy to fix. In PowerPoint you can adjust the aspect ratio of your presentation simply by going to the Design Menu/Page Setup and selecting either 4:3 or 16:9.


But Wait, There’s More Screen Sizes

There are many screen sizes depending on the projector or monitor you’ll be using.  However, no matter what the actual screen size, the aspect ratio will either be 4:3 or 16:9.  Here’s a simple chart to see what ratio you use for various screen sizes.


Confused?  Using your own monitor day in and day out, it’s easy to forget about other screen sizes.  If you’re not sure what to use, here’s a hint:  reserve your A/V projection screens needs ahead of time and know the exact aspect ratio before you start creating your presentation.  Or be prepared to refresh all the material to match the projection screen size afterwards. Either way, to have a professional looking presentation, at some point you’ll have to match the aspect ratio of the image to the A/V screen.

We do this day in and day out and can help you determine the correct way to proceed. Just give us a call – we’ll be glad to help out.


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