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Game Changing PowerPoint Design Hack: Icons are the New Bullet Points [Part 1]

Game Changing PowerPoint Design Hack: Icons are the New Bullet Points [Part 1]

Anuj Malhotra

Anuj Malhotra

April 2 2016

This post summarizes the importance of using icons in presentation slides. Icons add visual appeal and make an otherwise text-heavy slide stand out. It applies to all presentation topics and industries. This post covers all industries starting from alphabet A to alphabet E and shows their respective icons. Locate your industry below and see how icons can transform the look and feel of your slide.


Forget the 1-6-6 slide rule or the 10-20-30 slide rule or any other PowerPoint advice you have heard till now. If you remember to use this one rule that we are about to show you, then you can guarantee yourself a professional and memorable presentation.


What’s the rule? Icon + Text = Memorable Slide.


ALWAYS accompany your message with its respective icon. These small visual representations of a concept reduce all complex messages to one little shape. It takes a split second to understand what the icon is signifying. For instance, everyone knows that a bulb represents an idea or innovation, a magnifying glass represents search, a key represents solution or opportunity and so on.


Why Use the Icon Hack in Your Presentation?


1. Bullet Points Kill Presentations

Bullet points are bad. Let us revise this statement to- A slide full of ONLY bullet points is bad, very bad. It’s not fitting to call that Word Document a slide even.


We get it- Not every presentation is a slideshow on nature’s beauty or fashion trends that can have absolutely zero text and one outstanding visual after another. Most presenters aren’t that lucky and have to present on complex topics that need to be explained and elaborated upon.


That doesn’t however give them the license to dump all their written matter on to the slide, break it into bullet points and read it verbatim. So much has this been done (and is still being done) that the term “Death by PowerPoint” came to be coined and bullet points was chiefly to be blamed for this.


2. Icons Enhance Recall of Slide

So what to do when you have ample content on your slide? First of all, avoid writing complete sentences. The content on slides is meant to be a pointer and gist of what you say, not a script.  As a rule of thumb, have 6 or less words in each point.


Secondly, have an icon for each point. Whenever the audience sees an icon and text together, their brain does a subconscious exercise of associating the two and see how the visual element relates to the text. The two reinforce each other and this increases the recollection of the slide.


3. Like the Apple’s catchphrase “There’s an App for that”, There’s an Icon for That!

Are you thinking “This is easier said than done. My content does not lend itself to any icon.” You are WRONG! Surely, there’s an icon for that! Every message can be reduced to a icon.


If it cannot, then your message is a mess- with or without icon, it won’t be understood at all.


Why Use Icons in Your Slides


4. Icon is the Easiest Hack on Earth

We know you are hard pressed on time. You do not have the luxury to fiddle with PowerPoint toolbars, typography and shapes to create artistic slides. You are not a graphic designer. Besides, not every slide lends itself to an image so easily.  


That’s what makes Icons the game changing PowerPoint design hack. Just type the keyword, find the icon, download it and deliver in style.


Other Advantages of Using Icons in Design


In short, following are the benefits of using icons in designing your presentation slides:


  • Being a visual element, they are more eye-catchy
  • They are more than just an eye-candy, they are understood faster than plain text and aid in retention. It’s a fact human brain processes visual information faster than text
  • Reinforce the textual content visually
  • Transcend language barriers as many icons are universally understood (thumbs up for appreciation, star for favorites or bookmarking, loudspeaker for an important announcement and so on)
  • Break the clutter and bring visual relief without using too much space
  • Lend personality to your brand


Now, let’s sum up the above points with the use of icons:


Advantages of Using Icons in your Designs


Wasn’t it easier and much faster to go through the icon slide than read through the bullet points? And definitely more aesthetically appealing. As we mentioned in the post beginning, this applies to all presentation topics and industries. So, no need to feel left out.


List of Industries starting A to E and their Icons

For the brevity of this post, we have taken up 20 industries starting from alphabet A  till alphabet E. Industries next in the alphabetical order will be covered in Part 2. Since your presentation topic might cover several fields and industries, you can check out the different icons pertaining to each industry in the slides below and use that knowledge to create outstanding, professional slides.


1. Accounting Industry

“Accounts is boring and accountants are boring too.” That’s the general perception people have. By that standard, presentations on this industry must be considered boring too. Time to change this perception. Even if the audience comprises chartered accountants themselves, there’s no need to bombard them with heavy jargons and numbers. Let icons infuse visual freshness into your presentations.


Accounting Industry Qualitative Characteristics

Check out our Finance PowerPoint Icons Collection.


2. Advertising Industry

A presentation on a field as visually enriching as advertising should have no slide containing  just plain, boring text. Advertising concepts and promotions are often part of many a business presentation too. When outlining the product launch strategy and the pre-launch and post-launch promotions, you often need to show the different advertising mediums you are going in for. Whether it is billboards, mobile ads, print ads, or television advertising, you can easily point out your advertising strategy and budget allocation using icons.


Advertising Industry Presentation Slide


3. Aerospace/Aviation Industry

Ever seen the Arrival-Departure Board without their respective icons? Everybody understands the taking off of an airplane to signify departure and landing down as arrival. Icons are understood by people of all nationalities and transcend language differences. Utilize the commonly known icons to explain aviation industry reports and problems.


Aerospace/ Aviation Industry Presentation Slide


4. Agriculture Industry

Hundreds and thousands of presentations are given daily on agriculture- new techniques, organic farming, initiatives for higher yield, best practices and pro-farmer initiatives. These presentations could benefit a lot by using lesser text, visuals and icons. Be it a tractor, fertilizer, crop or pesticide, the same can be easily depicted with its respective icon. Since they take up little space, you get ample slide space to put across your points.


Agriculture Industry Presentation Slide


5. Apparel and Accessories

Aha! These presentations should have no dearth of visuals. There’s no excuse for the presentation to be text-heavy and a dull affair. Still, the author of the presentation might want to explain in little detail the new trends and how to match accessories and apparel for the perfect look. Let icons make for the perfect look of your slide. In some slides, icons would even look better than a visual. For instance, if there is a slide on five things you should carry at a beach, icons of those items would be better than having five visuals compete for attention and create an overcrowded slide.


Apparel and Accessories Presentation Slide


6. Architecture

The creative field of architecture that helps people and businesses design the home, offices, public buildings, or industries of their dreams should also build aesthetic presentations. Those working on industrial and commercial projects closely work with other departments and guide the construction process from start till finish. The communication can greatly be facilitated via simple and professional slides that include icons and content for each step. Whether an architect is working on industry design or residential, each aspect can be represented aesthetically via an icon.


Architecture Presentation Slide

Browse our collection of Architecture Icons and download the ones you like.


7. Auto Industry

Traffic congestion on roads does not have to be replicated on slides by dumping piles of text and bullet points. If your presentation is on car loan or the problems facing the automobile industry, you can break chunks of text into easily readable points with the use of icons. If you are a car dealer or services provider, you can easily highlight the services provided with their respective icons. Engine oil, car keys, car breakdown, brakes, tyres, towing truck, car security and all such automobile concepts are best depicted through vector icons.


Auto Industry Presentation Slide


8. Banking Industry

Banking industry also suffers the same boring perception amongst people as they have towards accounting. Reason is the same- content laced with industry jargon, no visual support and one dot point after another. You can always do away with the explanation in the slide. Keep it for your talk. When presenters put explanation on slides, they tend to read it verbatim that screams unprofessionalism. Have the main headings along with their icon to create a polished banking slide that any layman can understand.


Presentation Slide on Banking


9. Beauty & Cosmetics

Like apparel and accessories, these presentations are expected to be classy, entertaining and visually pleasing. To give your content equal weightage in the slides, employ icons for each point. If you are using a visual, use it in the background and mask it as we did in the slide below. Icons are the perfect cosmetics to create a beautiful slide!


Beauty and Cosmetics Slide


10. Biotechnology

Check out any biotechnology presentation on Slideshare or authorSTREAM. You’ll see for yourself that bullet points are the favorite of every presenter. What to do? Like we said in the beginning, you do not have to sacrifice content to create pretty slides. But it should not look like a Word document either. Look at the slide below- it looks thousand times better than bullet-ridden slide. Icons are all that have been used to create an attention-grabbing slide.


Biotechnology Presentation Slide


11. Chemicals Industry

Chemical industry presentations suffer from the same bullet point malaise as biotechnology slides. Go back to your chemistry classes and labs. Remember the flasks, tubes, containers, thermometers, microscope, etc. Yes, those are the very icons you need to explain any chemistry lesson via PowerPoint presentations. We all know chemicals are used in the production of everyday consumer goods. Check out the slide below- How easy it is to remember those goods when the content is accompanied by the relevant icon too.


Chemical Industry Presentation Slide



12. Communications Industry

Is any communication complete without the relevant visual cue? Compare the first newspapers with modern-day ones. Or imagine a book without the visually enticing cover page (Radio is an exception.) All major media rely heavily on packaging- complimenting factual news with the perfect look. The same packaging of content in visually attractive way applies to media presentations too. Slides stating facts in bullet points will be instantly cast aside by the audiences. Use icons to substantiate the content and break the text clutter.


Communications Industry Presentation Slide

Download Communication Icons that suit your presentation needs.


13. Computers Industry

Flat design has become the trend. Use flat icons to create trendy slides. Be it a computer, laptop, hard disk, software or hardware, icons are the in-thing to represent these objects or concepts. If your presentation is on web security or any technical aspect of computers, tone down the jargons and make the slides look interesting and simple to understand with the right use of icons.


Presentation Slide on Computers


14. Construction Industry

Cranes, cement mixers, construction material, trucks, sand, bricks, bulldozers, construction site or any other concept is best depicted through icons. Explain construction trends, rules, laws, prevention and hazards through slides without making it sound and look boring. How? With icons of course.


Construction Industry Presentation Slide


15. Consulting Industry

Check out the slide below to notice the difference. Even if you ditch bullet points and use shapes to create better slides, it still looks incomplete and boring without a visual element. Rather than using stockphoto cliches to show strategic consulting or Human Resource consulting, use icons that say a lot in so little space.


Presentation Slide on Management Consulting


16. Education

Classroom presentations suffer from bullet point plague too. Even when educators are aware that most learning is visual and our brains process visual information faster than text! Yes, teachers need to retain ample content on slides to explain the course material to students but bullet points are not the way. Use icons to put across information neatly and make learning easier for students and more fun.


Education Presentation Slide

Click here to browse and download Education PowerPoint Icons.


17. Electronics Industry

You might be wondering- everybody knows what refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions and other electronic items look like; why use icons? What comes to your mind when you hear the word refrigerator? The image of the item, right. Icons that are clearly self-evident are better options than plain text. You can even do away with text and just use icons in such situations. The audiences will grasp your message put across with icons faster.


Electronics Industry Presentation Slide


18. Employment Industry

Hiring, career growth, pink slips, contract and many other employment-related terms and terminologies can be depicted visually with an icon. A boring rules and regulations slide can be spiced up with their use. An advantage of using vector icons are that they are fully editable. You can alternate the colors of icons to create a vibrant slide as we did in the slide below.


Employment Industry Presentation Slide


19. Energy

Remember the advice we gave in beginning- never include complete sentences in your points. If you can just keep the titles and remove explanations from slide, you’ll be left with a lot of white space to add visual elements and create an eye-catchy design. For instance, in the renewable sources of energy slide below, you can include just the names and their icons in the slide and explain the points via your talk.


Presentation Slide on Energy

Check out our extensive collection of Green Energy Icons for your presentation.


20. Entertainment & Recreation

This slide can be anything but boring! Who’ll want to visit an entertainment spot that has been showcased with row of bullet points! Use icons where the slides are becoming text-heavy to create a breathing and colorful slide.


Entertainment & Recreation Industry Presentation Slide


That’s all for this post. Hope you ditch the boring-to-death bullet points right away and start using PowerPoint icons to create professional, beautiful slides. Your audiences will be thankful if you do that.


Check out our PowerPoint Icons Library


Get started with creating iconic slides today. Stay tuned for part 2 for more industries and their icon sets!

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39 thoughts on “Game Changing PowerPoint Design Hack: Icons are the New Bullet Points [Part 1]”
  1. carlos prodigalidad
    carlos prodigalidad
    Very interesting! Thank you.
    1. slideteam
      Glad you liked it Carlos! Stay tuned for Part 2 :)
  2. Ochie Castro
    Eye-catching! Makes life easier for us who makes PowerPoint presentations!
    1. slideteam
      Indeed Ochie, icons really spice up a run of the mill slide and make it eye-catchy. Glad you liked the post!
  3. Prince Ramirez
    Prince Ramirez
    great article! I learned a couple of things today.. Thanks.
    1. slideteam
      We are glad to hear that Prince Ramirez! We'll be sharing more posts in this series, stay tuned. :)
  4. Gisela
    I am anxiously awaiting more ideas to get going on my next presentation. I am in the meat processing industry and hope to show some $ savings, quality improvements and sustainability claims. Thanks.
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Gisela, we have Part 2 of the post scheduled for today. You'll find more icons and layouts that you can try for your presentation. And yes, all those concepts will lend themselves easily to eye-catchy icons. Wish you all the best! :)
  5. laode
    great article
    1. slideteam
      Thank You!!!
  6. KAM
    Nice Iconography....Would be nice if you had sets that looked more on the real side, as opposed to these cartoon types.
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Kam. Can you please point out which icon sets in particular are you talking about? We'll make it as real as possible. :)
  7. Katrina
    I use your icons ALL THE TIME in my presentations and they truly are game-changing! I would like to know if there are specific search tips and tricks that could help me find icons needed quicker than I do today. I use the search box every time I am looking for something specific, and typically try many different keywords or key phrases to try and generate a match. If there are any ways to search for icons using keywords or concepts in a quicker and more effective fashion, I would be grateful to learn of them. Keep up the great work!
    1. slideteam
      It's great to hear Katrina that you use icons all the time! Regarding tips to find the best icons quicker, we can suggest you choose your sub category from the left navigation panel under Icons. Or even try Google's search engine and restrict your search to SlideTeam using this format (e.g. "handshake icon site:"). Google throws up interesting results too. If you are stuck anytime while finding an icon, you can always take the assistance of our live support team. :) Sorry for the late reply!
      1. Rich
        to follow on that question, i too get too many results even if I add keywords. Here is a question. I would like to get Icons that I can edit (change color, have transparent background to place over another item, high quality and no rough edges). What file type am I searching for to get these types of files to narrow my results. Thank you.
        1. slideteam
          Hi Rich, we provide fully editable icons on our website. Check out this link- You can easily come to know which are image icons and which are vector ones. Download the vector icons and make as many changes to them as you want. Hope this helps.
  8. Bill
    While I agree that icons are a big help, you are actually using much more than icons to increase the viability of the presentations that you are changing - colours, fonts, layouts and background graphics are also contributing factors.

    And in your lead in example, you significantly shortened the bulleted text in addition to the above factors.

    Replacing bullets with icon graphics alone would increase the effectiveness of these presentations, but the other factors have multiplied that effect.
    1. slideteam
      Definitely Bill. Icons alone will make the slide look good too. We thought of giving layout ideas at the same time to our users. It's true this is multiplying the effect. Plus, as we mentioned in the article, we should try to shorten the bulleted points as much as possible. Glad you observed all these points. :)
  9. dani jones
    Hey guys. Great article!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much Dani!!!
  10. Adonia
    Fabulous Idea! That's good "out the box" thinkjing!
  11. Adonia
    Fabulous Idea! That's good "out the box" thinking!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much Adonia!!! Glad you liked our ideas. :)
  12. Sri
    Stunning visual treat, love to see some slides to teach kids
    1. slideteam
      That's great to hear Sri! Hope you checked out our Part 2 Icons post too
  13. Sonam Tamrakar
    Sonam Tamrakar
    Loved your ideas. However, in the line "The content on slides is meant to be a pointer and gyst of what you say, not a script. ", I think "gyst" must be spelled "gist" unless you mean "get your sh*t together". Just found out that's what gyst stands for. ha ha..
    1. slideteam
      Ha ha thank you Sonam for pointing that out. Yes it is a typo error. :D
  14. Mon
    Great and interesting article.
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Mon!
  15. Joanna
    I feel inspired! Thanks so much!
    1. slideteam
      That feels great to hear Joanna, you are most welcome! :)
  16. BSV
    Good observation. It is true that Icons improve the grasp of info.
    1. slideteam
      Thank you. And yes, Icons add value to content and being visuals, are grasped faster than plain text.
  17. Neil Smith
    "You do not have the luxury to fiddle with PowerPoint toolbars, typography and shapes to create artistic slides."

    Agree - one of the annoying things with SlideShare however, is that you show 4 icons at a time, embedded within a ppt.

    How about making a true icon library, where we can download a zipy of the sets with more than 4 icons....?

    1. slideteam
      Hi Neil, you are right- we played with layouts and shapes too in this tutorial. But even if you leave that out, icons alone will drastically change the look of your slide. If you plan to use icons in slides, you will automatically tend to change the slide layout- you won't put icons next to bullet points! And thank you for sharing the feedback regarding an icon library. I have forwarded the same to the management and indeed, they are working on making icons more easily accessible and exhaustive. Thanks again!
  18. Piyush
    This was a very interesting article. Although i had already started using icons in my ppts, this article gave me a whole lot of more ideas ! thanks Slideteam !
    1. slideteam
      Glad you found more ideas through this post. Thanks for the appreciation, Piyush!
  19. Jaime Culaniban
    Jaime Culaniban
    Amazing article/icons. I have utilized some of your Free Powerpoint Slides during the conduct of my training[s] and meetings facilitation. The result left an impressive mark in every participant/peer and Supervisor I've contact with. Thank you so much.
    1. slideteam
      We are glad to hear that, Jaime! Thanks for the appreciation. :)
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