Criticism of PowerPoint

Edward Rolf Tufte (1942-) has criticized the way Microsoft PowerPoint is typically used.

In his essay "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint", Tufte criticizes many aspects of the software:





Tufte argues that the way PowerPoint was used by NASA engineers in the events leading to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster is an example of the presentation software's many significant problems. The software style is designed to persuade rather than to inform people of technical details. Tufte's analysis of a NASA PowerPoint slide is included in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board’s report—including an engineering detail buried in small type on a crowded slide with six bullet points, that if presented in a regular engineering white paper, might have been noticed and the disaster prevented.[11][12]

Instead, Tufte argues that the most effective way of presenting information in a technical setting, such as an academic seminar or a meeting of industry experts, is by distributing a brief written report that can be read by all participants in the first 5 to 10 minutes of the meeting. Tufte believes that this is the most efficient method of transferring knowledge from the presenter to the audience and then the rest of the meeting is devoted to discussion and debate.[13]

Small multiple

One method Tufte encourages to allow quick visual comparison of multiple series is the small multiple, a chart with many series shown on a single pair of axes that can often be easier to read when displayed as several separate pairs of axes placed next to each other. It's particularly helpful when the series are measured on quite different vertical (y-axis) scales, but over the same range on the horizontal x-axis (usually time).