One of the biggest changes in presentations has been the move from 4:3 slides to 16:9 (widescreen) slides. This widescreen format is so popular because it is used with most projectors and TV sets you’ll see in use today.

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What Are 4:3 and 16:9?

PowerPoint has shifted to the standard of 16:9 widescreen since 2013. 4:3 looks like an old square screen while 16:9 looks more rectangular e.g. smartphones, modern laptops, modern TVs, etc.

You Will Find The Old Format Still Being Used in Many Places

After all, not all projectors have been replaced yet. If you have to give a 16:9 widescreen presentation on a 4:3 screen, you’ll have to deal with fitting the whole thing on a small screen and showing people really small text which may be too small to read, or the left and right sides of the slide will not be on the screen, and may not even be visible.

Determining What Aspect Ratio To Use

First of all, refer to the organizers of the event where you’ll be speaking. Ask them about the projector or monitor that they’ll be using. Most of the time, they will have an aspect ratio of 16:9, but in rare cases it might be 4:3. This gives you an opportunity to change your PowerPoint slides to the correct aspect ratio when there’s still time.

When The Organizer Does Not Know For Sure 

In some cases they might not know for sure. For example, they might have two sets of projectors and you might get the 4:3 projector in your room. Our suggestion is to stick to the 4:3 format if you’re not really sure which one you’ll get.

This is because 4:3 slides are still completely visible on a 16:9 ratio screen. While 16:9 ratio slides are cut off from both sides if viewed on a boxed 4:3 screen.

In Conclusion

While most presentations are made and delivered on a 16:9 (widescreen), you might still run into cases where an old projector is being used to give presentations. It is usually better to ask the organizers of the event beforehand.