Create a Slide

Each slide has a short time frame to tell a story. Well designed concise messages are critical.

Average attention span of viewers = 7 ± 2 seconds 

The following specs relate specifically to slides created in design programs and uploaded to Scala CMS. 

Visit the University Communications Toolbox for information on branding, logos, colors, fonts as well as stock photos that can be used in slides.

Design for Accessibility Checklist

Does your slide promote an event that is open to the public? Remember to include the University’s accessibility statement: 

For a disability accommodation, visit

To comply with ADA standards, anyone creating slides is responsible for meeting these standards:

  • If promoting news, events, deadlines,etc. the information should exist elsewhere on your website. Digital signage should not be the sole source of information distribution.
  • Use text colors that have high contrast with the background color.
  • Use sans-serif fonts.
  • Keep your font sizes large, especially for your main messages. 100 point text is readable from 25 feet; 35 point text is readable from 7 feet.
  • Ensure adequate spacing between each element and between letters.
  • Design for color blindness: Avoid red/green and other problematic combinations.

Visit Appalachian’s Accessibility webpage for general accessibility guidelines relating to creating accessible content.

Visit Getting Started to view Appalachian's mounting accessibility guidelines. 

Acceptable File Formats

Scala CMS supports images (jpeg, png or gif) or videos (mp4) for uploads 

  • Does not support PDFs, PowerPoint presentations or Google Slides


  • Short videos are appropriate for digital signage (30 seconds or less)
  • Because most campus players are not audio-enabled, your video should not rely on sound to convey your message - consider using images with text
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark) is an easy-to-use tool for making simple videos (see Suggested Design Programs block)

Size & Orientation

  • 1920 x 1080 pixels*
  • Landscape/widescreen orientation (16:9 aspect ratio)

Quick Tip: Leave a border (padding) or "safe space" around the slide to ensure text/graphics are not cut off.

*Frameset sizes/layouts may vary - ask your SCALA administrator for details!

Scala sizing image: 1920px x 1080px / 16:9 aspect ratio


Ask yourself: What is the most critical information?

  • Guiding questions: Who?... What?... When?... Where?... Why it Matters?
  • When in doubt, leave it out!
  • If promoting news, events, deadlines,etc. the information should exist elsewhere on your website - digital signage should not be the sole source of information distribution
  • Messages promoting events open to the public must include the University’s accessibility statement: For a disability accommodation, visit
  • QR codes are not recommended for digital signage
    • If you choose to include one, also include the web address in text form (Note: do not include https or www - example:

Fonts & Readability

Choosing the right font and font style can make or break your signage!

  • Keep it simple
  • Large font sizes and minimal text - titles, highlights or bullets - avoid paragraphs
    • 100+ point text suggested for headings (readable from 25 feet away)
    • Avoid anything smaller than 35 point (readable from seven (7) feet away)
  • Use standard sans serif fonts (including Arial, Avant Garde, Geneva, Helvetica) and limit to two
    • Stick to the basics - some fonts may not render properly on all players
  • Avoid overuse of all CAPS, bold or italics
  • Ensure adequate spacing (10 to 35% of stroke for letter spacing, 35-70% of letter height for line spacing) between each element and between letters

Quick Tip: Use the 3x5 rule - limit the message to three (3) lines of text with a maximum of five (5) words per line or vice versa

Colors & Contrast

Insufficient contrast between text and background can make reading difficult

  • Use dark font colors on light backgrounds and vice versa
  • Avoid extremely bright colors as a background color

Color Blindness

  • Red/green color blindness is the most common, so avoid green on red or red on green
  • Other problematic color combinations are: 
    • Green and brown
    • Blue and purple
    • Green and blue 
    • Light green and yellow
    • Blue and grey
    • Green and grey
    • Green and black

Quick Tip: When in doubt, check your color contrast ratios on WebAIM

Images & Backgrounds

Keep backgrounds simple - backgrounds should not compete with your message

  • Use large, relevant images (that you have permission to use!)
  • Use text overlays (opaque or semi-transparent backing boxes) to make text more readable over images

Branding & Design


Visit the University Communications Toolbox for Appalachian's brand overview.

  • Keywords: energetic, forthright, welcoming
  • Yes: Appalachian State University, Appalachian, App State
    • No: ASU, Appalachian State (limited to Athletics)


  • Organize content by hierarchy
    • The most critical text and/or image should be the largest
    • Generally, design top-down
  • Consider the rule of thirds - place key components on the intersections of your content

Rule of thirds exampleUsing the rule of thirds guides content placement.

Naming Conventions

  • Establish naming conventions for your area to keep content organized and easy-to-find
  • Select an identifier for your area (examples: CAS_slide name, RCOE_slide name, WCOB_slide name)
  • Do not use special characters (dashes - and underscores _ can be used)

Example Slides

The following slides are examples only. There are many ways to create engaging digital signage content. 

   Alumni Award example slide

Campus Dining Example Slide

Example Slide AsuLearn App

Example Slide Bookstore

Example Slide Career Development

UREC Example Slide

MLK Event Example Slide

Example Slide HBFVWS

Example Slide Schaefer

Example Slide Holland Fellows