The Screen Is The New Hymnal: 3 Steps To Better Worship Slides

by Chris Bennett

in Church Communications,Worship Leading

While Kristen and Bobby take a brief time away from blogging,  several guest bloggers will appear here at Today, welcome Chris Bennett. Chris is Director of Media for Sojourn Community Church. He is also a graphic designer and a banjo player for Sojourn Music.

The screen is the new hymnal. This is both amazing and horrifying.

Amazing because you can now introduce a new song with a few clicks instead of obtaining a new hymnal, but horrifying because now anyone can design their own digital hymnal. Trained professionals typeset hymnals. Most worship slides don’t enjoy such luxury.

The design of worship slides may not seem like a big deal. But, second only to their Bible, they are the most important thing people read on a Sunday.

Consider this quote, but replace “book” with “slide”, and you have the goal of worship slides:

“The real work of a book designer isn’t making things look nice, different, or pretty. It is finding out how to put one letter next to another so that an author’s words seem to lift off the page. Book design doesn’t delight in its own cleverness; it is done in the service of words.” – Richard Hendel, On Book Design.

Worship slides should not look cool; their job is to make the words of the songs lift off the slide. People don’t hum and sing swirling neon slide backgrounds throughout their week, but they do hum and sing the songs they heard on Sunday. Our job is to make the words they sing as easy to read and remember as possible.

With that in mind, here are three simple steps toward that end:

Make Slides As Boring As Possible

Yes. Boring. Ditch the swirling colors, the butterflies, the hip grungy backgrounds, and the serene cabin in the woods. Default to a black background with light type, or a white background with dark type, and be proud of it. Hymnals, bibles, and books written for adults look plain on the inside for a reason. The Hip Teen Super Study Bible is the one that looks “cool” on the inside. Design for the masses, not the teenagers.

Pump Up The Font Size

Your text is probably too small. Your main text should be no smaller than 30pt. Your grandmother doesn’t complain if the font is big. She will if it’s too small.

Use A Decent Typeface

If anyone thinks the font you chose looks awesome, you chose the wrong font. If anyone besides graphic designers even notices your font choice, you chose the wrong font. Again, the goal is to lift the words off the slide and be boring. Use a sans-serif typeface such as Helvetica or Frutiger. Or, a serif typeface such as Garamond, Minion Pro, or Jenson.

{ 1 comment }

Darren October 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

Sojourn Community Church Midtown uses Hoefler text, which comes standard on a mac, but doesn’t come standard on a Windows PC.

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