New Projectors require new Slides

From 4:3 to 16:9: Please make sure you adapt your presentations to the aspect ratios of the modern ETH screens and projectors.

“16:9 […] is the aspect ratio of picture width to picture height in video technology. […] Studies have shown early on that the human field of vision corresponds more to a widescreen format. Since the technology can now play along, the goal today is to transmit TV broadcasts in the widescreen format. (Wikipedia)


A glance at your television screen at home or your monitor in the office reveals: The 16:9 aspect ratio has entered not only the world of entertainment in a big way, computers have been adapted little by little to the new widescreen format as well. This also applies to the projection systems in the lecture halls and seminar rooms of ETH, for which Tom Rechsteiner is responsible: “We are now using only projectors in the 16:9 picture size.” A change that has not yet been completed on most computers, though. The majority of presentations are still created in the old 4:3 aspect ratio – so the technical possibilities of the projectors are not exploited to their full extent and the additional space is unused. It’s less noticeable in the lecture hall. For the increasing number of transmissions or recording of lectures, it presents a problem, however. “In the area of video, we have been producing material in the 16:9 aspect ratio for quite a while now and must then combine it with slides in 4:3. The result is a loss of display area due to the smaller height of the 16:9 aspect ratio as well as black borders on the right and left that are not nice to look at,” says Olaf A. Schulte, responsible at the Multimedia Services division for the recording and transmission of lectures and events. His recommendation is therefore: Change your presentations to 16:9. Templates for this purpose are provided by University Communications, which also recommends the use of this aspect ratio.

Microsoft software and the new format

The relevant software offers the new format already: PowerPoint with Office 2013 has it as a default; Keynote at least as an option; you’ll find details in the post “Welcome to the jungle”.

In addition to a higher resolution, slides with an aspect ratio of 16:9 yield a gain in area (depending on the display area). The down side: Old slides have to be corrected manually for this, probably the biggest obstacle when changing to the new picture size. But Schulte is confident: “We saw more slides in 16:9 than in 4:3 in the introductory lectures of the 2015 spring semester.”


  • Thomas Rechsteiner, Group Manager (IS) Infrastructure & Support (ITS MMS)
  • Olaf A. Schulte, Group Manager (PD) Production & Distribution (ITS MMS)


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