You may want to design your visual aids to have a 16:9 ratio, also called widescreen. Why? It could be that you have a 16:9 projector, or the presentation will be shown on a widescreen monitor (and most of mobile devices now are 16:9) or it could be that you want it to convert it to a video. I also use Impress to design slides to insert into widescreen video and therefore they have to be in that format.

Whatever the reason it is quite simple to do it but you have to remember to pay attention to some details.

The most common video formats are 1280×720 also called HD and 1920×1080 also called FullHD. To have a widescreen slide in Impress go under Format and choose Page you will be presented with the following window:

impress page setup
Change the paper format to User (or simply enter your own values in the boxes below). As far as I know you cannot enter values in pixels so you have to use cm (or inches). My favourite format is 26,67x15cm but you can use anything it suits you as long as the width is 1,77 times the height.

If you are converting an existing presentation from a different format most of the objects will be re-sized accordingly. You want to check every slide and make sure that it all looks good in the new format, there is no text bleeding, alignment is smooth and images are not stretched incorrectly.

Talking about images it is important to properly embed pictures in this format. Photos very unlikely are in 16:9 format, so if you want to add one to a widescreen slide you will have something like this:

photo_in_wide - 1

As you see there is some white empty space at the sides (the red border I added it to show the white bars). Now you have three options:

  • Stretch the image
  • Add some bars
  • Crop it

The first option is the wrong one: stretch the image so that is fits the size.

photo_in_wide - 2

As you can see the result does not look good, objects go out of proportions and even uglier people become fatter. As much as it looks the quickest option avoid it.

A better option is to take a leaf out of TV broadcasters’ book and use the same trick as to show 4:3 videos on a 16:9 screen. Put some side bars. For this example I have used a neutral black but according to the photo you can choose different colours (black work well with projectors because it is like off).

photo_in_wide - 3
The third possibility is to crop the image. It could be the better one since you keep the scale and you also achieve the full screen impact. It does require a little bit of extra work and could be slightly more tricky depending on the photos. There are different ways to do it, I tend to enlarge the photo to full width (with the height bleeding):


It is very important that Keep ratio is checked and set Width to the page one (in my case 26,67cm). Then crop at top or at bottom (or here and there) to the desired effect. For this one I went to crop only at the bottom and this is the end result:

photo_in_wide - 4

The same principles apply to a diagram or any other drawings …. we don’t want oval pie charts do we?

Finally if you are to export your slides, maybe to embed them in a video as I do, you can now size them in pixel. Impress will adjust the ratio for you but you probably want to use one of the common formats like 1920×1080 or 1280×720.