Slate’s posted a tremendously embarassing-looking unclassified Powerpoint deck from the CIA. The twelve pages present a sort-of who’s who guide of Powerpoint design mistakes. I don’t really fault the CIA procurement executive who created it, though; it looks like the result of an official template run amok, coupled with the world’s worst collection of stock art…from 1993. Here’s the blow-by-blow for each slide:

  1. OK, let's get it out of the way now: the fonts they're using suck. The yellow-on-blue color scheme really does nothing for me. The official seal makes perfect sense, but the fonts are just a disaster. C'mon: this is 2007, why are you using Times New Roman at the bottom?
  2.  The slide title presented here is next to impossible to read. A heavily desaturated yellow on a bluish, semi-transparent background does nothing for my 24-year old eyes. Imagine what a career CIA analyst pushing fifty must feel like when he squints at this. Also, the phrasing of the bullet points on this page is rather painful. Please stick to a handful of descriptive words or to a sentence structure, but not both.
  3.  Dude, 1993 called and it wants its clip art back. The 1950s-esque atomic structure representing "technology" is my personal favorite. What's yours? Once again, the color contrast is killing me. Furthermore, at a structural level, I cannot figure out how this slide (entitled "Multiple Areas of Concern") relates to the Overview slide we just saw.
  4.  Font colors. Again. Also, I hope that this was a slide that took all of ten seconds to run through. Key takeaway: "things have changed." We get it, no need to run through point by point.
  5.  This slide actually made my left eye bleed. I'm reminded of the guy at the beginning of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure who said "Everything is different, but the same... things are more moderner than before... bigger, and yet smaller... it's computers... San Dimas High School football rules!"
  6. The heavy-handed metaphor employed on the sixth page is just annoying (get it? Acquisition is key to their success!)
  7. Jesus, why not just put the full text to War and Peace on this slide? The little scroll clip art at the bottom is cute, though, I'll admit.
  8. This is how much of the slide looks like Pac-Man.
  9. Oops, they probably didn't want to share this info. Also, would it kill them to use XP theme support? The UI tends to look better when it's enabled.
  10. It's like a SWOT, but lamer! I really dig the painful bastardization of the word "AGILITY" on the right. Tres chic.
  11. Just like slide 7, I hope that this was not read verbatim. There's way too much text present on this slide. I don't think it would make Tufte very happy. It's bad form to switch between using periods and not using periods on slides. I try to avoid them, personally.
  12. Huh? This looks like the same data seen on #9. What the heck?