This past weekend, I lost it. Again. While I’ve been trying to do better at not letting problems during a worship service affect me, I nearly ripped one of our hip sanctuary theater style chairs out of the floor to throw at the screen. At least that’s what I was thinking in my head. Anyway, here was my problem:
For weeks, my church has been plagued by worship song lyric slides that are unreadable.
Like a bad day dream, I saw a black, papyrus style font on a blue-green motion background that was impossible to read. I should have taken a picture, but I was in too much disbelief that this made it past any of the weekend worship planners.
So here are some standards I’ve come up with as a guide. As a full disclaimer, I’m definitely in a “simpler is better” phase.
- Arial or Helvetica is your default. Choose a font that’s easy to read. It’s better to have something with a little beef than one that’s too thin. Dump script or fancy fonts.
- Solid backgrounds. It’s easier to read lyrics on something simple, even if there’s motion or texture, than on a picture or video. If I had my choice, it would always be a solid color or monochrome background.
- Contrasting colors. For example, black type on a yellow background or white type on a dark blue background. Make sure you can easily read them. If you have any readability doubts, as a test, load them into your projection system and stand at the back of the worship center to see if they work.
- Line breaks that follow lyrical pauses. Don’t just type lyrics, think about how the song is sung.
- No more than five lines of lyrics. There’s no need to cram everything onto a slide. Blank space is good. This will keep people from getting lost as they’re singing (or looking around).
- Lyrics over a live camera feed. I know a lot of churches do this and it works well. It actually forces you to keep lyrics simple, usually on the lower third of the screen.
- Motion tracks. (Here are some examples.)
I don’t look at this as a way to stifle creativity. Many times being simpler in design is tougher. And maybe doing simple lyric projection gives you more flexibility to do other things with lighting or projection elsewhere. Even if you’re a small church without a bunch of fancy toys, I think simpler can still be better.
I care about this because we shouldn’t be doing things that overly distract or interrupt worship. When you’re in the middle of singing your heart out to God and then all the sudden you can’t read the lyrics, it’s a major interruption to worship.
What do you think? Do you have any personal guidelines for lyric slides?