Make your TSQL easier to read during a presentation

SQL Server Management Studio 2012 has some neat settings that you can use to help your presentations at a SQL event better for the attendees if you are willing to spend a few minutes making some settings changes.

Historically, I have been reluctant to make changes to my SSMS settings as it is such a tedious process and it’s not 100% clear that what you think you are changing is actually what gets changed. With SSMS 2012 this has become a lot easier and a lot less risky.


In any session that involves TSQL there is a trade off between the speaker having all the code on screen and the attendees being able to read any of what is on screen. You (the speaker) might be able to read this when you are working on the code but plenty of your audience wont be able to make head or tail of it. SSMS 2012 has a zoom facility that can help:


but don’t go nuts …


Having the font too big means you will be scrolling a lot and the code will again be rendered unreadable.

There is more though but you need to take a deep breath and open the Tools menu and delve into the SSMS options. In previous versions of SSMS this is a deep, dark and scary place where changing values can be obscure and sometimes catastrophic to the UI when you get back to the code editor.

First things first, we set out as a good DBA and save our current (and presumably acceptable) SSMS configuration. From the import and Export Settings you can set up a file to hold all of the settings that you currently have.


The wizard will open and ask you to pick an option. This time around choose to export settings.


hit next and next again and then name your settings profile in the final step of the wizard and then click Finish.


Once this is done then you can change whatever you like and always get back to this configuration in a couple of clicks.

So what can you change to make for a good experience? Well there are plenty of things that can be altered but don’t go too mad and change too many things without taking a look at the results for every item on the list above you can change font, size, weight, colour, background colour etc. etc. but consider what you are trying to achieve and take it slowly.


I have seen presenters with their settings set to have a yellow highlight and black font rather than the default pale blue background and slightly darker font so to achieve that select Text Editor and then select “Selected Text” in the Display Items listbox. As you change things the Sample area give you an idea of what effect you are going to have.


Black and yellow is the colour combination with the highest contrast – that’s why bees and wasps# are that colour.

What next? how about increasing the default font for your demo scripts? This means that any script you open and any new ones that you start will take on this font. No more zooming (or forgetting to) in the middle of sessions.


now don’t forget to save this profile – follow the same steps as above but give the profile a different name, something like PresentationBigFontHighContrast might be appropriate.

Once you are done making changes, export the settings once more and then go into the Import Export wizard and import settings from the first profile you created. Everything will be back to normal.

Now making changes to suit your environment can be done very easily and with confidence.

* – and warning tape and safety signs and so forth – Health and Safety officers simply copy nature!