PowerPoint 2013: Adding Text to Slides


In this and the next three posts I would like to consider four ways to add text to PowerPoint slides:

  • Typed into a text placeholder and as a bulleted item;
  • As a text box – with two variations: click and type and a drawn textbox;
  • Paste from Word or other text source;
  • Text on a shape – with two variations also: a Drawn Shape and SmartArt.

Text Placeholders and Bulleted Items

The traditional PowerPoint slide (one that many designers now recommend NOT be used) is the bulleted list.  Regardless of recommendations, this layout persists as the most popular PowerPoint slide type, especially in academics, and (apparently) in business too, since the default New Slide type is a generic slide featuring bulleted textual content.  In a typical presentation, step one is creating a title slide (which is a special use of text box placeholders) the next new slide, if you are creating a PowerPoint presentation from scratch, “expects” to contain bulleted item textual content.  Consider the following Title & Content new slide:

Title-Content Blank

There is a blank placeholder for the title of the slide at the top (derived from the slide master, as we have previously discussed), and a central blank container containing several placeholders for bulleted text, and six other types of content:  a table; a chart; SmartArt; a Picture from a file; a Picture from the web; a Video from file or embed code from the web.  If you view this layout in slide show view, you will see nothing.  The placeholders and the containers do not display.  Only when they are clicked, and actual content is added will something actually display.  To add a title, for example, click where it says “Click to add title” and type the title of the slide.  To add the first bulleted item of text to the slide click where it says “Click to add text” and type your text.  If you press Enter after typing your text a dimmed out bullet point shows on the next line, ready to receive another text entry.  The bullet will not actually display on the slide until text is typed.  The other content placeholders disappear.  Consider the following slide with text added:

Bulleted items in outline view

It shows a slide with a title and four bulleted items in Outline View.  How does PowerPoint know what font to use, what font size to use for text items and what bullet style to use?  The same way it knows what color scheme to use and what background art to include:  the slide master, which inherits its color and font choices from the presentation theme.  We have already covered these ideas in other posts.

An all-too-typical PowerPoint slide is very like the one illustrated above, with a brief outline of the points the speaker wishes to address in abbreviated bullet list format, with perhaps some animation to make each bullet point appear on mouse click.  I happen to agree that this is not particularly effective slide/presentation design, but it is very common.  If this meets your needs, then this is about all you need to know to create PowerPoint slides.

Versions of PowerPoint since 2010 have included a feature that automatically re-sizes text when it overflows the bulleted text placeholder.  That is, when you enter more bulleted items than the placeholder can contain.  To turn this feature off, use the AutoCorrect options button that will appear when this action happens.

AutoCorrect Drop-down

Clear the check next to “AutoFit body text to placeholder to turn this feature off.

Autocorrect Options

Of the four ways to add text to a slide discussed in this series, this is the only way that adds text to Outline View.  Text that you add through text boxes or on shapes do not.

The following video demonstrates these techniques and tips.

One thought on “PowerPoint 2013: Adding Text to Slides

  1. Good tips, Terry. Another good way to add text to slides is copying it directly from other sources. You can copy and paste the text using different format options, like Rich-text or plain text. I will keep an eye peeled to read the next three posts.

Comments are closed.