PowerPoint 2013: Basic Text Editing


As mentioned in previous posts, if you are going to edit text in a PowerPoint presentation, it is better that the editing be done on the slide master, so that 1) your edits will propagate through the entire presentation.  Sometimes this is just not possible, especially with reference to text in text boxes.  You may want to color a single word in a text box differently than the rest of the words, or bold or underline a word, or expand character spacing for a group of words, or whatever the case may be.  This post discusses these basic text edits, which are common Word text formatting tasks also.  It is important to remember that any text editing you do on slides will override the placeholder settings of your design theme, and will not change when you change themes or change the slide master.

When text is selected, the Font group on the Home tab is activated (it “lights up”) and the Drawing Tools tab appears.  The Drawing Tools are for more advanced text editing.  In this post we will concentrate on the basic edits available in the Font group on the Home tab.

Font Group


I have discussed basic font manipulation in another post.  I would repeat my warning here NOT to use whimsical, novelty, romantic, cursive, gothic, or otherwise weird fonts in your presentations.  There are always exceptions, of course, but at least think twice before putting a relatively illegible font on a slide.  If you stick with the font theme that is part of your PowerPoint 2013 design theme you will be doing well.  If you need to change font family or size, however, you can find a list of all the fonts installed on your system in the font drop-down in the Font group.  In working with different fonts, though, remember that the set of fonts installed on computers is usually somewhat (sometimes radically) different, so sticking with basics is better to insure consistency if you develop a presentation on one computer but present it on another.  As long as you are using TrueType fonts (those that show up in your Control Panel Font tool) you can also embed them, to be sure they will be available to your presentation.

Font Control

Font size is measured in points—in the illustration above Century Gothic 54 pt. is selected.  A point is approximately 1/72nd of an inch, though the actual size of a point varies depending on the font being used.  The font size up and down controls will increase or decrease the font size by preset intervals, or you can simply type a new font size in the font size box.  This is the only way to create really large fonts, which are useful in certain animation effects.

The Clear Formatting command can be very useful if you have been doing experiments with text effects and get things in a hash.  Just select your text, click Clear Formatting, and you are back to your design theme setting.

 Text Effects

Basic text effects formatting needs little discussion.  Bold, Italics, Underline and Shadow and Strike Through are all self evident.  Just select the text and click the effect button to apply it.  If you find an effect you think is especially effective—adding a shadow to white text can make it stand out and increase legibility, for example—make the edit on the slide master rather than on the actual slide, so that it will be applied to all placeholder text.  If you want a consistent effect on text box text, edit the text in an existing text box and then make it the default for future text boxes  (existing text boxes will not be affected, so you will need to use the format painter to quickly change them).

Basic Text Effects
Basic Text Effects

Character Spacing

The character spacing control allows modification of the space between letters.

Character Spacing
Character Spacing drop-down

Here is a table of samples using the various character spacing drop-down presets on the Century Gothic font used in our sample presentation.  The font you use will affect the appearance of various character spacings, of course.

Character Spacing Examples

Clicking “More Spacing…” at the bottom of the character spacing drop-down opens the character spacing dialog, where any desired setting can be configured.


The case control drop-down allows for conversion from one case to another, an extremely useful tool if you have pasted text that is all upper case, or needs to be all uppercase, etc.

Case Control


Understanding color is critical to designing presentations that can be easily modified.  The font color drop-down allows for selecting from one of 10 theme colors (there are officially 12 theme colors, but 2, the ones used for hyperlinks and visited hyperlinks, are not shown in this drop down); or 50 shade variations on the theme colors.  As long as you change your text font to one of these colors, they will change to the colors of a new design theme is you apply one.  If you pick from the Standard Colors, however, or from the More Colors… options, they will not change with design theme.

Font Color Selector

Each design theme has its own color theme, which can be changed using the Color selector on the Slide Master view (or under the Variant gallery on the Design tab).

Color Themes

Changing the color theme will change the theme color selections you may make, of course, from the font color drop-down.  Clicking “Customize Colors…” on the theme color drop-down permits editing of any/all of the theme colors and/or creating your own re-usable color theme.

New with PowerPoint 2013 is an eye dropper tool which will allow you to “pick up” any color on your slide and make it the new font color.  This is most useful when you have place a photo or piece of art work on the slide, and want to add a color coordinated label or call out.

The Font Dialog Box

Most of the fine-tuning controls in PowerPoint 2013 have been moved to panes, which appear on the right of your screen when needed, but not so font fine-tuning controls.  Clicking the dialog launcher at the bottom right of the Font group will open an old fashioned Font dialog box, giving you access to even more font choices.

Font Dialog Box

The variations available from this dialog box are fairly self explanatory.  “Offset” refers to the amount of offset a superscript of subscript will have.  “Small Caps” is a popular options, and elaborate underline styles are also a popular use of this control.


These, in sum, are your basic font editing tools.  It is worth repeating that keeping font editing on slides to a minimum will make for more consistent design and easier changes to your presentations down the road.  If you need to edit fonts it is better to do so on slide masters, or default versions of text boxes and drawn shapes, rather than on specific instances of text.  Once you edit a specific instance of text on a slide, the new formatting will override your design theme settings (which are really “placeholder” settings, and not actual settings, of course).  If you then change a setting on the slide master, individual settings on specific slides will not change.

Here is a video summarizing these concepts.