PowerPoint 2013: WordArt


An advanced form of text editing in PowerPoint is called WordArt.  Some truly spectacular textual effects can be achieved with WordArt, while the text retains its characteristics as text (can be spell checked, font sizes can be changed, case can be changed, new text inserted, etc.).  Nevertheless, these effects don’t have much of a place in a well designed, professional presentation.  They should be used sparingly, and only for special emphasis.  This post will in brief review where the WordArt settings and controls can be found and applied.  We will get to a discussion of shape effects—which are the same effects applied to shapes, rather than text—in a later post.

To apply text effects, begin by selecting the text you wish to modify.  WordArt can be applied to text in placeholders, in textboxes, on shapes, and on SmartArt.  When you select the text a Drawing Tools tab will appear above the ribbon, with a Format tab beneath it.  Click the format tab to reveal the WordArt Styles group.

WordArt Styles

Note that for text on SmartArt a SmartArt Tools tab appears, rather than a Drawing Tools tab, but it has a Format sub-tab that contains the WordArt Styles.

Click the More drop-down to see the WordArt gallery.  It contains 20 presets, each featuring a different theme color and set of effects.  The color of the presets in the gallery will vary by theme, of course, but they will be the same basic styles.  Hovering over each preset will be live previewed in the selected text.

If you wish greater control over your WordArt style, use the Text Fill, Text Outline, and Text Effects drop-downs to the right of the WordArt gallery, and for maximum control, click the dialog launcher, or click the Options button on each Text Effects command, to open the Format Shape pane, where virtually all characteristics of the WordArt style can be controlled (except for Transform effects, which can only be accessed from the Text Effects drop-down).

Format Shape Pane
Format Shape pane with Shadow Effects expanded.

Tools to fill text and outline text are basic and easily understood.  The tools to apply text effects are more complex and require some trial and error to use effectively.  Let me repeat that WordArt ought to be used sparingly, and only for important emphasis.  It is easy to waste a lot of time monkeying around with text effects that will be lost on your audience.  Clarity, impact and legibility ought to be your goals when constructing presentation slides, and too many strange effects (my personal pet peeve is the reflection effect) can detract from your message.

In any event, watch this brief video to see a demo of WordArt styles.