PowerPoint 2013: Adding Text to Shapes and SmartArt


Text can be added to drawn shapes and to SmartArt, a special case of drawn shapes.  In either case, text entered in this fashion will not show up in Outline View.  Usually text placed on drawn shapes is brief, like a label or flowchart process, text placed on SmartArt however, can be more expansive because the SmartArt will scale the text to fit within the shapes that comprise the illustration.  Here is how to place text on drawn shapes, and then on SmartArt.

Text on a Drawn Shape

Most of the shapes drawn using the Shapes tool on the Insert tab (there is also a Shapes gallery by default on the Home tab) allow for text entry.  Simply draw the shape and start typing to add text to a drawn shape.  By default the text will be the standard text/font size for the theme, in a contrasting color to the shape.  It will be centered on the shape, but the alignment can be changed by selecting the text and using the contextual mini-toolbar (or the text tools on the Home tab) to change alignment.

Text Mini Tool Bar

Note that text will not auto-re-size to stay within the borders of the shape, but will, by default, simply overflow the shape as you continue to type.  To control this behavior, right-click the shape and choose Format Shape…  Click Text Options and Text Box.  Then change the behavior to “Shrink text on overflow” or “Resize shape to fit text,” depending on the behavior you want.  Of course, placing a great deal of text on a shape is not a good idea in the first place.

Text Box Overflow Options
Text Box Overflow Options

The text and the shape are part of the same object, and deleting the shape also deletes the text.  If you want text that can be independent of the shape, draw the shape and then use the Text Box tool to type the text.  If you wan them to move together, group them.  Grouping will be the subject of a future post.

If you have typed text on a shape, and decided that another shape would be more appropriate you do not need to retype the text.  Use the Change Shape tool on the Drawing Tools tab to change it.

Change Shape Tool

Text on SmartArt

SmartArt is a special type of shape that can contain text or, sometimes, graphics.  The procedure for adding text to SmartArt shapes is different than for drawn shapes.  First, insert the SmartArt.  Configure it for the number of shapes you wish it to contain and format it for color and effects.  Then type the text in the text placeholder on each shape, or open the text side panel and type the bullet-point style text there.  Each bullet point in the side panel represents a text place holder on each SmartArt shape.

SmartArt Text Panel

The little arrowhead control on the left border of the SmartArt matrix illustrated above is the control that opens or closes the text panel.  Most SmartArt will expand to create a new shape within the borders of the SmartArt object for each bullet item in the text panel.  With some shapes, only a fixed number of shapes (and therefore bulleted items) are allowed, like the Matrix in this slide, which only allows for five: the upper level, central bullet item “Education,” and the four sub-items.  One of the things that makes SmartArt smart is that the text you type to label each shape will automatically re-size as you type, and it will re-size on all shapes, not just the one you are typing, so that the font size will be uniform.

SmartArt Matrix Shape

The SmartArt gallery can be found on the Insert tab in the Illustrations group.

SmartArt Tool

Clicking the SmartArt tool will bring up the SmartArt gallery, from which you can pick the graphic best able to illustrate your idea.

SmartArt Gallery

The following video demonstrates these concepts.

PowerPoint 2013: Pasting Text on a Slide from a Text Source


In this post I will describe how to paste text from any text source onto a PowerPoint slide.  Text added in this fashion will not appear in Outline View.

If you want to bypass the Text Box tool altogether, you can simply paste text onto a slide from Word, or any other text source.  In fact, if a source document will let you copy to the Windows clipboard, PowerPoint will let you paste the text in.  There is a caveat about formatting, however, and a couple of tricks that might assist with this process.

The caveat:  be sure to paste in using the Paste Options tools and selecting “Keep Text Only” in order to clear the formatting from the pasted text.  This is especially important when pasting from a web page that may have all sorts of hidden html in the text string.  Keep Text Only strips away the formatting code and pastes in just the text.

After copying your source text, right-click on the slide on which you wish to copy it and select Keep Text Only from the Paste Options.  (These options can also be found on the drop-down beneath the Ribbon Paste tool on the Home tab).

Keep Text Only Paste

Once pasted, the text will exist in its own container, which acts like any text box container.  Clicking the dashed border will turn the border solid, and then any formatting command you apply will affect the entire contents of the container.

If you have a specific area on the slide where you want to paste the text, click the Text Box tool and draw a container for the text, then paste it in using the Keep Text Only option.  The text will fill the box, and the box will expand downward if the text will not fit, but it will maintain its width.

Finally, if you are pasting formatted text from, say a Word document, and simply use Ctrl-V to paste it into a container on a slide, click the border of the container so that it is solid, and then press Ctrl-spacebar to clear the formatting.  This will not clear line breaks, hard or soft, but will clear most other formatting.

The following video demonstrates these techniques and tips.

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.

PollEverywhere and PowerPoint 2013


If you’ve sat through one of my past Faculty Plenary sessions in the last several years, doubtless you’ve seen my use of PollEverywhere. I use their free higher-ed account, and since I never need more than 40 respondents to any poll, it meets all my needs.

If you’re not familiar with the PollEverywhere service, here’s what their FAQ page says in response to the question “What is PollEverywhere?”

On the surface, Poll Everywhere is a simple application that works well for live audiences using mobile devices like phones. People participate by visiting a fast mobile-friendly web page for your event, sending text messages, or using Twitter. Instructions are displayed on-screen. The poll that is embedded within the presentation or web page will update in real time. Advanced uses include texting comments to a presentation, texting questions to a presenter, web voting, and SMS interactivity in print, radio, and TV.

What first attracted me to this service was that the polls allow for audience input via multiple points, such as text messages, tweets, and even a customized web interface. And, best of all, the result graphs would dynamically display from within PowerPoint slides, right in front of the audience during the polling period. (There’s just something… cool, watching your own votes show up on the screen moments after you submit them. It truly does make the audience feel more a part of the presentation, as I can attest from being in an audience using the polls.) My only reservation about the graphing function is that, in recent months, the Adobe Flash tool (which is how the graphs were rendered) was not playing nice with PowerPoint.

Apparently the good folks at PollEverywhere had similar reservations, because they have taken steps to abandon use of Flash, and coincidentally made integrating polls into PowerPoint slide decks easier than ever!

As the below video demonstrates, there is an add-in for PowerPoint (both Windows and Mac versions) which makes adding a poll results screen just as easy as adding any other slide to your presentation. And as the tech which powers the graphs now is purely HTML5, there should not be any security warnings or troubles such as Flash may have inflicted.

So, if you’re already using PollEverywhere with your students, rejoice in the new and improved PowerPoint integration. If you aren’t, maybe this is a good time to consider adding some interactive polling to your in-class presentations.

PowerPoint 2013: Date, Slide Number and Footer


Having visited the slide master in Slide Master view a few times you may be wondering about those “empty” placeholders on all the slides.  There are at least five placeholders on most layout masters, inherited from the slide master: Title, Content, Date, Slide Number, and Footer.  But when you look at the slide in Normal view you see only two of those areas: Title and Content (unless you have chosen the blank slide layout, in which case you see nothing).  Some layouts have many more placeholders, of course, but the date/time, slide number, and footer placeholders do not actually show up in Normal view.  How do you get these elements to show up on your slides?

Five Elements
The five content placeholders

Open your presentation and click on the Insert tab, and then click on Header & Footer in the text group.

Header Footer

You can do this from good old Normal view.  Note that the check boxes on this dialog box are clear.  Place a check in each box for the element you want to appear on your slides:  Date and time, Slide number, and Footer.  Note also that you can elect for these elements to NOT appear on the title slide.  Then click Apply, to apply these settings to the currently selected slide(s)—use Slide Sorter view to select a group—or Apply to All to place these elements on each slide in your presentation.

Turn on slide options

The drop-down next to date allows for many different date/time formats.  Selecting “Update automatically” updates the date/time field each time you open the presentation.  Choosing “Fixed,” on the other hand, will always display a fixed date.  You can type the fixed date and add time (or anything else you want) in the dialog box.  You can also type any footer you wish.

If you want to start numbering at a number other than 1, after applying your settings, go to View > Slide Master, click the drop-down under Slide Size, and select Custom Slide Size  (I know, this is a weird place to put it).  Change the number in “Number slides from:” to be whatever you want (and no, negative numbers are not accepted).  This is sometimes useful when combining multiple presentations into a single, long presentation).

Number Slides From

Granted, these elements are in an unusual location on the slides in our presentation, but that is because these elements are located where they are as part of the Ion theme layouts.  They are in somewhat different locations in each theme, and changing themes will change the location of these elements.  The “Retrospect” theme will place them in the more traditional location along the bottom of the slide.

I do not like using these elements in my own presentations because they take up slide real estate that I eventually end up needing to display data, and they do nothing but state the obvious anyway.  Others feel differently.  Here is a quick summary video.

PowerPoint 2013: Changing Themes


My recommendation is to choose your PowerPoint theme prior to building your presentation, because much of the placement of presentation elements will depend on the font sizes, placeholder locations, and background art of a theme.  Changing from one theme to another after the presentation is built can, in some cases, be very annoying because it requires lots of fine tuned changed to the presentation that are time consuming.  On the other hand, sometimes the change can be a breeze, and a new theme can breath new life into an old presentation.  It is easy enough to preview changes, to see if you want to adopt a new one or not, and it is also easy enough to apply a theme to a single slide or group of slides within a presentation.

To change themes, open your presentation, click on the Design tab, and hover over a new theme in the theme gallery.  The active slide  in normal view will show a live preview of the new theme.  If that looks OK to you, click the new theme and it will be applied to every slide in your presentation.  Now review your slides.  The new theme may or may not be a success.  If you find a problematic slide, you can reformat it manually, or retreat to your former theme by simply clicking it in the theme gallery.  (This goes for custom built themes as well, which will be listed in the theme gallery as long as you have built them through this version of PowerPoint.  If not, navigate to them to reapply them).

As I say, the active slide will show a preview of the new theme.  If you are just shopping the themes, select a slide that has a lot of components from border to border, top and bottom, and preview the new theme using this slide.  This will let you know if any background art elements especially may overlay or obscure elements on your slide.  If so, and you don’t feel like reformatting, then don’t use that theme.

If you want to apply a theme to a single slide, or a group of slides, select it (them) in the thumbnail pane and click the new theme, or right-click the theme and choose “Apply to Selected Slides.”  If you use more than one theme in a presentation, and consequently more than one set of slide masters, when you change themes again you will have to do it for each group of slides from the original, and a single click will no longer set the theme for the entire presentation.

Apply to Selected Slides

That’s it.  Themes are an easy way to make dramatic changes to your presentation globally.  In later posts I will demonstrate how to create and save custom themes.  In the mean time, here is a video summarizing this post.