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Formatting Text

PowerPoint's design templates include preselected colors, fonts, font sizes, and other formatting parameters that are designed to work well together—a real timesaver and also very useful for people who are new to presentation design.

→ To learn more about how typefaces and fonts affect your presentation, see "Choosing Typefaces and Fonts" in Chapter 23, "The Media—Designing Visual Support."

You'll need to apply extensive text formatting only if you create a text box on a blank slide in a presentation without an attached design template. In most cases, you'll either use the formatting that the design template suggests or make only minor modifications to it.

→ To learn more about how to modify text and formatting on slide masters rather than on individual slides, see "Modifying the Slide Master" in Chapter 21, "Customizing PowerPoint."

The following are some changes you may consider to enhance the presentation of your slides:

  • Enlarge or reduce font size to fit the page For example, if your title is too long to fit across one line, you might want to reduce the font size slightly. If you have only a few bullet points on a slide, you might want to increase their size to fill the page. Be sure, however, that the font size is still appropriate for the presentation. For example, be careful that all text is still readable on the slide and, if you're going to do an onscreen presentation, that it isn't too small to be seen by viewers in the back of a room.

  • Replace one font with another You might have a particular font you prefer to use in presentations. Be careful, however, not to be too creative with unusual fonts. You want to be sure everyone can clearly read your presentation.

  • Add boldface, italics, or color Use these to emphasize a point with a certain word or words.


Unless you have experience in graphic design, you're better off using the preselected fonts, colors, and font sizes included in one of PowerPoint's design templates or making only very minor modifications.

You can format text in two ways:

  • Use the Font dialog box to make a number of changes in one place and to set font defaults.

  • Apply text formatting individually using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

Using the Font Dialog Box

To use the Font dialog box to format text, follow these steps:

  1. Select the text you want to format and choose Format, Font. The Font dialog box appears, shown in Figure 3.3.

  2. Figure 3.3 Make numerous font changes quickly using the Font dialog box.

  3. Select the font you want to use from the Font list. Scroll down the list to see additional font selections.

  4. Select a Font Style: Regular, Bold, Italic, or Bold Italic.

  5. Choose a Size: Choose a preset size from 8 to 96 points, or enter an exact size in the edit box.

  6. Apply additional desired effects by checking the check box next to any of the following:

    • Underline Underlines the selected text.

    • Shadow Applies a slight shadow to the lower right of the text.

    • Emboss Creates an embossed effect on the selected text.

    • Superscript Raises the text above the baseline and reduces the font size. Sets the Offset to 30%, which you can adjust.

    • Subscript Lowers the text below the baseline and reduces the font size. Sets the Offset to –25%, which you can adjust.

  7. NOTE

    Offset refers to the percentage the text displays above or below the baseline, or standard, text. For example, because subscript text is below the baseline, its offset will be a negative number.

→ To learn how to create innovative text objects with PowerPoint WordArt, see "Inserting WordArt" in Chapter 14, "Creating and Formatting Objects."

  1. Choose a color from the palette that is displayed by the Color drop-down list. For additional color choices, click More Colors from the palette to open the Colors dialog box.

→ To learn more about color theory and how it relates to emotions, see "Understanding Background Colors and Emotions" in Chapter 23.

→ To learn more about the Colors dialog box, see "Using the Colors Dialog Box" in Chapter 14.

  1. Click Preview to view the selected font changes on your slide.

  2. If you want the selected font formatting to be the default for future text, select the Default for New Objects check box.

  3. If you want to accept these changes, click OK to close and apply the font formatting.

Using the Formatting Toolbar

You can use the Formatting toolbar (see Figure 3.4) to apply individual formatting elements such as bold, italics, and shadows to selected text.

Figure 3.4 The Formatting toolbar includes buttons for commonly used text effects.

Table 3.1 lists the formatting options on this toolbar.

Table 3.1 Formatting Toolbar Buttons





Applies a font to the selected text.

Font Size

Sets the size of the font from 8 to 96 points or any size you enter in the edit box.


Bolds the selected text.


Italicizes the selected text.


Underlines the selected text.


Applies a shadow to the selected text.

Align Left

Aligns text to the left margin of the object.


Centers text across the slide.

Align Right

Aligns text to the right margin.


Applies numbering to the selected text.


Applies bullets to the selected text.

Increase Font Size

Increases the font size of selected text by one increment.

Decrease Font Size

Decreases the font size of selected text by one increment.

Decrease Indent

Outdents the selected text.

Increase Indent

Indents the selected text.

Font Color

Applies the color you choose from the drop-down list to selected text.


Opens the Slide Design task pane.

New Slide

Creates a new slide and opens the Slide Layout task pane.

To apply specific formatting, select the text you want to format and click the toolbar button. Clicking the Bold, Italic, Underline, Text Shadow, Numbering, or Bullets button a second time acts as a toggle and removes the formatting.

With the Font drop-down list, you can preview what each font actually looks like.

Replacing Fonts

If you want to replace all occurrences of one type of font in your presentation with another font, you can easily do so by following these steps:

  1. Choose Format, Replace Fonts to open the Replace Font dialog box (see Figure 3.5).

  2. Select the font that you want to replace from the Replace drop-down list. Only those fonts that currently exist in your presentation are listed.

  3. Select the replacement font from the With drop-down list. All available fonts in PowerPoint are listed.

  4. Click Replace to replace all matching fonts in your presentation.

  5. Click Close to return to the presentation.

Figure 3.5 Replace fonts throughout your presentation with this dialog box.

→ If you find you are making several text changes to all slides in a presentation, consider using the slide master. To learn how, see "Working with Slide Masters" in Chapter 21.

Changing Text Case

You can also automate a change of text case in your presentation, such as changing from lowercase to all capitals. Do so by following these steps:

  1. Select the text that you want to change.

  2. Select Format, Change Case to open the Change Case dialog box, shown in Figure 3.6.

  3. Figure 3.6 You can quickly change case if something doesn't look right.

  4. Choose the case to which you want to change. Options include

    • Sentence case Only the first word in a sentence is capitalized.

    • lowercase All letters appear in lowercase.

    • UPPERCASE All letters appear in uppercase.

    • Title Case The first letter of every title word is capitalized. Exceptions include words such as the, and, to, and so on, which remain lowercase in titles.

    • tOGGLE cASE Toggles all existing cases. Lowercase becomes uppercase, and uppercase becomes lowercase.

  5. Click OK to apply the case changes to the selected text.


Remember that an unusual use of case may be difficult to read, particularly uppercase and toggle case. With text, you need to strive for readability and clarity.


Only part of your text changes? See "Making Your Case Work" in the "Troubleshooting" section near the end of this chapter.


Another way to change case is to select some text and press Shift+F3 to cycle through PowerPoint's case options.

Setting Line Spacing

To specify the amount of vertical space between text (such as single or double spacing), follow these steps:

  1. Select the text you want to format and choose Format, Line Spacing. Figure 3.7 shows the Line Spacing dialog box that appears.

  2. Figure 3.7 Appropriate line spacing can make a presentation easier to read.

  3. In this dialog box you can set either lines or points for line spacing, space before paragraphs, and space after paragraphs.

  4. Select the numeric amount from the first field and then choose either Lines or Points from the second drop-down list.

  5. Click the Preview button to view the changes in your presentation before accepting them.

  6. Click OK to apply the changes.

Setting Alignment

To align paragraphs, choose Format, Alignment and then one of the following options:

  • Align Left Aligns text to the left margin of the object.

  • Center Centers text across the slide.

  • Align Right Aligns text to the right margin of the object.

  • Justify Justifies selected text.

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