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Chapter 3. Working with Text > Formatting Text

Formatting Text

PowerPoint's design templates include colors, fonts, font sizes, and other formatting parameters that are designed to work well and look good together. In this way, PowerPoint frees you to focus on your message.

→ To learn more about how typefaces and fonts affect your presentation, see “Choosing Typefaces and Fonts” in Chapter 25, “The Media—Designing Visual Support,” p. 535.

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,” p. 467.

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

  • Enlarge or reduce font size— If you have only a few bullet points on a slide, you can increase their font size to fill the page. You can also shrink the text in a placeholder so that it can hold more text. Be sure, however, that the font size is still appropriate for the presentation. Make sure 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.


    If you type more text into a placeholder than it can show at once, PowerPoint uses its AutoFit feature to shrink the text to fit. AutoFit only shrinks text so much, though, to prevent it from becoming hard to read.

  • 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 that everyone can clearly read your presentation.


    If your presentation will end up on any computers other than yours, make sure that you choose only fonts those computers contain. If your presentation uses a font that isn't on a computer displaying it, PowerPoint substitutes a font that is on the computer. The results are often less than pleasing.

    It's safest to use only fonts that come with the other computers' version(s) of Windows. To find out which fonts Microsoft delivered with each version of Windows, go to http://www.microsoft.com/typography/fonts/default.asp. Choose the version of Windows from the drop-down list of products on this page and click Go.

    Fortunately, PowerPoint's design templates use fonts available in most versions of Windows. If you stick to those fonts, you'll almost always be fine.

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

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:

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

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

In the Font list, choose the font you want to use. Scroll down the list to see the available fonts.

In the Font style list, choose whether the font should be regular (neither bold nor italic), bold, italic, or bold and italic.

In the Size list, choose a preset size from 8 to 96 points, or type a specific point size in the box.

Apply any other effects you want 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.


Offset refers to the percentage the text displays above or below the baseline, which is the invisible line the characters sit on. 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,” p. 312.

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 the Colors dialog box, seeUsing the Colors Dialog Box” in Chapter 14, p. 290.

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

If you want to use this font formatting as the default for future text, click the Default for New Objects check box.

Click OK to close the dialog box and apply the font formatting.

Using the Formatting Toolbar

You can use the Formatting toolbar (see Figure 3.4) to apply common formatting elements 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
FontApplies a font to the selected text.
Font SizeSets the selected text's size. Choose any common size from 8 to 96 points, or type any size in the edit box.
BoldBolds the selected text.
ItalicItalicizes the selected text.
UnderlineUnderlines the selected text.
ShadowApplies a shadow to the selected text.
Align LeftAligns text to the object's left margin.
CenterCenters text within the object.
Align RightAligns text to the object's right margin.
NumberingApplies automatic numbering to the selected text.
BulletsApplies bullets to the selected text.
Increase Font SizeIncreases the selected text's size by a few points.
Decrease Font SizeDecreases the selected text's size by a few points.
Decrease IndentOutdents the selected text.
Increase IndentIndents the selected text.
Font ColorApplies the color you choose from the drop-down list to selected text.
DesignOpens the Slide Design task pane.
New SlideCreates a new slide and opens the Slide Layout task pane.

To apply one of these formatting elements, 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 font in your presentation with another font, follow these steps:

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

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

In the Replace drop-down list, select the font that you want to replace. The list contains only fonts your presentation uses.

In the With drop-down list, select the replacement font. The list shows all fonts available to PowerPoint.

Click Replace. PowerPoint replaces the font.

Click Close to return to the presentation.

→ If you are making several text changes to all slides in a presentation, consider using the slide master. To learn how, seeWorking with Slide Masters,” in Chapter 21, p. 466.

Changing Text Case

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

Select the text that you want to change.

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

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

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

  • Sentence case— Capitalizes only the first word in each sentence.

  • lowercase— Makes all letters appear in lowercase.

  • UPPERCASE— Makes all letters appear in uppercase.

  • Title Case— Capitalizes the first letter of every word except for articles (a, an, the, and so on), conjunctions (and, but, or, and so on), and prepositions (to, from, in, and so on), which remain lowercase in titles.

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

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


Remember that an unusual use of case might be difficult to read, particularly uppercase and toggle case. With text, go 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

When a slide looks crowded or too sparse, the line spacing, or the amount of space between lines of text, might be at fault. Adjust line spacing until the text looks right. To specify line spacing, follow these steps:

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

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

In this dialog box, you can set line spacing and space before and after paragraphs. You can set spacing in lines or points. (Points are how typographers measure type. 72 points are in an inch.)

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

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

Click OK to apply the changes.

Setting Alignment

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

  • Align Left— Aligns text to the object's left margin.

  • Center— Centers text between the object's left and right margins.

  • Align Right— Aligns text to the object's right margin.

  • Justify— Spaces words and letters within words so that text touches both margins in the object.

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