PowerPoint: Like toppings on pizza

You may never have looked at Outline View in PowerPoint. But, if you have presentation that has text you should check it out. Working in Outline View is not only the fastest way to build the outline, it creates a more robust and easily edited presentation as well.

By default, when you add text in Outline view, the text is placed in a text placeholder. Placeholder text is easier to edit than text in text boxes.

Here is a little experiment you can do.

Start by adding some text in Outline view. The default Layout “Title and Content” is used.

Looking at a slide in Outline View. The text appears in both the Outline View and the slide.


Here is what the slide looks like in Slides View, again the text is the same in the Slides View panel and in the slide itself.

The Slides View panel

Now try changing the layout to one without a content placeholder. The text remains in Outline View and on the placeholder in the slide. Then, move the text placeholder around and resize it.

Now, change the layout back to “Title and Content” and you’ll find the placeholder snaps back to its original position and size. If you tried recolouring the text, press the Reset button (just underneath the Layout button) and it too will revert to the default appearance set by the placeholder.

Now, compare this with the behaviour of text in text boxes.

This text is in a text box. Note that it does not appear in Outline view.

This text is not connected with the placeholder on the slide. It is “floating” on top of the slide “like toppings on a pizza” in the poetic words of one of my former coworkers.

This lack of connection can make it harder to manage in the long run.

Text box text in slide with placeholders. Text box text in slide with placeholders.

Note what happens when I change the layout to “Title and Content“. The text box is actually floating underneath the placeholder. What a pain for editing! Resetting the slide has no impact on text in text boxes. Also, you’ll notice that the text is not visible in Outline View, so none of those tools are available for editing either.

Does that mean that I never use text boxes?

Of course not, I use text boxes when I want to create text that will remain independent of the general formatting rules for the presentation. But since consistency in formatting is a sign of a professional presentation, I use text boxes sparingly.

This post is originally from 2016. If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca