Advanced: Formatting Text - The Power of Words

About this lesson

Words are the foundation of all PowerPoint slides.  They are typically on every page and can be more precise than images.  Learn all about the strategies of placing words on the page and then formatting text most effectively to communicate.

This tutorial covers everything you need to know about text and PowerPoint.


The presentation focuses on the effective use of words in presentations.

Words are emphasized as having more power than images, and as such, they should be the core tool for precise communication. While graphics can be used to supplement words, it is the use of well-chosen words that will make a presentation effective. The tutorial covers different text-based PowerPoint tools that can help achieve the goal of precise communication, including layout, typography, and various text enhancements.

The tutorial emphasizes the importance of making sure that each slide has a singular goal and message. One can try slide animation tools if it requires multiple bullet points to build to that conclusion. For instance, each line appearing as the speaker discusses it, and then fades as one moves on to the next bullet point.

When designing a presentation, font size, and readability should be considered. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of the target presentation destination and select the font that will be readable on a big conference room projector or in a Zoom meeting. The presentation covers different typography families, each with its unique dimension, and how they can impact alignment. The presentation also shows how to use enhancements like bold or italic, or underline to modify the look of fonts.

The tutorial covers some bonus, less-known font choices, such as small caps, which add an emphasis to titles in a subtle but classy way. It also covers how to use the shadow format to alter the shadow’s color or size to control the shadow’s appearance for a sophisticated text format emphasis. Additionally, it advises against overdoing emphasis and limiting enhancements to one or two, as too much emphasis can become a visual distraction.

Finally, the tutorial covers some common mistakes to avoid when using text in PowerPoint, such as adding too many words to a slide or inserting a text box that doesn’t match the design theme. Instead, one should use PowerPoint’s built-in workflow tool of layout, which is based on design themes and controls the look and feel of the presentation. There are dedicated layouts for specific slide needs such as picture slides and various text combinations. To access the layout menu, one should go to the Home Ribbon Menu and use the drop-down layout action icon.


  • 03:43 The Slide Layout Strategies
  • 05:56 Resetting Slide To Design Specifications
  • 06:23 Brutal Editing to Remove Excess
  • 07:11 Format Text to Laser Focus
  • 08:03 Too MUCH Formatting
  • 08:43 Comparison Slide Layout
  • 09:51 How Many Lines on a Slide?
  • 11:25 Bullet Point Animation
  • 13:05 How to Add Exit Color Animation
  • 14:06 Text Box PowerPoint Autofit
  • 15:25 Why Font Lengths Don’t Match
  • 16:12 Font Readability
  • 16:48 Typography Impact
  • 17:27 How to Enable Small Caps
  • 18:18 Advanced Shadow Font Options
  • 18:41 How to Change Shadow Font Background Color


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility All versions of PowerPoint - Windows and macOS


Course Completed

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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Effective use of words, in presentations. Words, hold immense power, even more than images. WHAT?? Look at this photo. What are the words that come to mind? A visit to the beach . . . a cold beach . . . where is the sun? And who are they? And why are they not happy? O-h-h-h some nice knitted sweaters. But everyone is so white. And each of us has so many more. Isn’t that variety of internal thoughts good for a presentation? Yes, it’s true that a photograph can be worth 1000 words. But that is actually a horrible thing for a PowerPoint presentation. Your message must be precise and laser-purposed. well-chosen words are the tool for precision communication. Hey, this is Les with my behind-the-scenes commentary. This PowerPoint presentation layout is very specialized with a well-timed script. individually. These Slides break presentation design rules, but you just experience the effectiveness of text married to a concept of focus word enhanced by a scripted voiceover slideshow. For this specific slide page, I offset this starkness of potentially too many words, with PowerPoint animations to bring the bullet points on one at a time as the script matched the concept. Making one slide appear like four Slides as we progress through each of the bullet points. Maybe too many words. But more importantly, they are all laser focused on the central theme that words equal percision. More on this in the upcoming tutorial contents in just a moment. The use of words in PowerPoint is the most powerful tool. And to leverage this power, you need to know all the tools to achieve your goal of precise communication. And PowerPoint has many text based tools to work for you. Yes, yes, there are way too many words on this slide. And the floating bullet point animation does not fix this issue. But the point of this specific slide is not to describe this seven listed tutorial items. But to visually show that there is a collection of many tools to choose from. The emphasis is on the many, with a hope that possibly one or two tools might pique your interest. To continue watching the rest of this tutorial, we’ll focus on leveraging all of the text based PowerPoint tools to maximize your message such as exploring layout typography, cool professional tricks to make your presentation effective. So Let’s power up on the power of text in PowerPoint. Before going further, I am not saying to not use graphics. But instead, I want to emphasize that your core tool should be idea based words. And while my other tutorials will cover other graphic techniques. You see here that this class is almost all text based. Let’s get to work. And while we are text focused, this slide has an overwhelming number of words. While I could edit out some of the bullet points. Let’s see some other techniques. Starting with the slide layout. Look how the slide is so much better. If I split the long list into two sections. And here’s how we could do it. The wrong way would be to add in an inserted text box. Why wrong? Because it will not obey the stylistic rules of our design theme with potential wrong font sizes, bullets, shapes and colors. The ideal way is to utilize a PowerPoint built in workflow tool of layout. Layouts are based on design themes, and controls the look and feel of the presentation. And there are dedicated layouts for specific slide needs. Let’s look closely each of the design styles that we saw moments ago have artistically selected colors, fonts, and a look with a dedicated variations called layout template. There are templates for title Slides for picture Slides and various text combinations. To see what layout is currently used, or to change it. Go to the Home Ribbon Menu and use the drop down layout action icon

Here, we see that the current slide is assigned to the title and content layout, one title, and one text based bullet point placeholder. But if I click two content, I instantly get a matching second text content placeholder to the right. While, I could type in my content, or cut and paste, I’m going to highlight the bottom half of the list and drag it over to the second placeholder box. All should be good. But if you’ve made some changes to the fonts or the font sizes, before applying the layout, there may be some deviances from the core design theme. Let’s compare the fonts in both boxes. On the right side, we have Century Gothic 18 point. On the left, we’ve got the same font family. But now to point bigger at 20 Point. The best fix for this is to make sure that the slide is conforming to the original layout specification. And to do that, we’re going to reset the slide settings. Go to the Home Ribbon Menu and click Reset. Now for a click double check, new right hand textbox 18 point font size and the left side 18 points. Excellent. Everything is in balance. Let’s move on to brutal editing. Just because the slide looks better in two columns as opposed to one long list does not mean it is optimum. Always look to edit out any unnecessary words or ideas. Be laser focused. On closer examination, we do find some unrelated bullet points. The first and last two ideas could be moved to another slide. So let’s cut them out. And now we have all the text based strategies on the left side. And the more graphical elements listed on the right. By removing the excess, we’re getting closer to the more targeted slide message. Now focus with formatting, we can instantly organize our slide with subtle typography enhancements, and the use of bullet points. Here, I will indent all the support techniques for text enhancements, highlight and hit the tab key. Or as they do here, I’m going to use the indent action icon. And then I’ll repeat for the items under graphic enhancements. And emphasize the category titles even more, I will make it bold, a larger font size and change the color. And the simple trick to match the other side is to highlight the desired text look, find the Format Painter brush, and then click and drag over the target text to get the identical format settings. Here is my underlined commentary. We did bold and colorize the heading and you can go back and add underlined or italics. But it’s a common graphic design rule not to overdo the emphasis. Perform one or two enhancements, but to not throw everything to highlight the target text as it becomes a visual distraction. Look critically, does the underlying actually add anything to this slide? So for the previous slide, we did have to add formatting to the top row. In fact, the top row is really just a mini title. For each of the two text boxes, there’s a better way, almost all design themes will have a dedicated layout. For two text box comparisons lines, go to Home, and the drop down box for layout and find comparison. The layout has two side by side bullet text placeholder boxes, plus two title headers above each. The beauty of this layout is that the formatting is already applied for both of the placeholder titles. This is even more important and convenient if you have multiple comparison Slides in your presentation, and you will automatically have a consistent formatting for all the Slides. So to review the before and after we balanced the text with two columns. We removed unrelated bullet points and applied comparison title. So our long list is now organized and manageable for our audience to better understand. Which brings us to the complex question of how many lines should I have on a single slide

It is complex, but a better question is, how many concepts should I have on one slide? That’s easy. Just one, each slide should have a singular goal and message. If it requires just a single set of words, then so be it. And yes, you’re going to have targeted graphics to supplement the single focus concept, get creative. Sometimes, you do have a single goal, but you need multiple bullet points to build to that conclusion. If so, try the slide animation tool, like we are on this page, with each line appearing as I discuss it, and then fade as we move on to the next bullet point. Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to do this in the next chapter. Another factor is the method of delivery. If you’re presenting on a big screen to a roomful of people, over zoom, or team video conferences, consider using fewer lines to keep people focused and make it easier to read. If you’re distributing the presentation in a print out, then you can squeeze much more on a page as people are used to the density of info per page when reading. Lastly, consider the overall density of words on the page. Don’t think that a two bullet point slide is just fine. If you have paragraph of words for each bullet point. And this promise, here’s the Chapter A bullet point animation. To get the lines to appear one at a time, go to the Animation tab on the Ribbon Menu. And there’s a trick to make this simple and fast. And that is to make sure you select that text box placeholder and not the inside text. Let’s see what I mean by doing it the right way. See how the textbox is selected with the eight selector circles at the edge of the placeholder. And now I get to pick my animation of choice. I like the simple but obvious float animation. And with a click PowerPoint previews the effect with each bullet grouping floating in one at a time. And then we see the animation number next to each grouping showing the order of the floating bullet entries. In our advanced animation class, you will see how to fine tune this order. For now, I want to show the common mistake, so I will undo what we just did. Now the wrong method. This time, instead of selecting the text placeholder, I will highlight all the text and then apply the same float animation. Now the text comes up all at once wrong. Let me undo this and quickly go back and reapply the animation as we did before. But this time once again selecting the Full Text box before applying the float in animation. And sure enough, in the presentation view, the bullet groups advance one at a time for pretty quickly here as I sped it up for our tutorial. But in the previous chapter, the lines change color after talking about the topic. This is also easy to add, but only if you know where to look. In the Animation menu, I must find the Animation Pane Review button on the top right hand corner. This is a critical tool for advanced animation management. Then locate the drop down arrow next to our animated bullet list and find effect option. From there find after animation and select the color you want it to change to click OK. And you’re good to go. And now after displaying one bullet grouping, and clicking to the next animation, the previous bullet point fades to the chosen color. Very simple and effective in presenting a page with many bullet points. Now let’s move on from the slick animation text trick to the annoyance the mysterious changing font size. Let’s examine the font size on this slide with many lines of text. Currently, it’s at 19 Point. And if I added another line of text, look, the font change down from 19 to 17. What’s happening here,

PowerPoint will start to shrink your font size down. If you add more lines of text than that will fit in the text placeholder. Microsoft is just trying to be helpful to shrink the text to fit the slide. How to know if this is impacting your slide? Look for the up and down opposing arrow icon on the bottom left of the text placeholder. If it’s there, the feature is enabled, but by clicking the double facing arrow As you can change how it behaves, watch when I select Stop fitting text to placeholder, and the text goes to the standard layout font size, and in this case runs off the bottom of the page. If I turn Autofit text to placeholder back on, it now fits with PowerPoint calculating what font size to use. Mystery solved. I have more fonts strangeness, font length. This is more of a typography quirk. And so Microsoft can’t be blamed this time. Font Size lengths will match if using this same font. Okay, technically, this is not 100% true if the font is a proportional font. But that’s not my concern. Now. Look at this slide example, I have three different fonts Calibri, Corbel, and Bookman old, and they are all 28 points in size. But now look at the length of each line. Different typography fonts are designed with different dimensions. And so mixing fonts on a slide may give you issues with alignment. So just take note. Font size and readability. When designing a presentation, you should be aware of your target presentation destination and select the font that will be readable, be it on a big conference room projector, or in a Zoom meeting. A great idea is to have a sample Slides like this, to test the room in advance to see which line can be seen at the back of the room. Or look for my tutorial about how to design Slides for testing in a projector room with a free download. But this also opens up the topic of how different typography families may be easier to read on a big screen, but offset by the emotion they brings to a presentation. Look as I preview a variety of different font choices, and how it changes the character of the slide page. Consider searching for additional training on how to select the right font from a graphic design expert, which I don’t pretend to be. No matter what font you do select, you can modify the look by adding enhancements like bold or italic, or underline.

Better, some bonus less known choices, such as small cap, which you don’t see from the shortcut menu. Instead, with the text selected, go to the Home Ribbon Menu and find a font, the angle pop out window icon to get more choices. Here we find multiple options, including the standard, all caps, which When selected, transforms all the texts to capitalization, whether you meant to or not. But my favorite emphasis trick is small caps, which When enabled, all the letters are shown in uppercase. But any letter that had been capitalized will be bigger, taller, which I think adds an emphasis to titles in a classy but subtle way. And talk about subtle, the shadow format. Maybe too subtle. Watch. When I turn it on for just the word “advanced,” you will have to look very closely to see that there’s a black backdrop shadow, which in other color styles might be just what’s needed to make it pop off the page. But what if you want to alter the color or the size the shadow. PowerPoint makes that hard to find. But let’s go look for it. Make sure the text is highlighted and get ready. Then find the shape format context aware menu. Next, click the pop out arrow for shape style. And now focus over on the right side of the page. On the Format Shape pane. We’re not done as the change options are still hidden. So look for the text options, and then the middle icon. This has to be one of the most hidden menus in PowerPoint. But once there were given a wealth of control of the background text shadow, well, I will not show every feature. Let me demo a few in an exaggerated fashion. To make it more obvious. First, I’m gonna change the color to red. Remember, I’m exaggerating for emphasis. But to see even more, I want to go back and now expand the distance of the shadow away from the host text. Now, you can see how to control the appearance of the shadow for a sophisticated text format emphasis. This is a very complex technique, but you have now learned about the variety of PowerPoint tools to make your text take center stage in your presentation. From here, you can explore our Power Up Training graphic PowerPoint videos. I recommend that you continue with the power of words by starting the mastering of SmartArt which illustrates your idea based words into visual workflows. Click and Go Power Up!