Importing and Setting type in PowerPoint

I mentioned in my first post that we would look at editing type and discuss ways of changing how we approach layout in PowerPoint. So let’s jump in and start tackling that. Let’s be clear: setting long type in PowerPoint really isn’t a good idea. And I know since these tutorials are geared to designers, you are all cringing. But if you just have to cram lots of type into a slide these tips could help you not lose quite as much hair in the process.

I do want to give you a use case: an example of thinking differently with PowerPoint. I work at an advertising agency, and when we present, we often leave the presentation behind as a printout. Some content that would normally not be presented does need to be included in this leave behind.  An example would be commercial scripts. We don’t present the script—they are presented as video stills with voice overs. But we do want a version of those stills with the script included for that leave behind. Setting long scripts in PowerPoint allows us to use one document for both onscreen and print. This way we don’t have to keep up two documents, and you can ensure the formatting remains consistent (well as much as possible within PowerPoint).

I’ve actually made a video tutorial on this subject. I’m not sure I’ll do video for every post. I think I’ll mix it up and sometimes write things out step-by-step and sometimes let you listen to me ramble on. I think this topic is a helpful one to watch–but I know some people just want the quick and dirty directions. So I’m going to just leave a few notes in reference to the video below as well.

Hope this helps someone out there, and we’ll look at some ways to include multiple formatting per frame (via a super secret hack) in our next post.


  1. If you try to paste copy into PowerPoint and it doesn’t work, try using “Edit Paste Special” (cmd-ctrl-v), when the options box pops up, choose unformatted text and voilà…your text will paste in!
  2. By default PowerPoint only allows one font style per master frames box, (the exception being bulleted list, we’ll cover that more later). And, PowerPoint does not have paragraph styles (boo, let me repeat that…booooooooo). So to get multiple types of formatting in one box, you will need to manually format the text paragraph by paragraph.
    1. The easiest way to do this is to take a step back and look at what the majority of your type needs to be set as. Format all the copy in the frame in that style.
    2. Now, select a paragraph that you want different and format that type.
    3. Select the paragraph that you just formatted, and click the format painter at the top of your window.
    4. Highlight the type you want to change to the same format with the format painter.
    5. Lather, rinse and repeat for other paragraphs.
  3. By default, PowerPoint adds an internal margin to every text box. This is can be annoying to us design-types so take it off by accessing the Format Text Box Options and changing those values to “0.”
    1. Right-click or cmd-t on your type, then in the pop-up go to Text Box>Internal Margins.
  4. By default, PowerPoint uses a feature called autofit which will shrink the text in a box as it gets full. Again, not a designer-friendly option. Select ‘do not autofit’ using the Format Tex Box window to turn off this behavior.

Notes: I did make a few errors while training, so to be clear I want to address those:

  1. At one point when referring to ways to access the text formatting options, I mentioned the shortcut ‘apple-t’. I’m showing my age here. The apple key is more commonly known as the cmd button. So the shortcut to get to text and text frame options is ‘cmd-t.’
  2. Around this same time I said to “take off auto fit.” But then chose the option to ‘do not autofit.’  To be clear we do want to disable autofitting, but you do that by selecting the option to ‘do not autofit’ in the Format Text Popup>Text Box>Autofit.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pingbacks & Trackbacks

  1. This Week in InDesign Articles, Number 134 | InDesignSecrets