Advanced PowerPoint:
Using a Text Outline

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101

Did you want: Working with Presentations: PowerPoint 2007,2010,2013,2016 or español

PowerPoint is perfectly willing to create slides from a plain text outline. Each normal paragraph will be turned into a slide title. Not usually what you want!

If you indent your outline levels using tabs, PowerPoint will follow along and treat those items as bullet points. Better!

Creating a plain text outline for your presentation first can help you organize your thoughts and the flow of ideas on the slides. In a text editor or word processor, you can more easily see the whole outline.

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Presentations

Before you start...

Project 1: PowerPoint BasicsTo subtopics

Project 2: PowerPoint FormattingTo subtopics

Project 3: Advanced PowerPoint
    Outline Arrow to Subtopics
    Icon: Step-by-StepText Outline
    Icon: Step-by-StepWord Outline
    Icon: Step-by-StepCustom Template
    ImagesTo subtopics
    Tables & ChartsTo subtopics
    FinishingTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics


Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step:Text Outline

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to create a text outline
to create a presentation from a text outline
to demote text in outline
to remove a bullet
to create a tabbed text outline
to create a presentation from a tabbed text outline

Start with: Icon: Class disk, Icon: PowerPoint with blank presentation (PowerPoint open to a blank document), resource files

The Story behind this presentation:

World Travel Inc. has a set a brochures about vacation destinations. They want to transform these into PowerPoint presentations to run unattended on a monitor at their booth at a Travel Fair.

What you will create:

An on-screen presentation based on an outline of a brochure about New Zealand. This brochure is also used in Working with the Web: HTML.

Original NZ brochure

Create a Plain Text Outline

  1. Select and copy the text below.

    What to See and Do in New Zealand


      New Zealand is an active, growing place!

        Hot springs


        Boiling mud


    Rain Forests

      Warm, temperate rainforests, teeming with evergreens and giant tree ferns

      Unique wildlife:

        Giant snails

        Giant weta - a cricket-like insect the size of a mouse. Guaranteed harmless!

    Ocean and Beaches

      North Island's beaches match any you've seen.




        Sand yachts

        Hang gliders

        Jet skis


      While New Zealand may be "down under", it is not "behind the times." Her cities feature all of the advantages of civilization

        Fine restaurants

        Modern architecture


    Other Recreation

        Snow Skiing


        Hang gliding

        Bungee jumping


        Wine tasting - 3 world prize winners

    General Information

      Weather Seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere. New Zealand's climate ranges from subtropical in the north to temperate in the South.

      Time New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT. The sun rises first in New Zealand.

      Driving Cars drive down the left of the road, like in the UK and opposite of the USA.

    World Travel Inc.

      Call 54 (1) 821-6543

      We work to help you see the world. 

    This text is formatted with leading spaces without numbering to create the indentions in the outline. We don't want those numbers and letters on the slides!

  2. Open Notepad or another plain text editor.
    (Start | Run | type notepad and click on OK.)

  3. Paste into the blank Notepad document. The outline levels are shown by the indentions.

    nz.txt in Notepad

    TipThe indentions are deeper in Notepad than in the text you copied. The default font for Notepad is a fixed-width font, also called mono-spaced. All characters have the same width. The text that you copied used a proportional font, where blank spaces and narrow characters like i and l are allowed less space than wide characters like w.

  4. From the menu select  File  |  Page Setup .

  5. In the Header text box, add your name and the date.

    Dialog: Page Setup, for Notepad

  6. Click on OK to close the Page Setup dialog.
  7. Icon: Class disk Save to your Class disk with the file name  nz.txt . (If you are using floppy disks, you probably need a fresh disk by now!)
    Full floppy disk How to handle a full Class disk

  8. Icon: Print Print.

  9. Close Notepad.

Open a Plain Text Outline in PowerPoint

Let's see what PowerPoint does with a plain text outline and then how to fix what it does.

  1. Open PowerPoint.

  2. From the menu select  File | Open . The Open dialog appears.

  3. Navigate using the Look in: list to drive A:

    Whoops! No word processing documents are showing, just presentations (assuming you have any on this floppy disk). The Files of type: box still shows Presentations. You must make a change (next step) to see the text documents.

  4. Change the Files of type: box to show All Outlines.

  5. Select nz.txt and click on the Open button.

    Dialog: Open - nz.txt

    PowerPoint is happy to open the file and create slides, but look at the thumbnails! Each paragraph is now a slide title. Whoops. This is not what you want at all. Happily, it is easy to fix - without having to move any text!

    nz.txt opened by PowerPoint

Use Outline Toolbar to Demote

The outline toolbar has buttons that make it easy to manage the outline levels. You will use these buttons to demote the lines that should be bullet points.

  1. Click on the Outline tab at the left to switch to that view.

    Each paragraph from the text outline has a slide icon. You must fix this mess!

  2. Display the Outlining toolbar if it is not already in view. ( View |  Toolbars...  |  Outlining )

    Presentation - Outline tab

  3. Slide 3 selected in Outline tabClick on the slide icon for Slide #3: New Zealand is.... The whole line is selected.

  4. New Zealand... text is demoted to bullet text on Slide 2.Click Button: Demote the Demote button, right-facing arrow at the top of the Outlining Bar.
    The title text from Slide 3 is now a bullet item on Slide 2. Better!


  5. Continue by selecting slides 3, 4, 5, and 6 and then demoting them.
    Hmmm. That first bullet on Slide 2 is not really a member of the list. It is a comment. You need to remove the bullet.

  6. Slide 2 - Volcanoes - demoted items in bullet listIn the outline, click in the first text line, New Zealand is..., of Slide 2 .

  7. Click Button: Bullets the Bullets button on the Formatting toolbar. The bullet is toggled off. Simple enough.
    These steps could be repeated for the remaining slides to gather the text onto the slides with the titles. Instead we will stop here and look an another variety of plain text outline, the tabbed text outline.

  8. Icon: Class diskClick the Save button Button: Save. The Save As dialog appears since this presentation has not been saved before. What you saved before was the text file. Use the name  nz-text.ppt .
    Full floppy disk How to handle a full Class disk

Create a Tabbed Text Outline

PowerPoint recognizes tabbed text when it creates slides. If the outline uses tabs instead of spaces to indent the outline parts, the slides will turn out better!

  1. Open Notepad again and open nz.txt from your Class disk.

  2. For lines that have 2 spaces to the left, replace the spaces with one tab. (Select the spaces and press the TAB key.) The indention will be larger than before.

  3. For lines that have 4 spaces to the left, replace the spaces with 2 tabs.
    (Select the spaces and press the TAB key twice.)

  4. Open Page Setup from the File menu and verify that your name and the date are still in the Header box.

  5. Click on OK to close the dialog.

  6. Icon: Class diskFrom the menu select Save As. Use the name  nz-tabbed.txt  to save your revised outline to your Class disk.
    Full floppy disk How to handle a full Class disk

  7. Icon: Print Print.

  8. Close Notepad.

nz-tabbed.txt after replacing spaces with tabs

Open Tabbed Text Outline in PowerPoint

  1. Switch to PowerPoint.
  2. Open nz-tabbed.txt on your Class disk.
  3. Switch to Slide Sorter View by clicking Button: Slide Sorter the Slide Sorter button at the bottom left.

    Slider Sorter view of slides created from nz-tabbed.txt

    Ah! These slides are in much better form that the ones from the first text outline. It pays to TAB!

  4. Icon: Class diskClick the Save button Button: Save. The Save As dialog appears since this presentation has not been saved before. Use the name  nz-tabbed.ppt .
    Full floppy disk How to handle a full Class disk

There are still formatting and layout issues with this presentation. Rather than fight it out manually, let's move on to see how PowerPoint works with a Word outline.

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Last updated: 30 Apr 2012