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Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

Learn about the differences between text placeholders and text boxes in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X






We have already covered the concept of differences between text placeholders and text boxes using PowerPoint 2008 and PowerPoint 2011 on Mac. Now we will explore the same within PowerPoint 2016 for Mac. Let us start with these thoughts:

  • Aren't text boxes and text placeholders the same?
  • Are they really different?
  • And why should anyone bother even if they are different?

All these are valid questions, and the answers to them form one of the most important foundations in learning to create more structured presentations in PowerPoint.

In PowerPoint slides, text can be found in many places: text placeholders, text boxes, tables, charts, the Notes pane, and more places. However, the text within a text placeholder has characteristics that set it a class apart from all other text. So what exactly is a text placeholder, and how is it different from text within a text box or anywhere else?

Look at Figure 1, which shows you what exactly a text placeholder is within a PowerPoint slide. Also note that only text content within the placeholders is part of the presentation's outline.

Text Placeholders
Figure 1: Text Placeholders

  1. In a slide that contains a title and subtitle, text content of both placeholders is contained within the outline.
  2. In a slide that contains a title and text (as in bulleted or non-bulleted content), text content of both placeholders is contained within the outline.
  3. In a slide that has a title with something else such as a chart or a picture, the outline comprises just the title text.
  4. In a slide that has only a title, the outline comprises just the title.

To follow this more clearly, try this small exercise using PowerPoint 2016 for Mac:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2016 to start with a single slide as shown in Figure 2.

    PowerPoint 2016 interface
    Figure 2: PowerPoint 2016 interface
  2. Type some text into the boxes that say: "Click to add title", and "Click to add subtitle" (see Figure 3). These boxes are Text Placeholders that PowerPoint provides as boilerplates to fill in.

    Text typed within the text placeholders
    Figure 3: Text typed within the Text Placeholders
  3. Now, access the View tab of the Ribbon and click the Outline View button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.

    Outline View button
    Figure 4: Outline View button
  4. You'll notice that the text you type within both the placeholders showed up within the Outline View, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 5.

    Outline view shows the text content of both the placeholders
    Figure 5: Outline view shows the text content of both the placeholders
  5. Access the Insert tab of the Ribbon, and click the Text button to open a drop down gallery as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6. Within this drop-down gallery, click the Text Box button (highlighted in blue within Figure 6).

    Text Box button
    Figure 6: Text Box button
  6. Now, drag and draw a Text Box on the slide, and type something in this Text Box. Notice that anything you type within the Text Box does not show within the Outline view (see Figure 7). Only the text typed within the placeholders can be seen in Outline view. The text within the Text Boxes doesn't shows up in the Outline view.

    Text typed within Text Boxes does not show in the Outline view
    Figure 7: Text typed within Text Boxes does not show in the Outline view

Also, when you delete all text in a Text placeholder, you will see the original prompt text, as shown in Figure 2. On the other hand, delete all text in a Text box, and you kill that object forever unless you press +Z quickly to undo!

Although this differentiation between Text Placeholders and Text Boxes may not sound very significant at first, the more structured you get in your approach in creating better PowerPoint presentations, the more important this foundation concept will appear.

So, do remember this important rule: always try to put your text content in placeholders rather than mere Text Boxes as far as you can. Remember that PowerPoint has Slide Layouts that have at least two Text Placeholders, some layouts have even more. Also, if you want, you can even create Slide Layouts with as many Text Placeholders you need.

See Also:

Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2008 for Mac
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2003 for Windows

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003 for Windows
PowerPoint 2016 and 2011 for Mac
PowerPoint Online for Windows and Mac

Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

Go and get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences ebook.


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