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Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn about the differences between text placeholders and Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2016
OS: Windows 7 and higher






PowerPoint has three types of text containers:

  1. Text placeholders,
  2. Text boxes, and
  3. Shapes

We explain Shapes in our comprehensive section on Shape tutorials. Let us now look at the other two text container types. Aren't Text Placeholders and Text Boxes the same? Are they really different? And why should we bother even if they are different?

All these are valid questions, and the answers to these questions will help you create more structured presentations. Let us begin by exploring the relationship between Text Boxes and Text Placeholders in PowerPoint 2016.

Text within a Text Placeholder has characteristics that set it a class apart from all other text within a PowerPoint slide. So what exactly is a Text Placeholder, and how is it different from a Text Box or any other text container?

Figure 1 shows several Text Placeholders within different PowerPoint Slide Layouts. As you can see, most Slide Layouts have at least two Text Placeholders. Some layouts have even more. If needed, you can even create custom Slide Layouts with more Text Placeholders.


Text Placeholders
Figure 1: Text Placeholders

Also, note that only text content within the placeholders is part of the presentation's outline. Let’s explore text content that shows up as a part of the outline in various Slide Layouts, as marked in Figure 1, above:

  1. In a slide that contains a title and subtitle, the outline comprises text content of both placeholders.
  2. In a slide that contains a title and a single Content placeholder (used for Text, Table, Chart, SmartArt, Picture, Online Picture, Other Media Elements), the outline comprises just the text, and not the tables, charts, SmartArt graphics, etc.
  3. In a slide that has only a title, the outline comprises just the title.
  4. In a slide that contains a title and two Content placeholders (Text, Table, Chart, SmartArt, Picture, Online Picture, Other Media Elements), the outline comprises text within all placeholders.

If your slide has the Blank layout that has no Text Placeholders, then no text within that slide is contained within the presentation's outline.

To understand differences between Text Placeholders and Text Boxes more clearly, follow these steps:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2016, and create a Blank Presentation as shown in Figure 2.

    Default PowerPoint interface
    Figure 2: Default PowerPoint 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 Box button (highlighted in red 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 Ctrl + 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 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

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