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Slide Dimensions in PowerPoint - Size Differences

Find out how an additional decimal digit makes a big difference in setting custom file sizes in different versions of PowerPoint.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, 2013, and higher
OS: Windows 7 and higher






Have you ever wanted to use PowerPoint as a graphic program to create posters, web-banner ads, YouTube cover art, etc.? You will then have run into some limitations, especially when you tried to export a PowerPoint slide to a picture with exact size dimensions. In this tutorial, we will explore how a small improvement that Microsoft added in PowerPoint 2013 is providing significant returns.

In PowerPoint 2010 and older versions, you could only use two decimal points after a number unit, such as 13.67 inches. However since PowerPoint 2013 and later versions, you can use a more specific option, such as 13.666 inches. Why is this so important? That is because the graphic file that you export from the PowerPoint slide needs to be an exact, accurate size – and that worked a little flaky for PowerPoint 2010 users.

Let’s use YouTube’s cover art for videos. This sort of cover art is also called custom thumbnail, poster frame, and some other names. The moot point here is that YouTube specifies that the dimensions preferably need to be 1280x720. How will you create a graphic of those exact dimensions in PowerPoint?

This is easier than many believe it to be.

So how does 1280x720 pixels translate in terms of inches or centimeters that PowerPoint uses to define slide aspect ratios?

  • To change the pixel value to inches, you need to divide the actual pixel value by 96.
  • To change the pixel value to centimeters, you need to divide the actual pixel value by 37.79.

Why do you need inches and/or centimeters? It depends upon the Regional Settings in your version of Windows. Depending upon what is set, you will see only inches or centimeters in your PowerPoint dialog boxes.

Anyway, we have made it simple for you to determine the actual size you want your slide to be, via this online calculator. Enter the pixel width and height of the graphic you want to create in PowerPoint (cells are colored yellow), and you can find out the results in inches (cells colored orange) and/or centimeters (cells colored blue). Make a note of these dimensions.

If we entered 1280 and 720 for the Width and Height values, our inch dimensions would be 13.333 and 7.500.

Now let us explore how this works in both PowerPoint 2010 and 2013 for Windows. Let us begin with PowerPoint 2010.

  1. Create a new blank presentation, and then access the Design tab of the Ribbon. Click the Page Setup button to bring up a dialog box of the same name, as shown in Figure 1, below.
  2. Page Setup in PowerPoint 2010
    Figure 1: Page Setup in PowerPoint 2010

  3. You will notice that we changed the value to Custom in the Slides sized for box, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 1, above. Also do note that PowerPoint 2010 does allow adding a value like 13.333 with three decimal places (highlighted in blue). For now, we will click the OK button.
  4. Next, access the Page Setup dialog box again, as shown in Figure 2, below. Notice that the number 13.333 is now changed to 13.33 (area highlighted in blue). You might think that this will not make a difference, but it does because if you export any slide from this presentation as a picture, you will end up with 1279x720 pixels rather than 1280x720 pixels!

    Three decimal digits changed to two
    Figure 2: Three decimal digits changed to two

Let us now replicate the above steps in PowerPoint 2013 and higher:

  1. Create a new blank presentation, and then access the Design tab of the Ribbon. Click the Slide Size button to bring up a drop-down menu. Within this menu, choose the Custom Slide Size option, as shown in Figure 3, below.

    Use the Custom Slide Size option
    Figure 3: Use the Custom Slide Size option
  2. This will bring up the Slide Size dialog box, shown in Figure 4, below.

    Slide Size in PowerPoint 2013
    Figure 4: Slide Size in PowerPoint 2013
  3. You will notice that we changed the value to Custom in the Slides sized for box, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4, above. Also do note that PowerPoint 2013 does allow adding a value like 13.333 with three decimal places (highlighted in blue). For now, we will click the OK button.
  4. Now even if you access the same Slide Size dialog box again, your three decimal digits will be preserved – this is a big difference between PowerPoint 2013 and 2010. Also, if you now export your slides to a graphic file format in PowerPoint 2013, the resultant slide will be exact 1280x720 pixels!
PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts

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