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What is the Outline?

An outline is a structured story that forms a basis for a presentation -- learn how you can use the outline to create a better presentation in PowerPoint.


An outline within a PowerPoint presentation is all the text content of the presentation that's inserted within any of the text placeholders. If you want to know what a text placeholder is, and how it is different from the other text boxes you see on a PowerPoint slide, check out these tutorials:

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

Although visuals, multimedia, and other slide objects can play an important role within a presentation, a proper outline is still the main skeleton on which the body of a presentation can be sustained. Without a cohesive outline, everything else is akin to a movie that has the best photography, great music, talented cast but no story to put it all together. So how do you create a structured outline -- and does PowerPoint provide sufficiently robust outlining tools?

Yes, PowerPoint has great outlining tools -- until PowerPoint 2003, there used to be a very capable Outlining toolbar. And until PowerPoint 2010, there used to a very-visible Outline tab within the default interface. For some reason, Microsoft has done a “great job” of hiding all the Outlining options! Fortunately, those outlining tools are still available, although not as accessible any longer. We'll explore them in these series of tutorials.

In many ways, PowerPoint can be quite distracting as an outlining tool because rarely do PowerPoint designers concentrate solely on the outline and not go astray formatting fonts, changing backgrounds, or even adding animation. Yes, PowerPoint can be like a candy store with distractions and temptations galore. So it might be a good idea to create your outline outside PowerPoint -- and we'll show you how you can do that in these tutorials:

  1. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Notepad (Windows)
  2. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in TextEdit (Mac OS X)
  3. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Word 2013 (Windows)
  4. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Word 2011 (Mac OS X)
  5. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Word 2010 (Windows)
  6. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Word 2008 (Mac OS X)
  7. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Word 2007 (Windows)
  8. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Word 2003 (Windows)
  9. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Excel (Just to prove a point!)
  10. Creating PowerPoint Outlines on the iPhone or iPad
  11. Creating PowerPoint Outlines in WordPerfect

Once your outlines are created, you need to import it within PowerPoint -- choose your version of PowerPoint:

  1. Import Outlines in PowerPoint 2013 (Windows)
  2. Import Outlines in PowerPoint 2011 (Mac)
  3. Import Outlines in PowerPoint 2010 (Windows)
  4. Import Outlines in PowerPoint 2008 (Mac OS X)
  5. Import Outlines in PowerPoint 2007 (Windows)
  6. Import Outlines in PowerPoint 2003 (Windows)

What is the Outline?

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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©2000-2017, Geetesh Bajaj. All rights reserved.

since November 02, 2000