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Outline Pane Options in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Explore Outline pane options in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows.

The Outline view in PowerPoint 2016 essentially brings up the Outline pane on the left side of the PowerPoint 2016 interface. Note that this now replaces the Slides Pane that shows up in Normal view. Also, any changes you want to make to your outline can be made through right-click options, and we'll show you how you can do so.

Outline Pane Options

Once you access the Outline view, you typically see the title and text content of the slides, as shown in Figure 1. The content shown here replicates what you find in the text placeholders of individual slides.

Figure 1: Outline pane

Tip: You can differentiate a text placeholder from other text boxes very easily:

  • Delete all the text in a text placeholder, and you'll see boilerplate text like "Click here to add text" or similar.
  • Delete all the text in a text box that is not a placeholder, and you'll see no boilerplate text at all.

Remember: The text delete tip that we mention above should be followed with an immediate Undo command (Ctrl+Z) so that all your existing text is back in the placeholder or the text box! Also, do look at our Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial to understand these concepts further.

You can use the Outline pane to change bullet hierarchies, promote bullet levels to titles, and the other way around (demote). You can also reorder the slides, or move bullets from one slide to another fairly quickly. With your text selected, right click anywhere in the Outline pane to bring up the options in the context menu, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Context menu within Outline pane

The right-click context menu is divided into six sections, all the options are explained below, as marked in Figure 2, above.

A. Cut / Copy / Paste

These options are simple, any selected text in the outline can be cut or copied, and thereafter pasted in another section of the outline. The shortcut keys Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V also work for Cut, Copy, and Paste respectively.

B. Collapse / Collapse All

This option hides the bulleted text, so that only the titles of individual slides are visible, Collapse hides the bulleted text relevant to the selected slide (or active slide) whereas Collapse All hides the bulleted text for the outline of the entire presentation. Figure 3 shows the collapsed view of all the slides in the Outline pane.

Figure 3: Collapse All

Expand / Expand All

This is the reverse option for Collapse / Collapse All explained in the preceding section, it displays all the hidden bulleted text. Expand reveals the bulleted text relevant to the selected slide (or active slide, as shown in Figure 2, above) whereas Expand All reveals the bulleted text for the outline of the entire presentation.

C. New Slide / Delete Slide

This inserts a new slide in the Outline pane, at the point where you right-click to activate the context menu shown in Figure 2, above. If you select slide 2, and choose this option, PowerPoint will insert a new slide between slides 1 and 2. Select any slide and choose Delete Slide option to delete that slide. PowerPoint doesn't warn you that the selected slide will be deleted, so use this option with caution.

D. Promote / Demote

Before we get to discuss the Promote and Demote options, let me tell you few things about how the hierarchy of the Outline works in PowerPoint, here's a listing from higher to lower:

Bullet Level 1
Bullet Level 2
Bullet Level 3
Bullet Level 4
and so on...

So if we demoted a Title by one level, it would end up being Bullet Level 1, or a demoted Bullet Level 1 will end up being a Bullet Level 2. On the other hand, if you promote Bullet Level 1, you end up with a Title, this also results in a new slide being created!

This option changes the selected text or slide to one level ahead, as explained within the Hierarchy section earlier on this page. For example, if Promote is applied to a Bullet Level 1 text, it will be converted to a Title of a new slide. Demote option is the exact opposite of the Promote option. It demotes (or reduces the hierarchy by one level of) the selected text / title to the lower level, applying that level's style and formatting.

Tip: Is your Promote option grayed out? You may have selected the Title of a slide, since that's already the highest level, you cannot Promote it further.

The shortcut keys Tab and Shift+Tab work for Promote and Demote respectively.

Note: It's a good idea to practice with these options frequently, you can end up saving a lot of time. Also since you are not working on the slides, this view prevents you from getting distracted by colors, fonts, backgrounds, effects, pictures, etc. You end up concentrating on the structure and flow of the outline, you end up with a better presentation.

E. Move Up / Move Down

These options move the selected text / title up or down so that it appears before or after the previous item in the Outline pane. The text or title is moved up or down without making any changes to its hierarchy though. You can also use the Shift+Alt+Up Arrow and Shift+Alt+Up Down keyboard shortcuts to achieve the same results.

Note: If we selected the last bullet on a slide, and then chose the Move Down option, that would result in the bullet moving to the first bullet position on the next slide.

F. Hyperlink

This option allows you to add a hyperlink to any selected text in outline tab. Personally, we prefer doing this sort of stuff on the slide itself rather than the Outline Pane, but that's just our opinion.

G. Show Text Formatting

This shows the actual font formatting on the Outline pane. There's an unexpected bonus result of using this option, the text content in your Notes pane also shows text formatting if you choose this option!

See Also:

Text and Outlines: Outline Pane Options in PowerPoint (Index Page)

Outline Pane Options in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
Outline Pane Options in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Outline Pane Options in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Outline Pane Options in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Outline Pane Options in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows