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Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2019 for Mac

Learn how to create outlines for presentations in Microsoft Word 2019 for Mac. These are formatted for failsafe import into Microsoft PowerPoint.

An outline encompasses the text content within your presentation slides. In many ways, this text is the story or the structure of your presentation and forms an ideal starting point for a bunch of slides. PowerPoint can import outlines created in many applications, and we have already shown you how you can create outlines for PowerPoint presentations in several versions of Microsoft Word.

Follow these steps to create an outline for your PowerPoint presentation using Microsoft Word 2019 for Mac:

  1. Launch a new Word document, as shown in Figure 1, below.

  2. Figure 1: Word 2019 document
  3. Type in all the text content you want within your slide titles and text placeholders on separate lines, as shown in Figure 2, below.

  4. Figure 2: Text content for your slides
  5. What's a Text Placeholder in PowerPoint?

  6. Do you see all those text containers in PowerPoint that contain prompt text such as Click to add text? Such text containers are called text placeholders because the prompt text gets replaced by the text you type. If you want to know more, look at our Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint page.
  7. Now, access the Home tab of the Ribbon. Then within the Styles group, click the Styles Pane button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3, below.

  8. Figure 3: Styles Pane button within the Styles group
  9. This step brings up the Styles pane, as shown in Figure 4, below.

  10. Figure 4: Styles pane
  11. Now you can format the outline so that PowerPoint can understand which line of text is a slide title, the first level bullet, the second level bullet, etc. To do so, you need to follow these guidelines:


    1. For slide titles, select the text and choose the Heading 1 style.
    2. For first level bullets (or subtitles in a title slide), select the text and choose the Heading 2 style.
    3. For the second level bullets, select the text and choose the Heading 3 style.
    4. For any subsequent levels of bullets (third, fourth, etc.), select the text that you want to format, and apply the Heading style of that level (Heading 4, Heading 5, etc.).
  12. Once you are done applying styles, your outline may look like what you see in Figure 5 (compare Figures 2 and 5).

  13. Figure 5: Text content for your slides after adding styles
  14. One aspect that we want to draw your attention to is that you can only add the text content for a presentation within an outline. However, at times, there may be some important, non-textual info in a presentation: this could be a picture, a chart, a table, or something else. In that case, you can indicate a reference within the outline. Just make it stand out a little different as shown in Figure 6, below. You'll notice that we added some text to indicate that a table has to be added to a particular slide, and it is within parentheses.

  15. Figure 6: Indicate non-textual content within parentheses
  16. Save your Word file. This outline is now in a format that PowerPoint 2019 can import, and create new slides. We show you how you can import this outline into various versions of PowerPoint.

Word Outlines or Text Outlines?

Other than outlines created in Microsoft Word, you can also create outlines in Notepad, TextEdit, or other programs that create plain text files, as explained in our Creating Slides: Creating PowerPoint Outlines Using Text Editors page.


See Also:

Creating Slides: Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word (Glossary Page)

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