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Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Notepad for Windows

Learn how to create outlines for presentations in Notepad for Windows. These are formatted for failsafe import into Microsoft PowerPoint.

When you start creating a new presentation, many users just launch PowerPoint and start creating their slides. Actually, there are three common ways in which you can create slides. Yet, the best way to start creating presentation slides is not from within PowerPoint but by creating an outline in another program. Many purists say that you should not even launch PowerPoint until you have an outline in place.

Several programs can be used to create outlines but Notepad, a small text editing application that has been bundled with every release of Microsoft Windows is probably the easiest option. First, launch Notepad in your version of Microsoft Windows. Then follow these steps to create an outline for your PowerPoint presentation:

  1. Notepad typically launches with a new document (see Figure 1).

  2. Figure 1: Notepad document
  3. Now type in all the text content you want within your slide titles and text placeholders on separate lines, as shown in Figure 2. If you don't know what a text placeholder in PowerPoint is, look here.

  4. Figure 2: Text content for your slides
  5. Now this outline needs to be formatted so that PowerPoint can understand which line of text is a slide title, the first level bullet, the second level bullet, etc. To do that you need to follow these guidelines:
    1. For slide titles, leave the text unchanged.
    2. For first level bullets (or subtitles in a title slide), place your cursor right in front of the line of text that you want to format, and press the Tab key once on your keyboard.
    3. For the second level bullets, place your cursor right in front of the line of text that you want to format, and press the Tab key twice on your keyboard.
    4. For any subsequent levels of bullets (third, fourth, etc.), place your cursor right in front of the line of text that you want to format, and press the Tab key that many times (three times, four times, etc.) on your keyboard.


  6. Once you are done adding tabs, your outline may look like what you see in Figure 3 (compare to Figure 2).

  7. Figure 3: Text content for your slides after adding tabs
  8. 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 is some very important info in a presentation that is not text: it could be a picture, a chart, a table, or something else. In that case, you can mention that within the outline. Just make it stand out a little different as shown in Figure 4. 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.

  9. Figure 4: Indicating non-textual content within parentheses
  10. Save your outline. Notepad typically saves files with a TXT extension. This outline is now in a format that PowerPoint can import, and create new slides.
  11. To learn how to import this outline into various versions of PowerPoint, look at our Outlines: Import page.

See Also:

Creating PowerPoint Outlines in TextEdit for Mac