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Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2003 for Windows

Learn how to create outlines for presentations in Microsoft Word 2003 for Windows. These are formatted for failsafe import into Microsoft PowerPoint.

The most-used technique to create a PowerPoint presentation is to launch PowerPoint and start creating new slides. Alternatively, you can opt for these three common ways in which you can create slides. The best of these three ways is to start creating presentation slides 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.

We already showed how you can create outlines in Notepad (Microsoft Windows) and TextEdit (Mac OS X). We still maintain that it's best you use either of these text editors but if you already created a structure for your presentation in Microsoft Word (or if your boss or colleague sent you one), it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel.

Follow these steps to create an outline for your PowerPoint presentation using Microsoft Word 2003 for Windows:

  1. Launch a new Word document (see Figure 1).

  2. Figure 1: Word 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. From the main menu, choose Format | Styles and Formatting option (see Figure 3).

  6. Figure 3: Styles and Formatting
  7. This will open the Styles and Formatting Task Pane, that you can see in Figure 4.

  8. Figure 4: Styles and Formatting Task Pane
  9. The Styles and Formatting Task Pane displays minimum styles by default. To see all the styles, access Show popup list and choose All styles option (see Figure 5).

  10. Figure 5: All styles
  11. This will populate the pane with all the styles, as shown in Figure 6.

  12. Figure 6: All styles in Task Pane
  13. 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 that you need to follow these guidelines:


    1. For slide titles, select the text and choose Heading 1 style.
    2. For first level bullets (or subtitles in a title slide), select the text and choose Heading 2 style.
    3. For the second level bullets, select the text and choose 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.).
  14. Once you are done adding styles, your outline may look like what you see in Figure 7 (compare to Figure 2).

  15. Figure 7: Text content for your slides after adding styles
  16. 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 8. As you can see in Figure 8, we added some text to indicate that a table has to be added to a particular slide, and it is within parentheses.

  17. Figure 8: Indicating non-textual content within parentheses
  18. Save your Word file. This outline is now in a format that PowerPoint can import, and create new slides. To learn how to import this outline into PowerPoint 2003, look at our Import Outlines in PowerPoint 2003 for Windows tutorial.
  19. To learn how to import this outline into various other versions of PowerPoint, look at our Outlines: Import page.

See Also:

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

Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 365 for Windows
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 365 for Mac
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2019 for Windows
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2016 for Windows
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2016 for Mac
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2013 for Windows
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2010 for Windows
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word 2007 for Windows
Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word Online