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Creating PowerPoint Outlines in Microsoft Word Online

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

The 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 various versions of Microsoft Word. In this tutorial, we will create the outline using Word Online, the browser-based version of Microsoft Word.

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

  1. Launch Word Online, and create a new document, as shown in Figure 1.

  2. Figure 1: Word Online 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. If you don't know what a text placeholder in PowerPoint is, refer to our Text Placeholder vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint Online tutorial.

  4. Figure 2: Text content for your slides
  5. Now, access the Home tab of the Ribbon. Then within the Styles group, click the More Styles button, as shown highlighted in green within Figure 3.

  6. Figure 3: More Styles button
  7. Collapsed, Simplified Ribbon?

    Can't find the More Styles button on the Ribbon? This may be because the Simplified Ribbon option is turned on. Make sure that this option is turned off, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3, above.

  8. Clicking the More Styles button brings up the Styles gallery, as shown in Figure 4.

  9. Figure 4: Styles gallery
  10. 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 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.).
  1. Once you are done applying styles, your outline may look like what you see in Figure 5 (compare Figures 2 and 5).

  2. Figure 5: Text content for your slides after adding styles
  3. One aspect that we want to draw your attention to is that you can only add 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. You'll notice that we added some text to indicate that a picture has to be added to a particular slide, and this indication is within parentheses.

  4. Figure 6: Indicate non-textual content within parentheses
  5. Save your Word file. Now your outline is ready to be imported into PowerPoint.

See Also:

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

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