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Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn about the differences between text placeholders and text boxes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. The differences can be significant.

We have already covered the concept of differences between text placeholders and text boxes using PowerPoint 2008 on Mac. Now we will explore the same within PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. Let us now look at the other two text container types. Aren't text boxes and text placeholders the same? Are they really different? And why should we bother even if they are different? All these are valid questions, and the answers to them form one of the most important foundations in learning to create more structured presentations in PowerPoint.

In PowerPoint slides, text can be found in many places: text placeholders, text boxes, tables, charts, the Notes pane, and more places. However, the text within a text placeholder has characteristics that set it a class apart from all other text. So what exactly is a text placeholder, and how is it different from text within a text box or anywhere else?

Look at Figure 1, which shows you what exactly a text placeholder is within a PowerPoint slide. Also note that only text content within the placeholders is part of the presentation's outline.


Figure 1: Text Placeholders

Let's explore which text shows up as a part of the outline in various Slide Layouts, as marked in Figure 1, above:

A. In a slide that contains a title and subtitle, text content of both placeholders is contained within the outline.

B. In a slide that contains a title and text (as in bulleted or non-bulleted content), text content of both placeholders is contained within the outline.

C. In a slide that has a title with something else such as a chart or a picture, the outline comprises just the title text.

D. In a slide that has only a title, the outline comprises just the title.

To follow this more clearly, try this small exercise using PowerPoint 2011 on Mac:



  1. Launch PowerPoint 2011 to start with a single slide as shown in Figure 2.

  2. Figure 2: PowerPoint 2011 interface
  3. Type some text into the boxes that say: "Click to add title", and "Click to add subtitle". These boxes are text placeholders that PowerPoint provides as boilerplates to fill in. Then change the Slides area to show the Outline Pane (see Figure 3).

  4. Figure 3: Text you type in placeholders shows in the Outline pane
  5. You'll notice that any text you typed showed up in the Outline Pane as well.
  6. Now choose the Home tab of the Ribbon, and within the Insert group, choose the Text Box option (see Figure 4).

  7. Figure 4: Click and drag to insert a Text box
  8. Drag and draw on the slide to create a text box, and type something within this box. Notice that anything you type in this new text box does not show within the slide pane (see Figure 5). That's because the outline does not show anything that is part of a text box. It only shows any text that is part of text placeholders.

  9. Figure 5: Text you type in text boxes does not show in the Outline pane

Although this differentiation between text placeholders and text boxes may not sound very significant at first, the more structured you get in your approach in creating better PowerPoint presentations, the more important this foundation concept will appear. So do remember this important rule: always try to put your text content in placeholders rather than mere text boxes as far as you can.

Remember that PowerPoint has slide layouts that have at least two text placeholders, some layouts have even more, and if you want, you can even create your own slide layouts, but that is something we will cover in a subsequent tutorial.


See Also:

Text and Outlines: Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint (Index Page)

Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 365 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 365 for Mac
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2008 for Mac
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2003 for Windows
Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint Online