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Picture Bullets in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

Learn how to use pictures as bullets in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows. You may end with some creative results.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

OS: Microsoft Windows XP and higher

PowerPoint provides several bullet styles, and you can choose from them, but they do look a little canned since almost every PowerPoint slide these days uses the same bullet styles! You could get rid of bullets altogether and use a small sentence instead, or maybe you could explore picture bullets, to insert any picture as your bullet. Of course, for picture bullets to work, your picture needs to be small, no larger than a medium-sized dot. And it helps if it has transparent areas. If all this talk about the size and transparency of a picture bullet makes you dizzy, don't worry because PowerPoint has so many picture bullets built within the program!

So what does a picture bullet look like? Look at Figure 1, where the first bullet uses PowerPoint's default bullet style. The second and third bullets use picture bullets from PowerPoint's built-in picture bullets collection.

Picture bullets in PowerPoint
Figure 1: Picture bullets in PowerPoint

To add these picture bullets, follow these steps:

  1. Open any presentation or create a new one. Then navigate to the slide where you want to add picture bullets. Select the bulleted text:
  1. a. If you want to make changes to just one bullet in the text placeholder (or text box), select that individual line.
  2. b. If you want to make these changes to all the bullets in the text placeholder (or text box), you can select the entire placeholder by clicking on the edge of the placeholder (see Figure 2).
  3. Slide with bulleted text
    Figure 2: Slide with bulleted text
  1. Access the Home tab of the Ribbon. Within the Paragraph group, click the arrow beside the Bullets button (highlighted in blue in Figure 3). This brings up the Bullets gallery, as shown in Figure 3. Within this gallery, choose the Bullets and Numbering option (highlighted in red in Figure 3).
  2. Bullets gallery
    Figure 3: Bullets gallery
  3. This will open the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, as shown in Figure 4. Make sure that the Bulleted tab of this dialog box is selected. Click the Picture button (highlighted in red in Figure 4 below).
  4. Bullets and Numbering dialog box
    Figure 4: Bullets and Numbering dialog box
  5. This brings up the Picture Bullet dialog box, as shown in Figure 5. Here, you can see PowerPoint's built-in picture bullets collection. You can scroll down to see more picture bullets.
  6. Picture Bullet dialog box
    Figure 5: Picture Bullet dialog box
  7. In addition, this dialog box provides two options:
  1. a. Select the Include Content from checkbox (highlighted in blue in Figure 5 above) to view picture bullets from Microsoft Office's online collection.You must be connected online for this option to work.
  2. b. You can also type any keyword within the Search text (highlighted in red in Figure 5 above) and click the Go button to narrow down your results. However, be aware that this option ends up searching everything within Microsoft Office's online collection, and you may end up seeing high-res images that do not work as bullets!
Tip: Many small graphics that are suitable for use as bullets have the keyword "bullet" assigned to them. The Picture Bullet dialog (see Figure 5) by default only shows clips that have "bullet" as one of their keywords. Once you change the search keywords, you can get the default bullets again by typing the keyword "bullet" in the search box.
  1. As you can see in Figure 6 below, the keyword "flower" shows results for that search term. Now select the desired picture bullet, and click the OK button.
  2. Selected bullet
    Figure 6: Selected bullet
  3. This will take you back to your slide where individual bullets are changed for the selected text, as shown in Figure 7. You can compare Figures 2 and 7 to see the changes.
  4. Bullets changed to picture
    Figure 7: Bullets changed to picture
Tip: Do you want the picture bullet to change in all slides? You can quickly make that customization by working within Slide Master View. We cover the Slide Master in a subsequent tutorial.

See Also:

Picture Bullets in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Picture Bullets in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Picture Bullets in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

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