To make your text look consistent and clear, indentation is a must, especially if your text paragraphs comprise multiple bulleted levels. While the easiest way to play with indents is via the Indent Markers visible on the Ruler, this method does not let you precisely position the indentation since you just drag and pull the Indent Markers rather than setting them up via an exact numerical value. Fortunately, you can also set indentation using set numerical values. For this you need to access the Format Text dialog.
Before we proceed, let's refresh our knowledge about the three Indent Markers available in PowerPoint to manipulate text:
First Line Indent Marker determines the beginning position of the bullet character (or the number in a numbered list).
Hanging Indent Marker adjusts the spacing between the bullet character (or number) and the subsequent, following paragraph.
Left Indent Marker essentially links the First and Hanging Indent Markers that we have already explained in the preceding paragraphs.
Do note that the Format Text dialog box only lets you manipulate the First Line and Hanging indent. You may think that you cannot control the Left indent but that's also possible although the term Before text is used in this dialog box to signify what essentially us the Left indent setting.
Follow this process to explore how you can set text indentation using numerical values in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac:
- Select the text level for which you want to change the indentation.
Figure 1: Bulleted paragraphs selected
- Summon the Format Text dialog following any of the two ways explained below:
- i. Right-click (or ⌘ +click) the selected text. From the context menu, select the Paragraph option, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Paragraph option selected within the context menu
- ii. Alternatively, select the Format | Paragraph menu option as show in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Paragraph option selected within the Format menu
- Either way, you will summon the Format Text dialog box as shown in Figure 4. Make sure that the Paragraph option is selected within the sidebar. Also, make a note of all the default Indentation values (highlighted in red within Figure 4).
Figure 4: Paragraph Indentation options within Format Text dialog box
- There are essentially 3 Indentation values: Before text, Hanging (By) and First Line (By).
- Let us explore the effect of changing each of these values on the selected text. Start with Before text option. In Figure 5, you can see that we have changed the Before text value to 3.25 (highlighted in red). Also notice the change in the position of the selected text.
Figure 5: Before text value changed
- Figure 6 below shows the change in the position of the selected text when we changed the By value to 1.25, with the First Line option selected (highlighted in red), keeping the Before text value at default.
Figure 6: By value changed with First Line option selected
- Now, look at Figure 7, where we changed the By value to 1.25, with the Hanging option selected (highlighted in red), keeping the Before text value at default.
Figure 7: By value changed with Hanging option selected
- Once the Indentation values are set as required, click the OK button within the Format Text dialog box to apply the changes and get back to your slide. For most practical purposes, it does not matter if you choose the Hanging or the First Line indents if you only want to alter the Before text values. Both nearly get the same results. The main differences stem when you change the values in the By text box. We changed this value to 1.25 while using both the First Line and Hanging indents. While the former retained the bullet characters at almost the same position while altering the position of the text paragraphs (see Figure 6 above), the latter retained the position of the text paragraphs and altered the position of the bullet characters (see Figure 7 above).
- Having said so, we still believe that changing indents using the Ruler is a far more intuitive way of setting indents unless you want to match indents from some existing text.