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Inserting New Placeholders Within Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

Learn how to add new placeholders within Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac. With new placeholders, you can make your layouts more powerful and customized.

In PowerPoint, a placeholder is a container that you can use to fill in with some content. When you launch PowerPoint, you will see distinctive boxes that invite you to add some content. Haven't you noticed the "Click to add title," "Click to add text,” or “Click to add picture” suggestions? All these boxes are placeholders. When selected, these boxes have a solid border around them, as shown in Figure 1 below.


Figure 1: Part of a new slide showing placeholders with solid borders

Placeholders and Text Boxes

These placeholders are different than text boxes that you insert within your existing slides. Learn more in our Text Placeholders vs. Text Boxes in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac tutorial.

All of PowerPoint's built-in Slide Layouts except the Blank layout contain placeholders. PowerPoint provides several placeholders that can contain various types of content such as text, tables, charts, pictures, clip art, SmartArt diagrams, or media clips. For example, if you add a new slide based on the Title and Content layout, you'll find two placeholders: one for the slide title and the other for any single content type (see Figure 1, shown previously on this page). Each of the default layouts comprises a collection of various placeholders. If none of the available layouts work for you, you can create your own layout with custom placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac, as explained in the following steps:

  1. Launch PowerPoint. You will see the  Presentation Gallery. Here, select the Blank Presentation to open a blank presentation with a new slide. Access the View tab of the Ribbon and click the Slide Master button, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2.

  2. Figure 2: Slide Master button within the View tab of the Ribbon
  3. This opens Slide Master view, as shown in Figure 3. In Slide Master view, you'll see that the left pane contains two distinctly different elements: a larger thumbnail representing the Slide Master (highlighted in red within Figure 3) and several smaller slide thumbnails below representing individual Slide Layouts (highlighted in blue within Figure 3).

  4. Figure 3: Slide Master and Slide Layouts within PowerPoint
  5. Now, insert a new Slide Layout and make sure it is selected, as shown in Figure 4. We will add one or more placeholders to this layout. Optionally, you can follow the same procedure to add placeholders to any of the existing Slide Layouts.

  6. Figure 4: New Slide Layout selected
  7. With the Slide Layout still selected, click the down-arrow of the Insert Placeholder button (highlighted in red within Figure 5) within the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon.

  8. Figure 5: Insert Placeholder button
  9. This brings up a drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 6.

  10. Figure 6: Insert Placeholder drop-down gallery
  11. Note: If you click the left portion of the Insert Placeholder button (highlighted in blue within Figure 5, shown earlier on this page), you will end up selecting your last-inserted placeholder type.
  12. All the placeholder types within the Insert Placeholder drop-down gallery can be populated with the content types explained below.


  13. Content

  14. A content placeholder is a combination of seven types of content: text, pictures, charts, tables, SmartArt, media clips, and clip art. This placeholder appears almost like a text placeholder. But it additionally contains a small palette of icons in the center: one for each of the other 6 non-text content types. Note that each Content placeholder can hold only one type of content at a time within a slide. Figure 1, earlier on this page shows a Content placeholder.
  15. Content (Vertical)

  16. This placeholder is same as Content placeholder, but text and content will be placed vertically, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 7.

  17. Figure 7: Content (Vertical) placeholder
  18. Text

  19. For bulleted text.
  20. Text (Vertical)

  21. This placeholder is same as Text placeholder, but the text will be placed vertically. It looks just like the Place holder you see in Figure 7 above, but there will be no content place holders.
  22. Picture

  23. For a picture.
  24. Chart

  25. For a chart.
  26. Table

  27. For a table.
  28. SmartArt

  29. For a SmartArt diagram.
  30. Media

  31. For media files such as audio or video clips.
  32. Online Image

  33. For an online image.
  34. Choose the placeholder type you want to add, and drag on the slide layout to insert the placeholder. You can insert multiple placeholders one after the other to create your customized layout. For this tutorial we have added Text, Chart, and SmartArt placeholders as you can see in Figure 8 below (compare with Figure 4, shown earlier on this page).

  35. Figure 8: Placeholders added to the new slide layout
  36. You can then rename the new slide layout as explained in our Duplicate, Rename, and Edit Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac tutorial. We renamed our new layout as "Text Chart SmartArt", which can be seen in the tool-tip in Figure 8 above.
  37. When done, click the Close Master View button on the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon (highlighted in blue within Figure 8). This will get you back to Normal View.
  38. Access the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the Layout button to bring up the Layout drop-down gallery as you can see in Figure 9, below. Notice that your new layout shows up here with the name that you provided (highlighted in blue within Figure 9), ready to be used to create a new slide.

  39. Figure 9: Custom Layout added with new placeholders.
  40. Note: The new layouts you create are saved as part of the presentation, and are not available in any other presentations you create. Other than adding placeholders to your new Slide Layouts, you can also change their slide backgrounds.

    Additionally, you can rename Slide Layouts as explained in our Duplicate, Rename, and Edit Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac tutorial.

  41. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Slide Master and Slide Layouts: Inserting New Placeholders Within Slide Layouts in PowerPoint (Index Page)

Inserting New Placeholders Within Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Inserting New Placeholders Within Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Inserting New Placeholders Within Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Inserting New Placeholders Within Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows