Do you use placeholders in your PowerPoint files? Or, do you start with a blank slide and add text boxes to hold your content?
Many people are never trained why they are there or why they should use the text holders. Some of this comes from the earlier days of PowerPoint when there was a limit on how many placeholders could be on a slide. Now that you can create your own placeholders (and have been able to for awhile), using placeholders is a habit you should get into. Not using the placeholders to hold your text leads to problems when you want to change the look and feel of a presentation down the line. (There are other kinds of placeholders as well. We’ll talk about them another day.)
What’s a placeholder?
When you first bring up PowerPoint, you are shown a blank slide with two boxes. These boxes have dotted outlines. These boxes are placeholders. Using them allows you to easily format your content the way you want it to look. Type your text into these boxes and they automatically pick up the formatting you have used in your slide masters, layouts, and presentation themes.
Text placeholders contain slide titles, presentation titles and sub-titles, and slide text. Because we used to be limited on what kinds of placeholders were available, some PowerPoint trainers used to recommend you not use them. Now that PowerPoint allows as many placeholders as you want to put on a layout, you should always use them.
What’s the advantage of a placeholder?
Placeholders allow you to worry about content separate from design. By putting your content into a placeholder, it shows up in your outline. You can see at a glance what content is on what slide. You can edit it, refine it, and sculpt it as you want to until it is both succinct and clear.
Because placeholders automatically pick up the font, sizing, color, and other formatting from the slide designs, changing the look and feel of the placeholders on all your slides is a matter of changing the look in one place. When you use text boxes instead, you have to hand format each text box every time you change the look of your presentation.
But I already did the text boxes! Now what?
There are few ways that I know of to take the content of text boxes and get it moved to the placeholders. The hard way is to cut the text from each box and paste it into a placeholder. This is a tedious process that can drive you crazy. But there is a better way. I’ve documented it over on the Office 2010 blog for Symbaloo. Check it out.
While you are at it, check out the web mixes we’ve been creating on Office 2010. There are some really great links there. I know I haven’t found them all. Let me know which ones I have missed!
(Disclosure time: Symbaloo is a client of The Social Media Party, my employer. That’s why I am blogging there. It’s a new way to access web content. Try it, you will like it. Nice and graphical and easy to navigate. I am the community leader for the Office 2010 community over there. Hey, it’s getting me back into my community roots: OneNote and PowerPoint is where I started, after all.)