PowerPoint Bullets Bye Bye


Why would you want to get rid of bullets in your presentations? In short, they can turn a good presentation into a boring one.

But how do you get rid of bullets?

Recently, a woman read my article from the January, 2004 issue of Presentations magazine, "A PowerPoint world without bullets is possible, and beautiful as well" and called me to ask if I had any courses explaining how to create presentations without bullets. She was interested in a guide, templates, how to design slides, a sample set of slides, and more.

I don't have such a course (yet), but I wanted to offer a quickie solution for now. Before that, let me say a couple of things:

  • Designing presentations without bullets is easy, but involves layout, thinking about your content and the processes you're describing, working with images that function as metaphors, and more.
  • I recommend Cliff Atkinson's book, Beyond Bullet Points. It's a complete system for designing and organizing presentations without bullet points.

Now for the shortcut. This is especially useful if you have existing presentations that you want to change in a hurry.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open a presentation that has bulleted text.
  2. Display the master (View > Master > Slide Master). You see an example here.
  3. You might as well start by deleting the third to fifth level, which I recommend that you never use. So many outline levels makes for a confusing organization of ideas.
  4. Select the first two levels and choose Format > Bullets and Numbering.
  5. In the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, click None and then click OK to return to your slide.
  6. You're not done yet, because if you type text on a slide that wraps to a second line, that second line will be indented as it is for bulleted text. So, make sure that the Ruler is displayed. (View > Ruler.) Here I've labelled the markers that you need to work with.
  7. Click the first level of text, as you see in the image and drag the Hanging indent marker for the first level text all the way to the left, so that it's underneath the First Line Indent marker for first level text. This lines up the text so that it's all aligned in block format to the left.
  8. Click the second level of text and drag the Hanging indent marker for the second level text so that it's underneath the First Line Indent marker for second level text. The indent markers should be lined up like this:
  9. Click Close Master View on the Slide Master View toolbar and you're done

You need to go through your presentation and see if this works. (You can always undo your change!) If you have slides that have a lot of text on them, you may feel that the slide is now confusing. For example, here's a slide with the bullets.

Here's the same slide without bullets.

It's hard to tell where one item starts and another ends.

Here's one solution:

By alternating text colors, you can distinguish between the items.

But, as I mentioned at the beginning, another solution entirely might work better. This is the concept of thinking about your content in terms of processes.

Try this with your own presentations and see what you can come up with!

Original article entitled: "Quickly get rid of bullets"
originally written by Ellen Finkelstein

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