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 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. The long answer is to read my e-book, Slide Design for Non-Designers.
But I wanted to offer a quickie solution, too. Before that, let me say that designing presentations without bullets is not hard, but involves
- Thinking about your content and the processes you’re describing
- Working with images that function as metaphors
- and more
Now for the shortcut. This is especially useful if you have existing presentations that you want to change in a hurry. Follow these steps:
- Open a presentation that has bulleted text.
- Display the master (View > (Master) > Slide Master). You see an example here. If you’re using 2007 or 2010, click the larger, top layout in the left-hand pane. Changes you make here will affect every slide in the presentation, no matter which layout they use.
- Select the first level of bullets. (You shouldn’t ever use the other levels, so don’t worry about them.) On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Bullets button, to deselect it. (In 2003, do this on the Standard toolbar.)
Note: Depending on your version of PowerPoint, you may find that when you type text on a slide that wraps to a second line, that second line will be indented as it is for bulleted text. To fix this, make sure that the Ruler is displayed (View > Ruler). Here I’ve labeled the markers for the first two levels of text. 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.
Return to Normal view by choosing View> Normal or clicking the Normal view icon at the bottom of the screen 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. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, you can click in the text and choose Convert to SmartArt on the Home tab. You can then quickly turn your text into a diagram. Get more instructions plus a video tutorial on SmartArt.
Try this with your own presentations and see what you can come up with!
[…] On the second slide, enter the introduction text. Use more than one slide if you need to. You probably don’t want bullets. To create a regular paragraph, see my tip, Quickly Get Rid of Bullets. […]
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It still looks like too much text; but if the slides are meant to stay up for a long period while people read and absorb them, perhaps while filling in a work book, or form, them OK, I guess. But if not, then a simple handout would work best, with all the colours, flow symbols and illustrations that would enliven the document.
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