Within PowerPoint, typography offers a significant amount of customisation, everything from importing fonts to adjusting kerning. You’ll find a significant portion of text formatting tools under Paragraph.
To access more advanced paragraph settings, first click or highlight within the paragraph you want to edit, then click on the little arrow in the bottom right of the Paragraph section in the Home tab menu to open up the Indents and Spacing window. This window is split into three sections that focus on different paragraph settings to edit.
General Paragraph Settings
The first is called General which focuses on changing the alignment of your text and functions similarly to aligning objects. This dropdown menu offers you mostly the same settings as the alignment buttons in the Home tab: Left, Centred, Right and Justified. It also gives you one extra option – Distributed, which is similar to Justified where it evens out all the line lengths of the paragraph so that they all reach the end of the textbox. However, unlike Justified, it will also apply this to the last line of the paragraph.
Paragraph Indentation Settings
The second section is Indentation, which has the settings to adjust indent spacing of your paragraph. This also includes the indents within bulleted and numbered lists. The first adjustable setting is labelled Before text and, for a basic indent, refers simply to the space between the edge of the textbox and the first word of the line. For a bulleted list, this will affect the space between the textbox and the bullet.
This setting will add and adjust indents for all the lines in the paragraph you have selected. Input your own values into this box or use the up and down arrows to increase/decrease the space incrementally.
To add a different indent for just the first line of the text, you’ll have to use the Special setting to the right of this. Select First Line from the dropdown menu and then add your measurement in the ‘By:’ box beside it. Selecting Hanging instead will adjust every other line except for the first. For bulleted lists, Hanging will affect the space between the bullet and the text.
Paragraph Spacing Settings
The third section is to do with Spacing. This refers more specifically to the spaces between your lines of text in your paragraph (technically named ‘leading’). The Before and After boxes will affect the space inserted before or after the entire paragraph. For bulleted text, this can affect the spacing between each bulleted paragraph. Again, you can input your own values here, or use the up and down arrows to increase or decrease this space.
To specifically adjust the space between the lines of text in paragraph, use the Line Spacing setting to the right. In this dropdown menu, you can select a preset to apply. Like before, the measurements used here are Points. For example, the Single preset equals one point spacing between the lines. 1.5 lines means that the spacing is exactly 1.5 points and Double means 2 point spacing.
To input your own value, select Multiple, and then enter the value in the box beside it. Using the Exactly preset is similar to this, but uses a different measurement that is in ratio to the text size itself. This is similar to how spacing is calculated in other programs such as Adobe Photoshop or InDesign.
On the bottom left of this window is a button for Tab settings. If you are using the Tab button on your keyboard to add indents, you can click on this to adjust the measurements of those indents as well. This will open another window just for Tab settings.
The Default Tab Stop shows you the exact measurement of the default space added when you press the Tab button on your keyboard. You can adjust this measurement by inputting your own value or by using the up and down arrows in the box.
Tab Stop Position shows you the measurement of a particular Tab space you’ve selected. This can be different to the Default tab stop, so feel free to adjust the measurement here too.
At the bottom, you’ll be able to choose where the text after the tabs align; Left, Centre, Right and Decimal. Choosing Decimal will align numbers at a decimal point.
When you’re done, click OK to exit the Tab window and bring you back to the Paragraph window. Click OK again to finish.
Customise Paragraph Indents
There is another tool that can quickly let you customise indents, as well as bullets and numbers, and uses the sliders on your ruler in slide view. Click a paragraph that has an indent or bullet applied to it. You’ll see triangular stops along your ruler matching these indents. Sliding these left and right quickly changes the size of these spaces without having to go through the Paragraph window.
The triangular stop along the top of the ruler will adjust the indentation of the first line. For bulleted lists, this will be the position of the bullet from the edge of the textbox. The triangular stop along the bottom of the ruler adjusts the Hanging of the text, which is every line except the first, or the space between the bullet and the text.
The rectangle stop below it preserves the distance between the triangular stops, so any First line or Hanging indents, but able to indent the entire paragraph. While using these sliders may not be as accurate as inputting numbers in the Paragraph settings window, it is overall a great quick way to adjusting any indents in your paragraphs.
For more ways to help align and properly space your design elements, check out our free grids and guides template. Download it here.