Easily change PowerPoint's default bullets

Bullets are easy to insert in all Office applications, but the default bullet might not make the right impression in a PowerPoint presentation. Change bullets quickly and easily.

Bullets are everywhere and rightly so -- a bulleted list is an efficient way to emphasize information in a meaningful way. If you're a regular reader, you know that I use them often. You can also use them in a PowerPoint slide. In fact, that's the default structure. Whether they work well in the presentation environment is up for debate, but PowerPoint makes them easy to use.

The default bullets are okay, but they might not be just right for every presentation because they're ... mundane. Depending on your subject and your audience, you might prefer something else. You might choose a dingbat that represents the subject or your business. Or you might just want to drop in a colorful graphic that doesn't represent a thing, but brightens up the slide. As always, with PowerPoint, your subject and audience will determine your choices. In other words, don't use a yellow smiley face to list the attributes of eternal internment at Shady Acres.

The good news is that you can change PowerPoint's bullets quickly:

  1. Display the slide you want to change in Normal View.
  2. Highlight the bulleted items you want to change. Usually, that will be the entire list, but I want to point out that you can change the bullets for individual items within a larger list.
  3. Select Bullets And Numbering from the Format menu. Or right-click the selection and choose Bullets And Numbering from the resulting context menu. If necessary, click the Bulleted tab. In PowerPoint 2007, the menu separates Bullets and Numbering. Click the Bullets drop-down list and then click Bullets And Numbering (at the bottom). You'll also find Bullets in the Paragraph group on the Home tab.
  4. From the Bulleted tab, simply select a different bullet. PowerPoint is flexible with bullets:

  • You can change the color and size from the Bulleted tab.
  • Click Picture to choose from a large variety of sizes and shapes.
  • Click Customize to substitute bullets with symbols. Change the Font setting to review hundreds of possibilities.




After making your selections, click OK (once or twice, depending on which set you choose). You can change bullets in all Office applications and the instructions will be very similar to those for PowerPoint.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


How can I set a bullet to appear one at a time using the same animation effect.


The post describes how to change the bullet definitions. I need more. I want to have my new bullet definitions display in the set of bullets that appears when you select the pull down menu. I changed the Master page bullet items. But I cannot use my definitions on slides. I have to redefine the bullet style on every style. Anyone know how to set the bullet definitions so they can be reused throughout the document? I also have some tab problems with the default bullets. On some pages the default bullet will show with no space after it, on others the bullets are spaced differently from each other. Anyone know how to set the tabs used on bullets?

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