Two ways to get your next PowerPoint presentation under way quickly

Learn two ways to reduce your start up work when creating a new PowerPoint presentation.

Starting a new presentation from scratch is a daunting task. Let PowerPoint do as much of the work as possible. Early on, working in the Outline Pane will help you reduce repetitive tasks. Or, if the text exists in Word format, convert that Word document into slides! Either way, you'll have a quick start on your presentation.

Outline Pane

Use the Outline pane for a quick start. First, open a blank presentation and click the Outline tab, where you'll see a single slide. Click to the right of that slide and enter a name for the slide, which the slide then uses as its title.


Press [Enter] and PowerPoint will add a new slide. Name the slide and continue in this manner until you've added the appropriate number of slides with titles. Using the Outline Pane, you can quickly assemble a skeleton presentation or build each slide as you go.


While working in the Outline Pane, you can use the following keyboard shortcuts to promote and move slides:

  • [Alt]+[Shift]+[Right Arrow] turns the current slide into a bullet point for the previous slide.
  • [Alt]+[Shift]+[Up Arrow] moves the current slide or bullet point up one slide.
  • [Alt]+[Shift]+[Down Arrow] moves the current slide or bullet point down one slide.
  • [Alt]+[Shift]+[Left Arrow] turns the current bullet point into a slide.

Using these shortcuts in the Outline Pane, you can work more efficiently as you add new slides to a presentation.

Convert Word document

If the text you're presenting already exists in a Word document, don't copy and reformat, don't recreate -convert. Now, let's run through this technique in PowerPoint 2010:

  1. If the Word document that contains your presentation text is open, close it.
  2. Open a new PowerPoint presentation.
  3. In PowerPoint, click the Home tab, click the New Slides dropdown, and choose Slides From Outline.
  4. In the resulting dialog, locate and open the Word document that contains your presentation text.


If you're still using 2003, open the Word document and choose Send To from the File menu. Then, choose Microsoft Office PowerPoint. Doing so will launch PowerPoint and copy the document's text to slides.

Without the appropriate planning and setup, there's no guarantee that this conversion trick will work as expected. That's because this technique relies on your use of Word's built-in heading styles:

  • PowerPoint converts Heading 1 text into slide titles.
  • PowerPoint converts Heading 2 text into bullet points.
  • PowerPoint converts Heading 3, Heading 4, and Heading 5 into subsequent bullet points, accordingly.
  • If the Word document doesn't use the built-in heading styles, PowerPoint will position each paragraph on a slide.

If you want an idea of how the text will convert, view the Word document in Outline view by clicking the View tab and then choosing Outline from the Document Views group. The pane to the left will display the styles, so it's easy to see with a quick glance which elements PowerPoint will convert. This way you can alter styles before converting, if necessary. If the results aren't what you want, simply return to the Word document, modify the style application, and try again. Most likely, the results will need a bit of tweaking regardless, but it's quicker to adjust the results than to begin from scratch. Download the example Word Doc.



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.

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