Fun with Page Numbers in PowerPoint 2010

When PowerPoint 2007 was released, one of the changes from PPT 2003 was how footers and page numbers are handled. The main difference being that the newer versions allow the page numbers to be modified on the individual slides, where in PPT 2003 they were only editable on the slide master. In some cases the new approach is desirable, but not always – the drawback is that they can now be easily moved or removed accidentally.

In this article we are going to show you how to put a page number on the Slide Master and eliminate the need to put one on each Layout. This will also make them inaccessible locally on the slides, more like it was in PPT 2003, so you can avoid any accidents.

The standard page numbers in PPT 2010 are typically placed on the Slide Master and all of the subsequent Layouts. It is necessary to put a placeholder on each, and they must be formatted identically, and in the same position (or else they will appear to “jump” as you move from slide to slide). This is accomplished by selecting Insert>Header & Footer and checking the Slide Number box. Putting a page number placeholder on the Slide Master does not automatically add one on the Layouts. You can copy and paste them to maintain style and position, etc. or create new ones for each Layout if that is the desired treatment.

Some of our clients didn’t like the new software’s approach to handling page numbers. They found that many of their internal content authors were having trouble keeping them intact We found a different way to approach the page numbers that avoided these troubles – by replacing the page number placeholder on the Slide Master with a simple text box that contains a page number This can be accomplished in one of two ways that we’ll explain below.


An important thing to know before starting this is how to tell a placeholder from a text box. On the Slide Master and Layouts, by default, the placeholders have a dashed border, whereas the text box won’t have a border.

The first method is to go to the Slide Master and Copy your existing page number placeholder, now Paste – Use Destination Theme or Select and Ctrl+Drag. Either way, this will give you a duplicate of the placeholder; only it will not be a placeholder, but a text box with a page number in it. Delete the placeholder and put the new page number where you want it and apply any text formatting you wish (font, color,size, etc.)

The second method is to make a text box, select inside of it, then Insert>Slide Number. Either way has the same end result.

Placing this on the Slide Master has the effect of any other non-placeholder object. It will appear on all Layouts and not be editable locally on the slides. It will function as a true page number in that it will automatically change as you add slides and the sequence can be altered by changing the Number Slides From: in Page Setup.

If there are certain Layouts where you do not want page numbers to appear (e.g. the Title or Divider Slide layouts) you can remove them by using the Format Background>Hide Background Graphics check box. Since most divider/title pages typically have their own custom backgrounds this option is usually selected in any event.

At eSlide we find that having page numbers in your documents is an excellent way to avoid confusion – especially when working remotely with colleagues or clients. It’s much easier to have productive discussions when everyone knows exactly WHICH slide is being discussed. For more PowerPoint tips, check back on our blog, or access our S.E.E. training modules online.






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