Creating PowerPoint presentations from Word outlines

Applies to:
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003
Microsoft PowerPoint® 2002 and 2000
Microsoft Office Word 2003

In this article

Before we begin

All examples and ideas illustrated within this article were created using Office Word 2003 and Office PowerPoint 2003, both Microsoft Office 2003 programs. The techniques should work similarly for the last two versions of both programs — but they haven't been tested by me. Having said that, let us proceed with the rest of this article.

Getting started

Word often acts as a storyboard in the foundation stage of a concept. It is quite normal to find people creating plans and jotting inspirations in Word to form outlines which can be refined and fine-tuned to be used later as content for brochures, press releases, and presentations. In this article, we will discuss ideas that help create complete presentations within PowerPoint from suitable Word content.

Microsoft provides an easy way to create PowerPoint presentations from Word documents as long as you have both programs installed on the same computer. On the Word File menu, point to Send To and click Microsoft Office PowerPoint. This opens up PowerPoint with a basic presentation that contains text elements contained within the Word document. If you just tried this procedure using a Word document you already have, you might be quite unhappy with the results. That is because PowerPoint accepts only a distinct style of formatting within a Word document — such formatting is automatically converted to PowerPoint titles, text, and bulleted items.

Top of Page Top of Page

An exercise

Let us create a sample Word outline to illustrate the point.

Open Word and type the following:

Slide 1

Line 1

Line 2

Line 3

Save the document, and on the File menu point to Send To and click Microsoft Office PowerPoint. PowerPoint will open in the background and present you with at least four slides with titles that match our four lines — that is not what we required!

The correct way

  1. Close PowerPoint and get back to the Word document.
  2. Select the first line that contains the words Slide 1.
  3. In the Style list on the Formatting toolbar, click Heading 1 (or click Heading 1 in the Styles and Formatting task pane).

If the Formatting toolbar is not visible, on the View menu, point to Toolbars, and then click Formatting.

  1. Similarly, select the remaining three lines and click the Heading 2 style in the Style list.
  2. Save your Word document.
  3. On the File menu, point to Send To, and then click Microsoft Office PowerPoint.

If you followed all the steps correctly, you will find that PowerPoint has created a single slide presentation with one title and three bullets in the text area — exactly like a conventional presentation!

You can create multiple titles and bullets in Word using the Heading 1 and Heading 2 styles respectively, for all your content. This in turn will translate into multiple slides within a PowerPoint presentation.

Top of Page Top of Page

More options

We just learned that the Word to PowerPoint conversion converts Word styles into PowerPoint elements. The Heading 1 style translates into the Title Text designation in PowerPoint. Similarly, the Heading 2 style changes into bullet one.


Heading 3 becomes bullet two (a sub-bullet).

Heading 4 becomes bullet three (a sub-bullet of a sub-bullet) and so on.


Any text in your Word document (with styles applied) which is set with the Normal style will not import into PowerPoint.

A quick way to change Word formatting is to apply the Heading 2 style to an entire document. Thereafter, apply the Heading 1 style to whichever part of the document you want designated as a Title Text within PowerPoint.

If you use PowerPoint 2000, you will find more information in this Microsoft Knowledge Base article: PPT2000: Importing Word for Windows Document into PowerPoint.


Presentations created with Word outlines are basic in nature, containing plain text content using a default font style in black over a white background slide. It would be a very rare occasion when you would want to display your presentation in such a bare state.

The easiest way to provide a sophisticated look to such a presentation would be to:

You will find several links to PowerPoint templates you can download or buy online at the Ppted Web site and at Indezine: The PowerPoint Ezine.

Top of Page Top of Page

Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003, Word 2003, PowerPoint 2002, PowerPoint 2000