PowerPoint: Change bullet indent for all slides

October 7, 2008

One of the things I hate about PowerPoint (even in Office 2007), is that there are no obvious styles you can set up and apply to text. So if your bullet indents aren’t quite as you want them, there’s not a lot you can do.

However, PowerPoint goes some way towards styles in their Master Slide view. It’s not quite the ability to apply styles like in Word, but it’s something.

PowerPoint 2003

To change the bullet indent in PowerPoint 2003:

  1. From the menu, select View > Master > Slide Master.
  2. If you don’t see the ruler at the top of the slide window, select View > Ruler from the menu.
  3. By default, a blank presentation has five indent levels. These levels all have bullets and text indents. The position of these indents correspond to pairs of tab markings on the ruler. In the diagram below, I have used a yellow highlight to show the first level. The first tab mark at the top left of the ruler corresponds to the bullet position.

    PowerPoint Ruler showing tab markers

    PowerPoint Ruler showing tab markers

  4. In your PowerPoint master slide, click and drag the first upper tab marker to the right and see what happens to the bullet for the first level.
  5. Now click and drag the left-most lower tab marker. You can drag it a little to the left, but as you drag it to the right, notice that the other tab markers move too—PowerPoint doesn’t let you have a smaller indent for a lower level than that for a higher level.
  6. Move the various upper and lower tab markers to get the bullet and indent positions you want. If you click and drag the pointing up bit of a lower tab marker, you’ll just move the text indent, whereas if you click and drag the box bit, you’ll move the bullet and text indents at the same time.
    Lower tab marker on ruler
  7. When you’re done, save your changes, then click the Close Master View button.

PowerPoint 2007

To change the bullet indent in PowerPoint 2007:

  1. Select the View tab on the ribbon.
  2. Select the Ruler check box to turn on the ruler.
  3. Click the Slide Master button.
  4. Click the top thumbnail on the left.
  5. Click in the line you want to change the indents for, then move the upper and lower tab markers in the ruler to set that level’s bullet and text indent positions.
  6. When you’re done, save your changes, then click the Close Master View button.


  1. This really Helped! I’m used to Adobe products but because I’m in the corporate word I have to do Powerpoints and Word docs. I like to tweek and finesse type and positions, etc. and this helped a lot!



  2. I’ve tried this, however, when i press the tab key the font is become blank (in back background), please advise how can i resolve this issue.

  3. Hi Jhing

    I’m not sure that I understand what you’re trying to do. These instructions to set the bullet indent have nothing to do with the Tab key, only the tab markers. Can you explain a little more about what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve?


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