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What is a Placeholder in PowerPoint? [Quick Tutorial!]

What is a Placeholder in PowerPoint? [Quick Tutorial!]

You may not realize this, but every time you open a blank PowerPoint presentation, you will come across placeholders! By default, a PowerPoint file usually shows placeholders on a slide in order to make it easier for the user to add content. So, you may ask, what exactly is a placeholder in PowerPoint!

A placeholder in PowerPoint is a pre-formatted box present on the slide that allows you to easily add content with a click on a button (usually in the middle of the container). You can create a placeholder box for adding text, images, videos, tables, and graphics in PowerPoint.

In this article, we shall understand more about placeholders in PowerPoint, why are they used, and how to add, edit and delete placeholders in PowerPoint!

So, let’s get started!

1. What is a Placeholder in PowerPoint?

In Microsoft PowerPoint, a placeholder is a predesigned slot for different contents like texts, images, and videos on a slide. The preformatted placeholders are available in various designs and layouts.

When you open a new PowerPoint presentation or add a new slide to your presentation, you may have seen often seen a few boxes get added to the slide by default. These boxes also usually contain a few icons in the middle, and a sentence that states “Click to Add Text..”

These are nothing but a type of a placeholder!

Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to edit the placeholders as well. You can format or even create your own placeholder in the “Slide Master” view.

2. What is the Purpose of a Placeholder in PowerPoint?

The main purpose of a placeholder usually is to allow adding of content at a click of a button. Sometimes, new users may find it difficult to add images or videos to PowerPoint. Placeholders make these options really accessible.

Furthermore, if you want to create a custom slide design as a template that basically allows the user to add their own image to the shape, placeholders are needed!

A placeholder allows quick and consistent formatting of the presentation contents throughout all the slides. Microsoft PowerPoint offers placeholders that are already formatted. All you have to do is select a placeholder for your slide and add your content to it.

Using a placeholder in PowerPoint is most useful when creating a standardized presentation design template.

3. How Many Types of Placeholders are there in PowerPoint?

Microsoft PowerPoint offers 8 types of placeholders that can be added to a slide. These include –

  1. Content
  2. Text
  3. Picture
  4. Chart
  5. SmartArt Graphic
  6. Media (video)
  7. Table
  8. Online Image

Using the above 7 types of placeholders, you can quickly add text, tables, charts, graphics, images, videos, icons, 3D models, and online images.

Let’s understand these placeholders in further detail below –

1. Content Placeholder

A content placeholder is a placeholder that can contain text along with one of the eight different pre-formatted features, namely “Insert Table”, “Insert Chart”, “Insert a SmartArt Graphic”, “3D Models”, “Pictures”, “Stock Images”, “Insert Video” and “Insert and Icon”.

A content placeholder basically allows you to insert any one of the 8 different options using just one placeholder box!

2. Text Placeholder

A text placeholder has multiple uses. You can use a text placeholder for titles, captions, paragraphs, etc. You can access a text placeholder by selecting any layout from the “New Slide” dropdown menu.

3. Picture Placeholder

A picture placeholder allows you to add images directly with a click of a button. Furthermore, you can create custom shapes using the merge shape tool in PowerPoint and then add a picture placeholder to it.

This can make your presentation really powerful as it will allow the users to insert their own image in the custom shape.

4. Chart Placeholder

You can use the chart placeholder to signal the user where to add a chart or a graph in PowerPoint. Again, you can insert a chart using just a click of a button.

5. SmartArt Placeholder

The SmartArt placeholder allows you to insert a SmartArt into your slide quickly. We shall take a look at how to use this placeholder later in the article.

6. Media Placeholder

The media placeholder allows you to enable the user to add a video onto the slide. The interesting part is that you can resize this placeholder as per your slide design, and the video will only be added to that part of the slide rather than cover the complete slide!

7. Table Placeholder

Just like the chart placeholder, the table placeholder allows you to insert a table directly on the slide.

8. Online Image Placeholder

The online image placeholder also allows you to add images to the slide. However, it is different from the picture placeholder. The online image placeholder allows you to add images to the slide by using the “online image” feature in the latest version of PowerPoint.

Whereas the picture placeholder only allows you to add the image from the local folder of your computer.

4. How to Add a Placeholder in PowerPoint?

Since the placeholders are usually present on the slide by default, you may be wondering, how does one add these placeholders to a slide in the PowerPoint presentation!

To add a placeholder in PowerPoint, click on the “View” ribbon. Then, click on “Master Slide”. Next, add a slide layout and select the newly added slide layout. Now, from the “Slide Master” ribbon, simply click on “Insert Placeholder”, and add the placeholder to the slide.

To add the placeholders in PowerPoint, we will need to make use of the slide layouts in PowerPoint!

The complete process is described in a step-by-step manner below –

Step 1 – Open the Slide Master

The first step to adding a placeholder in PowerPoint is to open the slide master.

To do that, click on the “View” tab, and then click o the “Slide Master” option.

Step 2 – Insert a Layout

The next step is to insert a new slide layout as we don’t want to change the existing layouts in the presentation.

To insert a new slide layout, under the “Slide Master” ribbon, click on the “Insert Layout” button. This will insert a new slide layout which is visible in the slide preview panel on the left.

Step 3 – Rename the Slide Layout

In the next step, you will want to rename the slide layout so that you can locate it easily when using this layout.

To rename the slide layout, simply click on the “Rename” button in the “Slide Master” ribbon.. You will see a new window pop-up.

Enter an appropriate name that is easy to remember, and press “Rename” to save the name of the layout.

Step 4 – Insert the Placeholders

Now, we need to add the placeholders to this slide layout

To add a placeholder, click on the “Insert Placeholder” button. This should be visible under the “Slide Master” ribbon on the top.

Then, from the dropdown, choose a type of placeholder that you would like to add. Once the placeholder type is selected, simply drag the cursor to create the size of the placeholder on the slide.

Once you are done, simply click anywhere on the slide.

You can repeat this process to add more placeholders.

Step 5 – Exit the Slide Master

The next step is to exit the slide master. To do that, simply click on “Close Master” under the “Slide Master” ribbon.

Step 6 – Use the Custom Layout

The final step of the process is to use the custom layout that we just created. This step is as important as the one where we create the placeholders! Without this step, you may not be able to see the newly added placeholders on the slide.

Simply add a new slide by pressing “Enter“. Then, from the “Home” tab, click on “Layout“. A dropdown with multiple layout options will be presented. Simply click on the newly created layout. You should be able to recognize it by the name of the layout that you chose.

Once the newly created layout is added to the slide, you will be able to see the placeholders that you created to the custom layout!

5. How to Remove “Click to Add Text” from a Placeholder?

When you add a text placeholder, it is not uncommon to see “Click to Add Text” mentioned in the text placeholder even when you haven’t really entered any text at all!

This can be annoying to some. However, you can get rid of this “Click to Add Text” visible in the placeholder by simply adding text in PowerPoint.

Click inside the text box to add some text, and you will notice that the “Click to Add Text” line has disappeared!

6. How to Edit a Placeholder in PowerPoint?

Placeholders in Microsoft PowerPoint are preformatted but editable. As mentioned before, you can add texts, images, charts, etc. in a placeholder.

To edit a content placeholder, simply click on the content icon which you want to edit. In certain cases, you may be able to edit by simply clicking inside the placeholder box.

Let’s take a look at what you may need to do to edit a placeholder –

1. Edit a Text Placeholder

In a text placeholder, you can add texts in the preformatted font style. To edit a text placeholder, follow the 2 quick steps:

Step-1: Click on “Click to add text”

Click on the “Click to add text” option situated at the top in a content placeholder. Now you can type in your preferred text in the placeholder.

Step-2: Change the text style

Next, select the text you typed in and click on the “Home” menu. You can change the font by clicking on the “Font” box and opening a dropdown menu. Similarly, click on the “Font Size” box to change the font size. You can also change the color, orientation, and alignment of the text.

2. Edit a Picture Placeholder

Microsoft Powerpoint allows you to insert pictures in the picture placeholder. To edit the picture placeholder, you can follow 3 simple steps:

Step-1: Click on the “Picture” icon

To add a picture in the placeholder, click on the “Picture” icon located in the second row of the first column. This will open the “File Explorer” window. 

Step-2: Click on the “Insert” button

Find the picture you want to add from the “File Explorer” window and click on it. Next, click on the “Insert” button at the bottom of the window. The placeholder in the slide will be replaced by the picture.

Step-3: Click on “Picture Format”

Now, you can edit the picture you have just inserted in the placeholder. To do that, all you have to do is click on the “Picture Format” menu from the ribbon at the top. In the “Picture Format” menu, select the options you want to edit.

3. Edit a SmartArt Placeholder

A SmartArt placeholder is a special feature of Microsoft PowerPoint which allows you to add engaging infographics in the slide.

To edit a SmartArt placeholder, simply click on the SmartArt Graphic icon from the placeholder, and then add the SmartArt just as you would normally.

Step-1: Click on “SmartArt Graphic Icon” in the Placeholder

The first step is to click on the “Insert a SmartArt Graphic” icon located in the first row of the third column. This will open the “Choose a SmartArt Graphic” dialogue box.

Step-2: Select your preferred SmartArt and Edit it

Scroll through the dialogue box to select your preferred SmartArt. You can click on each SmartArt choice to see a preview on the right side in the dialogue box.

To insert the chosen SmartArt, click on it and then click on the “OK” button.

If you are not sure how to add information to SmartArt, check out my other article that will provide you with all the information that you need to know about SmartArt in PowerPoint!

7. How to Delete a Placeholder in PowerPoint?

Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to completely remove a placeholder from the layout. All you have to do is follow 4 easy steps.

Step-1: Click on “Slide Master”

First, click on the “View” button from the ribbon located at the top of your screen. From the “View” menu, click on the “Slide Master” option under the “Master Views” section.

Step-2: Delete the placeholder from the slide

The next step is to scroll through the slide thumbnail pane and click on the slide layout from which you want to delete a placeholder.

In the selected layout, click on the placeholder you want to remove completely. Then press the “delete” key on the keyboard of your computer.

Alternatively, you can press the “backspace” key on your keyboard. Thus, the placeholder will be deleted.

Step-3: Click on “Close Master View”

Finally, click on the “Close Master View” button which is the last button in the menu.

Once you return back to the normal view, you will notice that the placeholder has been deleted!

8. Difference between Placeholder and Text Box

The main difference between a placeholder and a text box is that a placeholder is a preformatted container that allows you to add any content, while you have to format text in a text box.

You have to insert a text box from the “Insert” menu but the placeholder is already added in a layout.

Furthermore, deleting the entire text usually automatically deletes the text box. However, deleting the contents of a placeholder will not delete the placeholder itself.

These are the key differences between a placeholder and a text box.

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Credit to nakaridore (on Freepik) for the featured image of this article (further edited)