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We see a lot of questions about how to wrap text around a picture or a shape in PowerPoint. And it isn't easy (though we do have articles for PowerPoint 2010 and PowerPoint 2007 that discuss admittedly complicated workarounds to achieve the wrapping effect).
Since it's hard and awkward to do, we see more comments from people who are unhappy about it than from people who say they find it helpful.
But PowerPoint works best when it has less text. A few keywords. Not enough to wrap. This is an issue that we here at the PowerPoint Blog feel passionately about.
If you want to communicate a lot of words, Word is a better bet. So is Publisher. You can create files that people can read at their leisure.
If you want to create a presentation, especially if you're the person presenting it, then fewer words will work so much harder for you, especially if you add a picture, too.
You don't need to put everything on one slide, because people will read the slide and won't be listening to you. (If you want all the information available when you post the deck or send it in email afterward, add it to the Notes section.)
Putting less on a slide and changing slides more often helps keep the audience engaged. Having one or two keywords and a compelling image gets the audience's attention -- they want to find out how those elements relate. So they listen to you. In a presentation, that's a good thing.
I know that no one likes to be told how to use their software. But following a few simple guidelines -- such as those entertainingly illustrated by Doug Thomas in his Office Casual about how to create better presentations, or Microsoft MVP Stephanie Krieger's 12 tips for creating better presentations -- can help you create high-impact presentations without ever wrapping text in PowerPoint again.
-- Erik Jensen
totally agree. thanks for encouraging less text!!!
Great post! As Australia's leading presentation agency we encourage our clients to use visuals to engage their audience and tell their stories.
I'm surprised that you should want to pigeonhole PowerPoint's use. I would have expected PowerPoint evangelists to praise all uses of the tool.
I do agree with your points when PowerPoint is used to make a presentation that a speaker gives.
I do not agree with you when PowerPoint is used to make great looking training materials and every word needs to be on the slide. My company uses Mindflash to host training. Like others training services, a slide deck is the de facto container for the training material. For this use, text wrapping is a missing feature.
@bludogg, very good point about the different uses of PowerPoint and how pictures and shapes play a role in training materials. Thanks for writing in to us about this.
Fine advice for presentations, but traditional slide decks are not the only use for PowerPoint. Many in the scientific community use the software to design posters for presenting at meetings. Changing the page setup is done easily enough, but there is bound to be lots of text in addition to images/objects on a 3' x 4' slide. Not being able to wrap text kills productivity in this case, and publisher is less known/expensive.
I'd love to hear why this functionality has disappeared. Correct me if I'm wrong, but 2003 (for Windows) was able to wrap text. What's changed?
@mvwilcox, thank you for commenting on this post. PowerPoint text boxes, including in PowerPoint 2003, don't offer text wrapping properties. But you can wrap text in Word, and then copy it all onto a PowerPoint slide. Just open Word, type the text and insert your image, then apply your wrapping options to the text. Then, select all and copy it. In PowerPoint, click Edit > Paste Special (as a Word Object).
We also have workaround articles (linked to at the top of this blog post) for how to wrap text directly from within PowerPoint. But frankly, it's a hassle. So using the Word/PowerPoint procedure I just described may be the best option. Our sincere apologies that PowerPoint does not offer a word wrapping feature.
As Mr. Ford said, "You can have any color you want, as long as its black."
Sure, using lots of text on a PowerPoint presentation that's designed to accompany a live presentation isn't a good idea. But what about instance where PowerPoint is used to produce a handout, an online presentation, or a kiosk display? These are all legitimate uses for the program (i.e. ones for which it is marketed) and frankly its extremely disappointing that a function as basic as object wrapping isn't being supported.