PowerPoint Secrets – Scaling Text

SecretsObjects containing lines, text, shadows and other characteristics measured in points do not scale as expected when you change the size of the object (using the “handles” or the Size and Position panel). This picture demonstrates the result of scaling such an object:


The size of the text, the width of the outline and characteristics of the shadow do not change as the object is scaled to 50% and 10% of its original size.

I have pointed out this issue in earlier posts (like this one) and suggested that the easiest workaround to this issue is to convert (Copy and Paste Special) the object to png format to get proper scaling.

But, it turns out that there is a way to scale text when objects are made smaller (almost). If you check Shrink text on overflow and uncheck Wrap text in shape in the Format Picture/Text Box pane, the text in an object will change (point) size when the text box (or other object containing text) is made smaller. Here’s what the settings look like:


As an experiment, I created a text box with these settings and shrank it to 10% of its original size in 10% increments. Here’s the result:

scaling 2

“Point size” is the size of the text after the change in size of the text box has been changed to the “relative size” indicated. The bottom row shows png versions of the text box changed to the same relative size.

Whoops! Wouldn’t you expect the 60 pt character to be 54 pt at 90% reduction? Thirty pt at 50%? Six pt at 10% rather than 15 pts? Compare to the png version to see something ain’t right.

I suspect that the actual size of the text box, the margin settings and who knows what else are involved in the text “shrinking” process. I might be able to figure this out but I’m bored with this subject.

Conclusion: the settings discussed above will work sometimes when shrinking objects; conversion to png will always result in properly scaled text (as well as lines, shadows, etc.). Remember to save the original PowerPoint object when you convert to png.

By the way, you should never use Shrink text on overflow in other situations. If your text boxes are overflowing, the last thing you need is smaller text. Rather, edit the text to about two-thirds the number of words. Then eliminate half of those.  Set the text size to a minimum of 18 (20 for some fonts) points. Remember, you deliver the message, not PowerPoint.

2 Responses to “PowerPoint Secrets – Scaling Text”

  1. 1 ho May 22, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Why you can see big white characters are flat on screen, while you print them in black and white, they get shadows?????

    • 2 pptcrafter May 22, 2014 at 9:53 am

      I’m not sure if this will help, but: with white text on a black fill, a (black) text shadow will not be visible. When you look at it in black and white view (“automatic”), the fill is changed to white so that the shadow is visible.

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