If you used PowerPoint 2003 and recently upgraded to PowerPoint 2007, you probably noticed a significant change in how PowerPoint 2007 handles the line spacing of text within your slides. Line spacing in PowerPoint 2007 and Word 2007 are now almost exactly the same. Microsoft obviously wanted to create a unified approach to line spacing across its Microsoft Office suite. However, the simple and straightforward approach in previous versions of PowerPoint is now a little more tricky.
PowerPoint should not be treated like a word processor, and the new options – while ideal for Word documents — are overkill for presentation slides. In this article, I’ll show you how to achieve the same line spacing results in PowerPoint 2007 that you had in earlier versions of the presentation software.
Why is line spacing important?
Line spacing is important in PowerPoint because you want to make sure that your audience can easily read the copy on your slides. If your bullet points or other text are not adequately spaced out, they may be more difficult to read. There are two important considerations for line spacing: spacing within a paragraph or bullet point (each bullet point is treated as a separate paragraph in PowerPoint) and spacing between paragraphs or bullet points.
If your bullet points are fairly short (i.e., only one line per bullet point) then you only adjust the spacing between paragraphs or bullet points (i.e., spacing before or after a paragraph). The challenge comes when your bullet points are longer (i.e., more than one line per bullet point), and you need to adjust the line spacing within a paragraph as well as the spacing between paragraphs. In cases where you’re using multi-line bullet points, you want to reduce the line spacing within paragraphs or bullet points so that your audience can more easily separate or distinguish the different bullet points on your slides (compare examples B & C in the diagram above).
As you can see in the side-by-side comparison of the line spacing windows, PowerPoint 2003 keeps it simple and straightforward by enabling you to edit spacing in terms of “lines”. In PowerPoint 2007, you alter the spacing between and within paragraphs primarily in terms of “points”. When you leverage the “Exactly” option to reduce the line spacing within a paragraph, you decrease the line point size (i.e., leading) so it is smaller than the line’s font size.
Another method, which resembles the old way in PowerPoint 2003, is to select the “Multiple” option and make the value less than one “line” (typically 0.8-0.9). This latter method is my preferred approach as it is familiar and easy.