The 10 Most Common PowerPoint Terms

Whether you're new to PowerPoint or need a quick refresher, here's a list of the 10 most common PowerPoint terms. Knowing these can make using the program easier and help you create your very best presentations.

Information in this article applies to PowerPoint 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; PowerPoint for Microsoft 365, PowerPoint for Mac, and PowerPoint Online.

Slide and Slideshow

Think back to the days of the old-fashioned slideshow that used a slide projector. PowerPoint produces an updated version of sorts. Slideshows can comprise text and graphics or be completely covered by a single picture, as in a photo album.

Each page of a PowerPoint presentation is called a slide. The default orientation of the slide is landscape. You can change the slide orientation and the slide size. Add text, graphics, and pictures to the slide to enhance its appeal and illustrate your point.

Bullet or Bulleted List

Bullets are small dots, squares, dashes, or graphic objects that begin a short descriptive phrase. Almost every slide type in PowerPoint contains a placeholder text box for a bulleted list. You'll use these bulleted list text boxes to enter key points or statements about your topic. When creating the list, press Enter to add a new bullet for the next point you want to add.

Design Template

Think of a design template as a coordinated package deal. When you decorate a room, you use colors and patterns that work together. A design template acts in much the same way. Even though different slide types can have different layouts and graphics, the design template ties the whole presentation together in an attractive package.

Slide Layouts and Slide Types

The terms slide type and slide layout are used interchangeably. PowerPoint has a few types of slide layouts. Depending on the type of presentation you are creating, you may use several different slide layouts or just keep repeating the same few.

Slide types/layouts include, for example:

  • Title slides
  • Section heading slides
  • Picture with caption slides
  • Content slides for adding charts, pictures, and tables
  • Blank slides

Slide Views

There are several ways to view slides and slideshows. These views are:

  • Normal view: Also commonly known as slide view. It is the main working window in the presentation. The slide is shown at its full size on the screen.
  • Outline view: Shows all the text of all slides, in a list on the left of the PowerPoint screen. No graphics display in this view. Outline view is useful for editing and can be exported as a Word document to use as a summary handout.
  • Slide Sorter view: Displays thumbnail versions of all your slides, arranged in horizontal rows. This view is useful for making global changes to several slides at one time. Rearranging or deleting slides is easy to do in slide sorter view.
  • Notes Page view: Shows a smaller version of a slide with an area underneath for notes. Each slide is created on its own notes page. Print these pages to use as a reference while making the presentation. The notes do not show on the screen during the presentation.

Task Pane

Located on the right side of the screen, the task pane changes to show options that are available for the current task that you are working on. For example, when changing the background for a slide, the Format Background task pane appears; when adding animations, you'll set animation options in the Animation pane.


Slide transitions are the visual effects that appear as one slide changes to another. PowerPoint offers several different transitions, such as fade and dissolve.

Animations and Animation Schemes

In Microsoft PowerPoint, animations are visual effects applied to individual items such as graphics, titles, or bullet points, rather than to the slide itself. Apply preset visual effects to paragraphs, bulleted items, and titles from a variety of animation groupings.

PowerPoint Online

PowerPoint Online is the web version of PowerPoint. It allows a PowerPoint presentation to be played on any computer, even one that doesn't have PowerPoint installed. To use PowerPoint Online, you'll need a Microsoft account or an Microsoft 365 work or school account. To view a presentation in a web browser, save the presentation to OneDrive or Dropbox and open it in PowerPoint Online.

Slide Master

The default design template when starting a PowerPoint presentation is a plain, white slide. When you want to design your own template, use the Slide Master. After you update the Slide Master with your design choices, all the slides in your presentation will use the fonts, colors, and graphics in the Slide Master. Each new slide that you create takes on these aspects.

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