Adding slide numbers in PowerPoint should be an easy and straightforward task, but it is not. The way that PowerPoint manages your slide numbers (or page numbers), is confusing. That is why it is easy to get frustrated with them when you are first starting out in PowerPoint.
The last thing you want to do – and I have done this before myself – is to get so frustrated with PowerPoint that you manually add the page numbers to your slides yourself.
Manually adding slide numbers is a classic 101 timewaster that you will instantly regret for two reasons.
The first reason is, manually doing anything in PowerPoint that PowerPoint can automatically do for you (even if it requires a little research), is never an effective use of your time. If you want to have a life outside of the office slaving away in PowerPoint, you will want to push as many of these types of tasks as possible back on to PowerPoint.
The second reason is, after you manually add your slide numbers in PowerPoint, you will have to manually update them again as you add or remove slides from your presentation. If you thought it was tedious to manually add the slide numbers in the first place, believe me when I say that it is ten times as tedious to have to manually update them again, and triple-check that all your slides are numbered correctly.
Follow along with me below and see the advanced trouble shooting video at the bottom of the page if you are still having issues.
NOTE: If you are printing your PowerPoint slides as handouts, please note that it is the slide number (not the page number) that shows for each page of notes you print. To see how this works and learn how to add speaker notes in PowerPoint, read our guide here.
How to add slide numbers to PowerPoint
Adding slide numbers in PowerPoint is one of those things that should be simple and easy (like it is in Microsoft Word) …but it’s not. And just so we are on the same page, in this article you can use the term slide number and page number interchangeably. They are the same thing in this case.
While a lot of people can “properly” add them to the PowerPoint Slide Master, they still can’t get them to properly show up in the Normal View. And if you work in the professional services industry, this is something you’ll want to get right! The last thing you want to do is torpedo the overall quality of your presentation simply because you can’t get your slides properly numbered.
So, before you mark your presentation as final or convert your presentation into the PDF file format (click here for details), follow the steps below.
1. Navigate to your Slide Master
In all versions of Microsoft PowerPoint, the slide numbers (or page numbers) for your presentation are driven from the Slide Master View. As such, this is one of the best places to check first if you are having trouble adding slide numbers in PowerPoint, or if your slide numbers are not properly displaying.
To navigate to the Slide Master view in PowerPoint, simply:
- Navigate to the View tab in your Ribbon
- Select the Slide Master command
If you frequently need to use your Slide Master, you can use the Shift + Normal icon shortcut to jump to the slide master. For help with this shortcut, see top PowerPoint shortcut #1 in our PowerPoint shortcuts guide here.
2. Navigate to the Parent Slide (the big slide)
In the Slide Master view, navigate to the Parent slide on the top left. This will be the first and largest the slide listed on the left side of your screen.
3. Open the Master Layout dialog box
To open the Master Layout dialog box in PowerPoint, simply:
- Navigate to the Slide Master tab in your Ribbon
- Click Master Layout to open the dialog box
The Master Layout dialog box is where you set the Title, Text, Date, Slide number, and Footer for your PowerPoint presentation. To expand your knowledge and learn how to create a template in PowerPoint, read our guide here.
NOTE: PowerPoint is a contextual program, in that it only displays tabs for the views you are in, or the objects you have selected. If you do not see the Slide Master tab in the ribbon, that means that you have not properly navigated to your Slide Master yet. See step #1 above.
4. Select the Slide Number in the Master Layout dialog box
In the Master Layout dialog box, make sure you have a check mark next to Slide number. Selecting this option adds the slide number object to the Parent Slide, that you can then use to automatically add and update all the slides numbers in your presentation (instead of manually adding them yourself).
You can additionally add the Title, Text, Date and/or Footer objects if you don’t already have them on your Parent Slide. These are the fields you will want to set up and properly format if you are building a PowerPoint template for your team or company. For helpful topics related to creating a PowerPoint template, read our guide here.
After you select which elements you want to appear on your slides, click OK.
5. Place and format your Slide Number
With the slide number added to your Master Slide, you can now format and/or place it wherever you want. In this case, I’ve placed mine in the upper right-hand corner of my slide.
Where you place it on your Parent Slide determines where the numbers show up (by default) on all of your Child Slides. In the below picture, you can see I placed my slide number in the upper right hand corner of my slide.
Note: By default, your slide numbers populate to all the Child Slides (the little slides in the Slide Master view) in your presentation. If they do not, you will need to cycle through the Child Slide layouts and delete the old page numbers individually, and then click the Footers icon in the Ribbon to add them back (another area where slide numbers in PowerPoint can be a pain).
To learn more about setting up and formatting the Parent Slide versus the Child Slide layouts for your PowerPoint template, read our guide here.
6. Close out of the Slide Master view
Before you exit out of the Slide Master view, I recommend double-checking that your slide numbers are properly set up both on the Parent Slide, and all the individual Child Slides. If you accidentally missed one, now is the time to catch it.
Once you are sure the slide numbers are all where they are supposed to be, you can click out of the Slide Master View:
- Slide Master tab
- Close Master View
7. Open the Slide Number dialog box
Now that you have setup (or double-checked) that your slide numbers are set up properly in the Slide Master view, now we can add them here in the Normal View of PowerPoint (woo-hoo). Let’s start by opening the Header and Footer dialog box as follows:
- Navigate to the Insert tab
- Select the Slide Number command
You can alternatively use the Alt + Shift + D keyboard shortcut to open the Header and Footer dialog box. If you want to learn additional PowerPoint shortcuts like this that will save you time, read our shortcuts guide here.
Regardless of how you get to the Header and Footer dialog box, this is the best and proper place to add, remove, and/or manage your presentations:
- Date and time
- Slide numbers
The goal again is to get PowerPoint to do the heavy lifting for you here. Even if this dialog box is new and a little confusing to you, it is worth getting this right as it will save you a ton of time in the future.
8. Apply your Slide Number
Within the Header and Footer dialog box, make sure there is a checkmark next to the Slide number.
With it selected, you get a preview of where your slide numbers will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the dialog box. After that, select either:
- Apply, applies your slide number to the individual slide you are working on.
- Apply to All, applies slide numbers to all of the slides within your presentation (assuming that each of the Child Slide layouts has your slid number on it).
Assuming you want to add slide numbers to all your slides in PowerPoint, click Apply to All. Clicking Apply to All, PowerPoint automatically adds the slide numbers to all your slides, based on the formatting and positioning you set up on the slide master.
As you can see in the picture below, all my slides now have page numbers on them (exactly where I placed them on my Slide Master).
Note: In the lower left-hand corner of the Header and Footer dialog box, you have the option to Don’t show on title slide. This tells PowerPoint what you don’t want to see on your title slide.
This is a great option when you want the cover slide of your presentation to be less cluttered and clean. Just be aware that what you and PowerPoint consider your title slide might be different.
For example, most professionals I train believe that whatever slide layout has the word “title” in its name, is what PowerPoint considers the title slide (which is not true). PowerPoint uses a much more basic rule for determining your title slide. To PowerPoint, your title slide is simply the first Child Slide layout on your Slide Master. Whether that is your title slide or not.
Where this title slide issue messes people up, is when they accidentally rearrange one of their content slides into the first position in the Slide Master View. The result is, PowerPoint considers that content slide as the title slide, and then does not display page numbers on it, anywhere within the presentation.
Troubleshooting slide numbers in PowerPoint
If you followed along with me above and you still can’t get your slide numbers to properly display in PowerPoint, I have you covered.
In the following video, I highlight a few extra steps you can take to make sure your page numbers show up in PowerPoint.
If you still can’t figure out what is happening with your slide numbers, leave a comment or send me a note and I will do my best to help you out.
You did the right thing by looking up how to add slide numbers in PowerPoint. The worst possible thing you can do is get so fed up with the PowerPoint page numbering system, that you manually add them yourself.
Another good point to remember is that you can use the Header and Footer dialog box to quickly remove all the slide numbers from your presentation. Simply unselect the Slide number option and click Apply to All and PowerPoint will automatically remove them all from your presentation.
While we all wish that adding page numbers in PowerPoint was as easy as it is in Word, that’s why you are paid the big PowerPoint bucks.
If you enjoyed this slide number tutorial and want to take your PowerPoint skills to the next level, check out our online training courses and other PowerPoint tutorials here.