Developer Tools: The Text Box

The Text Box is one of the most useful tools on the Developer Tool ribbon. It can help you incorporate your students’ ideas into your PowerPoint. But where can we find it and how can we use it?

The first thing we need to do is show the Developer Ribbon. This is usually not shown as default, so we need to select it from the options menu.

Developer Tools
Screen capture of the Developer Ribbon – PowerPoint 2013

To show the Developer Ribbon, go to file and select options. Select customize ribbon and a dialog appears with two lists. Look at the right-hand list and you will see an unchecked box called developer. Check that box and click OK and the developer ribbon will now appear after the view ribbon.

On the developer ribbon there is a small box with ab inside it. Click on that icon and draw your text box anywhere on the screen.

Note: You will only be able to edit the text box when you run the presentation. If you double-click on it, the VBA editor will appear.

The next thing you need to do is adjust the properties of the text box.

Text box Properties
Text Box (ActiveX control) properties dialog – PowerPoint 2013

There are several properties that you can adjust. The most useful are:

EnterKeyBehaviour – Change from false to true to use the enter key go to the next line.

Font – Select the font to change the size, style and font of the text.

MultiLine – Change from false to true to have the text on multiple lines rather than a single continuous line.

ScrollBars – Select whether you want a scroll bar to appear when the text goes beyond the borders of the text box.

TabKeyBehaviour – Change from false to true to use the tab key to create a gap between words.

WordWrap – Change from false to true to keep the text within the borders of the text box. (Horizontally)

Once you have created one text box and selected your preferences, it can be easily copied, pasted and modified to fit any presentation or slide.

I hope that helps.

Take care!

6 thoughts on “Developer Tools: The Text Box

    1. Hi Katrina! I’m glad you’ve found it useful. 😀

      The speech bubble is actually a different object. Go to insert, select shapes and select one of the callouts (speech bubbles) at the bottom of the list. Change the fill color to white and then move your text box (activeX control) on top of it.

      You probably still have a border of your text box, right? Select the text box and then click on properties in the developer tool bar. Go down the list until you find SpecialEffects. Change it from 2 to 0 – fmSpecialEffectFlat. That will remove the border. Select both objects (the speech bubble and the text box) and move them wherever you want to place them on the slide.

      You don’t need to do this again, just copy and paste. I hope this helps.

      Thanks for reading and take care!


  1. is there any way to have these live text boxes hidden until you click on a selected part of the screen. For example, with a background scene, could you set a writing box to appear if a tree is clicked on, so you can ask a student to click on the tree and then write a comment about it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Glynn,

      I was thinking something similar when I originally wrote the post but it seems that animations can’t be applied to these kinds of text boxes and even if you cover them with another object they will still be shown during the presentation.

      The only way to get around it would be have a menu screen with all your images and when you click on the image you want, you would go to a new slide with an identical image with the text boxes there.

      Select an object or picture, go to insert and select action, select hyperlink and choose slide. Select the slide you want to move to and click OK. Now whenever that image is click on, you will go to a new slide with the same image that can be labelled.

      I hope that helps!

      Take care 🙂


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