How to Increase List Levels on PowerPoint

By Elizabeth Mott

Some bulleted text omits the hanging indent that aligns lines after the bullet character.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

Microsoft PowerPoint uses list features that you'll find familiar from working in Microsoft Word. These formatting options produce text organized in the same ways you format an outline while structuring a business plan or meeting agenda for your company. Main-level points appear with the smallest indent from the left margin of your text, with subsidiary levels of discussion carrying larger indents to show their position in the hierarchy. When you increase list levels, you help organize your PowerPoint text for greater clarity.

Apply bulleting or numbering to your text if you haven't already done so. Select the text you want to turn into a list. Switch to the Home tab of the Microsoft PowerPoint ribbon and locate the Paragraph group. Within it, click on either the Bullets or the Numbering button, both unlabeled, and choose "Bullets and Numbering" to open the dialog box of same name. Select either the "Bulleted" or the "Numbered" tab and choose a style. Click on the "OK" button to apply your list feature.

Click on the line of text you want to make subordinate to the bulleted or numbered point above it. Switch to the Home tab of the Microsoft PowerPoint ribbon and locate the Paragraph group. Click on the unlabeled Increase List Level button. PowerPoint enlarges the size of the indent applied to the line of text and reduces the type size.

Click on the the Increase List Level button again to apply a larger indent. To reduce the indent, click on the unlabeled Decrease List Level button next to the Increase List Level button.

Switch to the View tab of the ribbon and locate its Show group. Click on the check box for "Ruler" so you can see the indent markers that apply to list-level text. The triangular first line indent marker points down from the top of the ruler and appears at the horizontal position defined by the left edge of the bullet or number applied to your list item. The square left indent marker appears at the bottom of the ruler at the position of the indent after the bullet or number. The triangular hanging indent marker points down from the top of the left indent marker, indicating the position – after a bullet or number and its accompanying tag – at which text wraps on the second and successive lines of text.


On text with no indents, all three indent markers appear at the same position.

Drag the left indent marker to adjust all the markers together and preserve the distances among them, increasing the overall indent without changing the distance between bullet or number and the text to which it applies.

When you use the customization options in the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, you can substitute virtually any character in a typeface for the bullet or number on your list points, and switch them to SmartArt for even more flexibility.


If you copy bulleted or numbered text to the clipboard and paste it into another application outside the Microsoft Office suite, its bullets or numbers won't appear in the pasted text.