A look at the somewhat confusing issue of slide numbers in PowerPoint 2003 and 2007.

PowerPoint 2003: In order for a slide number to automatically appear on all slides in PowerPoint 2003, it must first be set up on the Slide Master. Type View > Master to go to the Slide Master. If the slide number text box is not already in place, type Insert > Slide Number. On the submenu, select Slide Number and then Apply to All. Format and position the slide number text box as you wish on the Slide Master.

The slide number will now automatically appear up on all slides, both title and text. If you don’t want the slide number to appear on an individual slide, go to that slide, type Insert > Slide Number, deselect Slide number on the submenu and click Apply (note: if you click on Apply to All, the slide number will be removed on all slides).

If you follow this procedure, the slide number cannot be directly edited on the slide level. You need to return the the Slide Master if you wish to reformat or reposition the slide number text box.

PowerPoint 2007: Slide numbers are handled differently in PowerPoint 2007. A slide number will appear automatically on all slides if it is first placed on the Slide Master, but there are a few points to consider.

To view the Slide Master in 2007, click on the View tab and then select Slide Master. In the task window on the left side of your PowerPoint desktop, you will see a Slide Master icon followed by a series of linked slide layout icons. To insert a slide number (if it is not already set up by default), right-click on the topmost Slide Master icon, choose Master Layout, select Slide Number and click OK. Format and position the slide number text box as you wish.

There is one more step to take to ensure slide number appear on all slides. To return to the slide level, click on the View tab and select Normal. Now click on the Insert tab and then click on Slide Number. From the submenu, slect Slide number and then Apply to All. The slide number will now appear on all slides except for the Title slide (if you want a slide number on the title slide, you must copy and paste it from another slide).

Note that the slide number is actually editable on each slide in PowerPoint 2007; that is, you can select the slide number, and move it around or delete it right on the slide itself — you don’t need to return to the Slide Master.

Word of caution: if you open a PowerPoint 2007 file into PowerPoint 2003, you will NOT automatically get a slide number on new slides. Remember that for slide numbers to appear automatically in 2003, the slide number needs to be inserted on the master slide as an actual text block. However, if you do so and then take the file back into PowerPoint 2007 it’s possible you could end up with two slide numbers on each slide!

It’s a bit confusing. Just keep in mind that in PowerPoint 2003, slide numbers are physically on the Slide Master — they cannot be edited on the slide level. In PowerPoint 2007, slide numbers are editable text blocks on the slide itself, even though they are controlled by the Slide Master formatting.