Troubleshooting PowerPoint Slide Numbering: Common Slide numbering issues and how to fix them


Are you trying to add slide numbers and Slide Totals to your slides using the PPT Productivity Manage Slide Number feature but encounter an error message?  PPT Productivity created the Manage Slide Numbering feature so that you can customize how slide numbers appear on your page – you can add slide totals or a slide count to each slide and add wording eg Slide 1 of 20. 

This help guide steps through troubleshooting options to fix situations where the slide numbers do not appear on one or more slides.  This includes the following scenarios:

  • Slide numbering placeholder in the Slide Master layout needs to be reset
  • The Slide numbering placeholder needs to be reset and your presentation has multiple Slide Master layouts
  • Your presentation uses the Title Slide layout for content slides as well as the Title slide and does not display slide numbers
  • Slide numbering on one or more slides is obscured by pictures or shapes

Here is an example of the error message you likely encountered.

Image shows the PPT Productivity error message that displays if your template has slide number placeholder issues

Fixing placeholders on the Slide Master layout

The first thing to check is your Slide Master.  The slide numbering placeholder needs to be activated on your Slide Master layout.  Any previous updates to your presentation or template may have ‘deactivated’ the placeholder for one or more of the layouts in your presentation.

To do this:

1. From the View tab of the PowerPoint ribbon, select Slide Master.
2. From the thumbnail view, select the Master Slide Layout.  The Master Slide Layout is the slide at the top of the selection and is also called the Parent layout.  The other layouts beneath this Master Slide layout are called Child layouts.  It’s important to update the slide numbering placeholder on the Master layout, because the Child layouts will inherit the update (unless you separately change a specific child layout).  Note that your presentation should ideally have only one Master slide (Parent) parent layout and multiple child layouts linked to it.

3. While you have the Master Slide Layout selected, click on Master Layout from the top ribbon in Slide Master view

4. The Master layout menu will now appear.

5. If the slide number check box is unchecked, check this box now. You can also check the footer check box at this point if required

6. The slide number and footer placeholder should now appear at the bottom of your Master slide

7. Now review the rest of the child slide layouts to ensure that the slide number placeholder has been activated. To do this, navigate through each slide in thumbnail view to find any slides where the slide number placeholder is missing

8. If you discover a Slide Layout which does not show the placeholder, uncheck and then recheck the ‘Footer’ check box found on the top ribbon in Slide Master view

9. Unchecking then rechecking the Footer check box is a ‘reactivation’.  It will refresh the Slide Layout.  The Slide Number placeholder will now appear on the bottom of the Slide Layout.

10. Continue reviewing the layouts to make sure that all Slide Layouts display the footer and slide number placeholders.  If you find any additional Slide layouts which are missing the placeholders, simply repeat step 8 to correct them.
11. Now, try applying the PPT Productivity slide numbering feature again. You should no longer encounter the error message.

If you are still unable to see your slide numbers, it could be caused by several different issues. Below are some ways to troubleshoot.

Managing Presentations with multiple Slide Master Layouts

A slide layout is applied to every slide in a PowerPoint presentation. If slides have been copied from another presentation or different themes have been applied, extra layouts (or even masters) may have been added to your presentation.  These can impact the slide numbering placeholder which also impacts your ability to use the PPT Productivity slide numbering feature.  We recommend that you work with a single Master (Parent) slide layout in your presentation.

To ensure the desired layouts are applied to your slides:

  1. In Slide Sorter View, Ctrl-click each slide that should be using the same layout (i.e., the ones that have the slide number placeholders).
  2. From the ‘Layout’ drop down on the PPT Productivity ribbon select the desired layout

3. All slides selected will have the selected slide layout applied.
4. Continue with any other slides that require the slide layout to be updated.

Presentations using the Title Slide layout for one or more content slides

Users often turn off the slide numbering placeholder on the Title Slide layout so that you do not display a slide number on the title page.  However – if you have used the Title Slide layout for other slides in the content of your presentation, this slide will also not display the slide number.  To solve this – you can either update your preferences to include numbering on title slides, or you can change the slide layout used for the content slide(s) currently using the Title layout.

There are 2 ways to find out whether slide numbering has been disabled on Title Slide Layouts.

Option One: Using the Slide Number and Slide Totals PPT Productivity feature

  1. From the PPT Productivity tab or the Insert tab on the ribbon, select the ‘Slide number and Slide Total’ icon

2. The PPT Productivity ‘Slide Numbers and Totals’ dialogue box will open.

3. If ‘Show on Title Slides’ is unchecked, slide numbering will not appear on any slides with the Slide Title layout applied. To have slide number appear on these slides, check the box and click ‘Apply All’
4. Slide numbering with totals will now appear, in your chosen format to your Title Slides.

Option Two: Using the Slide Number feature from the Insert tab

An alternate method to ensure slide numbering is applied to Title Slide layouts is from the Insert Tab.

  1. From the Insert tab on the ribbon, select ‘Slide Number’.

2. The Header and Footer dialogue box will open. If the ‘Don’t show on title slide’ box is checked, the slide number will not appear on any slide with the Slide Title Layout applied.

3. If you want to use the Title slide layout on content slides and display slide numbering, uncheck ‘Don’t show on title slide’.  The slide numbering will now appear on all slides with Title Slide layout applied.

Alternative solution: Update your slide layout for content slides using the Title slide layout

The alternative way to solve this is to update the content slide(s) in the body of your presentation that use the Title slide layout.  To change the slide layout for the content slides currently using the Title layout slide:

1. Navigate to the relevant slide in your presentation.
2. From the thumbnail view beside the slide, hover over the relevant slide thumbnail, right click your mouse and select layout.  The current layout will be ‘Title Slide’. 
3. Select an alternate layout given the content of your slides – for example a Title Slide Only or Blank Slide layout may be the most appropriate.
4. Review your slide once you have made this change to correct any formatting.

Changing your slide layout should solve your missing numbering for this and any other content slides that originally used the Title Slide layout.  If the numbering is still not appearing for the updated slides, please refer back to the Fixing placeholders on the Slide Master layout section above.

Is a picture or shape covering the slide number placeholder?

Another possible cause for slide numbers not displaying correctly is where a picture or shape is covering the slide number placeholder.  To solve this you can resize, move or reorder (send to back) the picture or shape.

1. To send a picture or shape to the back of a selection of objects, click the picture or shape to select it.
2. From the PPT Productivity Format toolbar, select send to back or use your assigned keyboard shortcut to move the shape/image behind the slide number placeholder.

3. Repeat on any slides where the slide number is hidden.

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