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How to add text variables (page numbers, dates, placeholders)

Need to quickly add page-numbers on a multi-page presentation? Worried that shuffling or deleting pages will cause your page numbers to get mixed up? Or maybe you’re working on an ongoing project that needs a reference of when the last version was rolled out? Text variables can help with that and more!

We use text variables in cases where the content is likely to change depending on the context. With this guide, we’ll show you how to add different text variables in InDesign and Powerpoint.

Adding automatic page numbers

How to add page numbers in Powerpoint

  1. Go to Slide Master in your Powerpoint file.

  1. Create a text frame and type in your page number

  1. Style it how you would like the page numbers to look (again, make sure it fits with your brand).
  2. Highlight the text.
  3. In the main ribbon, go to Insert, then Slide number.

  1. Exit the Slide Master.
  2. Insert the new slide layout by going to New Slide on the main ribbon, and selecting the layout that has the page numbers integrated.

  1. If you need to add page numbers to slides you’ve already created, select those slides, and select Reset on the main ribbon. This will update the slide master to the most current version.

  1. To edit an existing page number on Slide Master, go back to the Slide Master, select the page number, and style it from there.  

How to add page numbers in InDesign

  1. Go to Parent Pages in your InDesign file. If you need to create a Parent Page, select Pages. From the drop-down menu, select New Parent. We’re using the Ethics Ambassadors Onboarding deck for this example.

  1. Create a text frame and type in the page number

  1. Style it how you would like the page numbers to look (use your font and brand colors so it goes with the rest of the document)

  2. Highlight the text and go to Type, Insert Special Character, Markers, and then Current Page Number.

  1. Go to the Pages drop down menu and select Apply parent to pages.

  1. Set which pages you would like to apply the page numbers to, or select All Pages in the drop down menu.

  1. To edit an existing page number, return to your Parent Pages, select the page number and repeat step 3.

Adding automatic dates

How to add dates in Powerpoint

  1. Select the text you want to convert into your date and highlight it.

  1. In the main ribbon, go to Insert, then Date & Time.

  1. Select the date format you prefer.

  1. Check the Update Automatically checkbox if you want the date and/or time to update automatically.

  1. Select Insert.

  2. Optional: Copy the date and time to your Slide Master if you want it to appear on multiple slides in the same place.

  3. If you want to edit the date format for an existing date, repeat steps 3-6.

How to add dates in InDesign

  1. Create a text frame and type in the date. We’re using the Newsletter Template from the Compliance Brand Toolkit for this example.

  1. Highlight the text and go to Type, Text Variable, Insert Variable, and then Modification Date.

  1. If you want the date to display in a different format, go to Type, Text Variable, then Define…

  1. Select Modification Date. Go to Edit…

  1. Input the date according to the format you prefer. You can use the preview option below to see how the date will appear.

  1. Select OK, then Done.

Adding placeholder text

Placeholder text is good for planning out where large blocks of text are going to be. It is especially useful if you don’t have the content that you’re going to be using, or if you’re building out a template to be used by others. For example, in our Newsletter Template, we used placeholder text so that our customers will know where they can place their content.

How to add placeholder text boxes in Powerpoint

  1. Go to your Slide Master in your Powerpoint file.

  2. Under the Slide Master Ribbon, select Insert Placeholder.

  3. Select text.

  1. Fill the text box with the text style that best fits your brand style. Make sure you don’t leave any text in the text box or the placeholder will become un-editable when you insert the master slide into the main deck.

  2. Exit the Slide Master, and insert the new Slide using the layout that contains the placeholder text box.

  3. You should see a box that reads “Click to add text”, and from there you can add text without having to worry about altering the design of the page.

  1. If the text box needs to be adjusted, you can edit it in the main slide or in the Slide Master.

  2. Optional: In Powerpoint, you can also insert placeholders for images. For example, the gray rectangle can be made a placeholder by going to Insert Placeholder, Picture. Resize the placeholder box to the size you want, and exit the Slide Master. 

  1. When you insert the New Slide, click on the small landscape picture within the square, pick your photo, and select Insert.

  1. To resize the image within its container, go to Picture Format, select the Crop dropdown menu, and select Fit.

  1. To remove the fill color, select the image, go to Format Picture, Fill, and then No fill.

How to add placeholder text in InDesign

  1. Create your text frame.

  1. Go to Type, then Fill with Placeholder Text.

  2. If you make the text frame larger, repeat Step 2 and the rest of the frame will be filled with more placeholder text.

Want to implement your brand even further? Check out our Applying your branding how-to-guide for Powerpoint!

New to Broadcat? Hey, thanks for checking us out! You may have found this page while searching for ways to add text variables to PowerPoint and InDesign. If so, we hope this info is helpful for you! If you work at an organization which has a compliance department, be sure to let them know about us!

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