Adding slide numbers in PowerPoint, on the face of it, is pretty easy. In fact PowerPoint provides a wealth of ways to add page numbers onto your slides; however, some of these methods don’t always work. So if you’re at the end of your tether and you just can’t get those pesky numbers to show up on your slides, here’s how you can add slide numbers in PowerPoint in three ways.

Before we dig in with our first method, it’s worth saying I don’t know why using some of these options don’t work every time, but hopefully one of these ways will be the secret to magicking that oh-so elusive number on your slide, and save you the editability nightmare of adding them all in manually to a 207 slide deck.

Method 1: How to insert a slide number

The simplest way to add a slide number in PowerPoint is to navigate to the ‘Insert’ tab, and then click the icon to ‘Insert Slide Number’.

add slide numbers in powerpoint

Clicking this option opens a pop-up where you check ‘Slide Number’ and then ‘Apply to all’

add slide numbers in powerpoint

Method 2: How to add footers in the Slide Master

If step one didn’t work, let’s level up our slide number skills. Navigate to the View tab, and then open the Slide Master. Once you’re in the Slide Master you’ll notice that you still have the Insert Slide Number option you did in the normal PowerPoint view. For some reason of explicit wizardry, this option doesn’t work.

When you open up the Slide Master it will default onto the page layout for the page you we’re viewing in the normal view. If you are struggling to get slide numbers on this page it could be because the ‘Footers’ option isn’t checked. Checking this should bring up a number of pre-programmed footers on your slide.

add slide numbers in powerpoint

Method 3: How to edit the Master Layout

Step two works for adding slide numbers if things have been deleted or moved (often by accident) from a particular template in your master, but sometimes there are page numbers missing across multiple layouts. So to fix this, we go back and open up the Slide Master from the View tab and select the main layout (you might have to scroll to the top to find it).

Right click and select ‘Master Layout’.

add slide numbers in powerpoint

This will bring up a number of options, one of which… drum roll please… will be the option to add a slide number. Make sure this box is checked and it should bring up your slide numbers in all their collective glory!

add slide numbers in powerpoint

The trick to a lot of this is playing around with the different methods to find the one that works for your presentation. Maybe we could all petition Microsoft to see if they can find a single reliable way of adding in page numbers, instead of three that don’t seem to work so well, but this should give you a good starting point, and save you from the nightmare of adding things in manually.

As you can probably tell Slide Masters take quite a lot of mastering. Few people rarely sit down and make a master layout from scratch – most companies already have one. But over time people move or edit things, or the original master was made quite poorly to begin with, and it makes working in PowerPoint miserable. If you want to hack your way to Slide Master Master, then check out our events page, we regularly run a free webinar on slide masters and templates, so sign up and be the saviour of your company PowerPoint.

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Written by

Shay O’Donnell

Senior design consultant

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  1. Image of K K says:

    Very useful

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