PowerPoint can’t add slide number: Causes and fixes

Within Microsoft PowerPoint, there are numerous aspects of the application that can be used to help you, the user, with organisation. One such feature is slide numbers, which as the name would suggest, are a way of adding page numbers to the slides within your PowerPoint slideshow.

There are two things worth noting when discussing slide numbers. There is a fairly vast range of ways to implement them into your PowerPoint, and some of them seem to not work after being implemented. It is hard to figure out why exactly they don’t work, but knowing that there is that risk, it is smart to have some other methods lined up should you need them.

So, slide numbers. We will be exploring the ways in which you can add them to your PowerPoint slideshow. These include simply adding slide numbers, whilst too looking at adding footers should you need them, in case the first method doesn’t work for you.

As is the case with every article we write on this site, we will first offer you a step by step guide of each of these three processes. If that is not enough detail for you to work with, then don’t worry. We will then break each process down into more detailed and thorough analyses, with accompanying screenshots to best suit your aid.

First, adding slide numbers.

Step by step: PowerPoint can’t add slide number: How to fix

  • Open your Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow.
  • Navigate to the ‘Insert’ tab of the application.
  • To the right of the navigation bar is a small icon, which represents the slide numbers. Click on that (it will be highlighted below).
  • This will open a pop-up menu.
  • Tick the box next to the option, ‘Slide number’.
  • Now, at the bottom of the menu, click ‘Apply to All’.

So, the first step of this process is to open Microsoft PowerPoint. It can probably be expected that you would use the shortcut that you have set for yourself. If though, for some strange reason, you can not find said shortcut, and are using a Windows device, then look to the search bar at the bottom of your screen, type it there, and it will arise as an option.


After opening PowerPoint, you will want to look towards the navigation bar at the top of your screen. Here, click the ‘Insert’ tab.


Now, on the Insert tab, will be a very small button that represents the slide number settings for your project. It is next to the Word Art subsection of options, and has been heavily highlighted in the below screenshot solely due to its naturally small size.


Clicking this small icon will cause a small pop up menu to appear on your PowerPoint screen. On this menu, you will be able to view the current settings for your footnotes and slide numbers within your presentation. On this menu, there will be a tick box labelled ‘Slide Number’. By default, this will be unticked. You will need to tick it, as you’ll be able to see below.


By ticking this, it will set a slide number to the first slide of your PowerPoint presentation. In order to make it a feature of every slide from there on, then you will have to click ‘Apply to All’ at the bottom of the screen, as opposed to simply clicking ‘Apply’. Again, should you need it, we have highlighted this detail in the below screenshot.


Clicking this should cause a slide number to appear on your PowerPoint. The number should be visible in the bottom right corner of your slide, as a faint grey number to illustrate the slide you are on. It should appear as thus:


Whilst this should work for you as you are trying to add your slide numbers, if it doesn’t, then there is at least one other way to at least try and add these numbers to your slideshow. Now, we will explore using Slide Master to add slide numbers to your presentation. Again, we will offer you the steps before breaking the process down into further detail.

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STEP BY STEP: ADDING SLIDE NUMBERS TO YOUR PRESENTATION IN SLIDE MASTER

  • Open your PowerPoint slideshow.
  • Look to the top of your screen and navigate to the ‘View’ subsection.
  • Here, look to launch ‘Slide Master’.
  • Now, you will be able to see if footers, or slide numbers, are enabled via the slide master. Sometimes, they may be defaulted to being off.
  • To resolve this, simply tick the box to enable these slide notes.

So, as you can expect, your first step is to open Microsoft PowerPoint. After opening the presentation you wish to add slide numbers to, look towards the top of your screen. By default, you will be on the ‘Home’ tab. You will instead want to navigate to the ‘View’ tab, which again, has been emboldened below should you need guidance to find it.


On the ‘View’ tab, you should see an option labelled ‘Slide Master’ which, as you could probably guess, is what you will want to click in order to navigate to, well, the slide master section of PowerPoint.


Opening the Slide Master will present you with numerous options, as you would probably expect from an editing hub such as this. 

On this hub, however, you don’t actually need to stray far from its main menu. On said main menu, there will be a tick box titled ‘Footers’, relating to whether or not they are enabled for you. Whilst, as a default, they should be allowed, they may not be on your device. Simply make sure the box is ticked, and see if this makes any sort of difference.


Just like that, the process is complete!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, I hope you found it as helpful as you wanted it to be! As is the case with every blog post we publish, if you encounter any issues throughout either process, or simply wish to share some thoughts you may have, then please do not hesitate to get into contact with a member of our team.

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Michael Fontana

Michael Fontana has been the managing director of telecoms and MSP Optionbox for over a decade and has worked in various telecommunication roles over the last 20 years. Michael has been involved in many exciting projects, such as co-founding telecoms and IT businesses and has now built up a team of more than 15 staff, serving over 300 clients nationwide. With a wealth of experience in IT and a passion for technology, Michael is now helping BTP to produce the highest quality guides on the internet. You can connect with Michael on LinkedIn.

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