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PowerPoint Subtitles

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PowerPoint Subtitle Examples

OK, why would you need subtitles when presenting in PowerPoint? Imagine the following situation:

You are presenting an important PowerPoint presentation in English worldwide. Not all of the attendees are fluent in English. But there is an important point you want to make sure that everyone understands. So after ascertaining which language you would like PowerPoint to translate, in the above tutorials it's Mandarin Chinese, you decide to get PowerPoint to transcribe your spoken English into simplified Chinese characters.

Alternatively, you may just want to display English subtitles. This would be handy for anyone who can't literally hear the presentation for any reason. Perhaps in a busy office or at home and don't have access to headphones. There are any number of reasons as to why you would want to use captions in PowerPoint.

Which version of PowerPoint do I need?

Presently, if you want to add live captions in PowerPoint you will need Office 365. Check what version of PowerPoint you have by:

  1. Click File (top left)
  2. Click Account (bottom left)
  3. View your office version in the product information section on the right.

Check your PowerPoint version

More information can be found on the Microsoft Website but basically if you don't have PowerPoint 365 you won't be able to follow along with this PowerPoint tutorial.

How to add subtitles in PowerPoint?

Ideally, you would first open the presentation that you wish to add the subtitles. If, however, you just want to muck about with PowerPoint closed captioning you can practice with a blank presentation.

1. Click Slide Show

In PowerPoint from the ribbon at the top of the screen click on the Slide Show tab.

2. Tick Always use Subtitles

In the Captions & Subtitles section ensure that the Always use subtitles checkbox is ticked.

3. Choose Spoken language

From the Subtitle Settings drop-down menu choose the language you are most comfortable speaking. I naturally chose English, however you have a choice of 8 languages that should work pretty well with 15 "preview" languages that are being worked on. The preview languages may not translate as accurately. Choose the language that best suits your location. Note that I chose: "English (United Kingdom)" but you might find PowerPoint transcribing accuracy improves if you're from the US to choose "English (United States)".

4. Choose Subtitle Language

Now choose the language you wish to display as the subtitle language. You currently have 63 closed caption languages to choose from, with 5 preview languages on their way.

5. Choose your Microphone

Use the microphone sub-menu to choose the microphone you want to use. Obviously you will need a microphone so that PowerPoint can pick up your voice. You can use the microphone that comes with your laptop. However, to make it easier for PowerPoint to understand what you're saying, I would recommend that you buy a better microphone. There's a cool presentation on how to sound your best on Zoom which might help you with this.

6. Choose Subtitle Location

Now you need to decide where you want your subtitles to display on the screen. The default location is below the slide. But you have options to display the subtitles in your PowerPoint presentation either overlaid top and bottom, above and below the slide.

Subtitle Location in PowerPoint

7. Start your PowerPoint Presentation with Subtitles

Now you can start your PowerPoint presentation in the usual way, I use F5 on the keyboard. Notice now that as you speak you will see the subtitles appear, in your chosen language, at the bottom of the screen. If you want to, for whatever reason, temporarily stop displaying subtiles you can click on the "Toggle Subtitles" button on the button or press "J" on the keyboard.

Toggle PowerPoint Subtitles button - Press "J" on Keyboard

8. Changing the Subtitle Language during a Presentation

If you want to change the subtitle language during the presentation do the following:

  1. Click the more slide show options button at the bottom to the right of the toggle subtitle button.
  2. Click Subtitle settings and then go to more settings.

    Subtitle settings menu in PowerPoint
  3. In the "More Settings" box change the language to the new one. For example: "Arabic".

    Subtitle settings box in PowerPoint
  4. Click OK.

Now your subtitles appear in Arabic. Amazing eh?

You can end the presentation by pressing esc on the keyboard.

Is using PowerPoint to Speak another Language worth it?

OK, I can hear you shout: "It's not speaking another language!" and technically it's not. However, it's better that a kick in the teeth. This obviously doesn't replace real life language translation skills. If you've used other translation services you'll know that automatic translation tools are a long way off replacing professional translators. However, if you want to ensure that someone, who speaks another language, get's a little of your PowerPoint presentation then this tool is fab.

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