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How to Set Up and Use Subtitles in Microsoft PowerPoint

If you’re presenting a slideshow to others who speak a different language, you can use subtitles in Microsoft PowerPoint. This helpful feature lets you talk to your audience without doing the work of translation yourself.

RELATED: How to Translate a Word Document

How Subtitles Work in PowerPoint

If you have members of your audience who speak a different language or dialect, you may contemplate translating the slides or even creating two versions of the presentation. But with the subtitles in Microsoft PowerPoint, you don’t have to do either.

You can speak in your native tongue and show real-time captions of everything you say in another language of your choice. All you need is a connected and working microphone with a stable internet connection for the live translation. You can then talk through each slide so that everyone understands.

Tip: You might also consider using the subtitle feature if members of your audience are hard of hearing. You can simply display the captions in the same language as the spoken one.

Set Up Subtitles in PowerPoint

Open your slideshow in PowerPoint and head to the Slide Show tab to set up the subtitles. On the right side of the ribbon, click “Subtitle Settings.”

Use the drop-down list to select the Spoken Language, if necessary, and then the Subtitle Language from over 60 dialects.

Subtitle language options

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If you have more than one microphone connected to your computer, choose the one you want to use in the Microphone pop-out menu.

Lastly, select the location for the subtitles to appear on the screen. You can show them overlaid on the top or bottom, or above or below the slide.

Subtitle Settings in PowerPoint

Adjust the Subtitle Appearance

You can also change the appearance of the subtitles including the font and background. Select the Subtitle Settings drop-down arrow and choose “More Settings (Windows)” on Windows or “System Caption Preferences” on Mac.

RELATED: How to Change the Appearance of Netflix’s Subtitles

On Windows, you can choose the caption font color, transparency, style, size, and effects using the drop-down boxes. Additionally, you can pick a background color and opacity setting, and dim the window content to improve contrast.

Caption settings on Windows

On Mac, you can select a preset option like Transparent Background, Classic, or Outline Text. To customize the background color and opacity along with the font color, size, style, and more, click the plus sign at the bottom of the preset list.

Caption settings on Mac

Use and Control Subtitles

Once you have your subtitles set up, they’re ready to use. You can enable subtitles by default or toggle them on and off during your presentation.

Subtitles in PowerPoint

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To use subtitles automatically, check the box for Always Use Subtitles above the Subtitle Settings in the ribbon.

Checkbox for Always Use Subtitles

Note: You can still turn off subtitles during the presentation when you use the automatic option.

To turn on subtitles during your slideshow, you can right-click the slide and select “Start Subtitles.” This option then changes to “Stop Subtitles” if you decide to turn them off.

Select Start Subtitles

If you’re using Presenter View on Windows, you can use the Toggle Subtitles icon.

In Presenter View on Mac, use the Closed Caption icon to turn the subtitles on and off.

Subtitles in PowerPoint give you an easy way to present your slideshow in almost any language you need.

For help like this during a meeting, take a look at how to use live captions in Microsoft Teams or how to add live closed captions in Zoom.

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