How to Change Units in PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to create visually engaging presentations. When designing slides, you may need to specify precise object sizes and positioning. PowerPoint displays measurements using either metric (centimeters/millimeters) or imperial (inches/points/picas) units depending on your computer’s regional settings. This article explains how to easily switch between metric and imperial units in PowerPoint.

Why Change Measurement Units in PowerPoint

The default measurement units in PowerPoint are determined by your operating system’s region and language settings, not PowerPoint itself.

You may want to change units for several reasons:

  • Your audience is more familiar with imperial or metric units
  • You are collaborating with international colleagues
  • You need consistency with other documents using different units
  • Personal preference for specific units

Fortunately, it only takes a few clicks to change the units in PowerPoint.

How to Switch Units in PowerPoint on Windows

To change measurement units on Windows:

  1. Close any open PowerPoint files
  2. Open Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region > Change date, time, or number formats
  3. Click “Additional Settings”
  4. Under “Measurement System”, select “Metric” or “US”
  5. Click OK to save changes
  6. Launch PowerPoint

The rulers and all size/position inputs will now display in your chosen system.

Changing Units in PowerPoint on Mac

To change units on Mac:

  1. Quit PowerPoint if open
  2. Go to System Preferences > Language & Region
  3. Click the Advanced tab
  4. Select your preferred measurement system under “Measurement Units”
  5. Click OK to save the changes
  6. Relaunch PowerPoint

Again, all measurements will now match your selected units.

Entering Custom Units in PowerPoint

You can override the system default units by manually typing a measurement with units:

  • 10 cm – 10 centimeters
  • 72 pt – 72 points

When you exit the input field, PowerPoint will convert the value to the default system units. This is handy for mixing units when needed.

Converting Between Units in Presentations

To batch convert existing measurements between units within a PowerPoint presentation:

  1. On the View tab, open the rulers
  2. Right click either ruler and select “Units”
  3. Choose your desired units
  4. Click OK

Any objects with size or position values will be automatically converted to the new units.

Setting Measurement Units for Print vs Web

Another option is to set different measurement systems for printing vs on-screen display:

  1. File > Options > Advanced
  2. Under “Display”, set “Web Page Resolution” to your preferred web units
  3. Set “Show measurements in units of” for your desired print output units

Page content will adapt accordingly.

Key Takeaways

  • PowerPoint inherits measurement units from your operating system settings
  • Switch units via Control Panel (Windows) or Language & Region (Mac)
  • Override defaults by typing values with units like 10 cm
  • Convert multiple objects by changing ruler units
  • Optionally use different units for print vs web

Changing measurement units in PowerPoint is simple once you know where to look.

Follow the steps outlined above to seamlessly switch between metric and imperial units as needed when creating or editing PowerPoint presentations. This allows tailoring slides for both online and printed distribution across international audiences.