A text box is probably THE element in Powerpoint that you need most often. So you better make them look good!
Well, first of all, you should always select a shape first (most often this will be a rectangle), put it on the slide and then write DIRECTLY in that shape. You should NOT put a shape on the slide, then put a text field in it and write in the text field. While the latter method might look ok when you do it right, it’s just bad style because it is unnecessarily complex (two objects instead of one) and – more importantly – it is a pain in the ass for everyone who wants to edit your presentation. So don’t do it. Simply write directly in the shape.
Second, you need to edit the text in the shape by clicking on the shape with a right mouse click and selecting “Format shape”, then “Text options”, then “Text box”. Here, you first chose the vertical alignment. In 99% of all cases, you should select “top” or “middle”. In fact, I can’t think of any situation in which I would select “bottom”. Second, the text direction should ALWAYS be “horizontal”. Please, do not rotate or stack text, it looks stupid and nobody will be able to read it anyway.
Third, you check the box “Do not autofit” (try to uncheck it and see what happens…I guarantee you, it will drive you crazy…) and you uncheck the boxes “Shrink text on overflow” and “Resize shape to fit text”. This way, you will keep control over your text boxes and not the other way round.
Fourth, you set the left, right, upper, and lower margins. Please do select a value here, since it looks absolutely moronic if the text is squeezed against the margin of the shape.
Fifth, you check the box “Wrap text in shape”.
Finally, under the option “Shape outline”, you select “No line” or “No border” (see post “Outlines” for more detail on my aversion for outlines).
One final thought about the heading for your text boxes: Of course, you can just type it in the box and distinguish it from the rest of the text by making it bold or choosing a bigger font size. A much more elegant solution, however, is to create a separate, slim box and type the heading in there. This allows you to select a different (usually darker) color for the heading and it just looks nicer.
Check the following examples: