If you’re working in PowerPoint, and you want the slide number to display on the slide, the process is generally simple:

  1. Go to the Insert tab.
  2. Click the Slide Number button.
  3. On the Slide tab, check the Slide Number box.
  4. Click Apply to All to make the slide number show on all slides, or Apply to make the slide number show on just the current slide.

But what do you do if you follow the process above and the slide number still doesn’t appear on the slide?

Check to make sure your slide master has a slide number placeholder.

The slide master is the template for the entire presentation. If the slide number placeholder does not appear on your slide master, then it will not appear on your slide, even if you try to insert it through the process above.

1.  Check to see if the placeholder appears on your slide master.

  1. Go to the View tab.
  2. Click on the Slide Master button.
  3. Click on the outdented slide in the panel on the left. It should have a 1. next to it.
  4. Look at the slide in the enlarged view on the right and see if it has a box along the bottom (or anywhere, really), that has a # sign in it. This is the slide number placeholder (circled below).

2.  Add the slide number placeholder, if you do not see it.

  1. Go to the Slide Master tab.
  2. Click on the Master Layout button.
  3. Check the box next to Slide Number.
  4. Click OK.

3.  Check the indented slide masters for each individual slide layout.

In the left pane of the Slide Master view, you’ll see a different slide representing each possible layout. See the screenshot to the right for examples. You’ll need to check each individual layout slide master to see that the slide number placeholder is visible in that layout (assuming you want to see a slide number when you use that layout).

  1. Click on one of the individual slide layout masters. If the slide number placeholder appears, check the next individual slide layout master. If not, continue reading.
  2. Go to the Slide Master tab on the ribbon.
  3. Check the Footers box in the Master Layout section of the ribbon. The slide number placeholder should appear.
  4. Repeat for each layout on which a slide number should show.

4.  Add slide numbers to your slides.

When you are finished working with the slide master, click the Close Master View button on the Slide Master tab of the ribbon so you can continue to edit your presentation. Then follow the instructions at the top of this post to insert slide numbers on your slides.

Is your slide number covered by a shape or other object?

If you’ve you’ve inserted slide numbers, you’ve checked that your slide master has a slide number placeholder, and you still cannot see slide numbers on your slides, check to make sure there is not an object on your slide covering up the slide number.

To see all objects on the slide click once on your slide and the press Ctrl + A on the keyboard. This will select all objects on the slide, even the ones you might not see because they are the same color as the background. See if there is something in the bottom right corner of the slide, where the slide number usually appears, that might be covering it. If so, deselect the objects by clicking once in the grey area outside your slide, then select the covering object by clicking where you saw it on the slide. Either delete it, by pressing the Backspace key on the keyboard, or move it by clicking and dragging the object.

Didn’t find anything? Check again on the slide master (View tab > Slide Master button). Be sure to click Close Master View when you’re finished working in the slide master.

Do you have more than one slide master?

It is possible that your slides use multiple slide masters. This happens when additional slide masters are created. It can also happen if you paste slides that use a different slide master from another presentation into your presentation.

To see if your presentation is using multiple slide masters, go back to the slide master (View tab > Slide Master button). In the left pane, scroll down and see if you have more than one set of slide masters (each set will be numbered). Either determine which slide master your presentation uses and add the slide number placeholder to that master and each layout, or add the slide number placeholder to every slide master and every layout. You can determine which presentation slides use which slide masters by hovering over the slide master.  A pop-up note appears telling you the name of the slide master and which presentation slides use it.  The screenshot below indicates that the Office Theme Slide Master is used by slide 1 of my presentation. Be sure to click Close Master View when you’re finished working in the slide master.