Changing Measurement Units in PowerPoint

Changing the measurement units in PowerPoint is possible but unnecessarily complicated, we’ll show you how in both Windows and Mac.  

The Measurement Units show up in the ruler and also in places like the size and exact positioning of images.

Measurement option – US or Metric

Ideally you want to change between the main measurement systems:

  • US/Imperial – inches
  • Metric – centimetres (cm) or millimetres (mm).
  • Typography – points (pt)
  • Technical – picas (pc) or pixels (px)

For some reason, lost in the mists of time, you can’t directly change the units used in PowerPoint.  It’s easy in Word and Excel but not in PowerPoint.  It seems to be something that’s been in PowerPoint since the beginning and Microsoft hasn’t bothered to fix it.

Because of that limitation, PowerPoint can only use either U.S. inches or Metric (centimetres only).  No choice of millimetres, let alone point, picas or pixels.  Grrrrr.

Change Windows or Mac settings

PowerPoint displays the measurement system your computer uses, specifically the one set in either Windows or Mac settings.

That can be convenient because the one setting applies to other apps as well.  Or it can be INconvenient because other apps are affected by a change you’d prefer for just PowerPoint <sigh>.

It’s a PITA for PowerPoint users who need to change measurement units to suit different situations. For example, a freelancer who works with both metric, US/Imperial and technical clients.

Measurement System in Windows

In PowerPoint for Windows, to change the measurement system, do it via the Windows Control Panel.  Yes, Control Panel, not modern Settings.  Even in Windows 11, the measurement system setting is only on the Control Panel (it wasn’t migrated to Settings along with other regional format options).

To change the measurement units in PowerPoint, just follow these simple steps: 

  1. Open the Windows Control Panel (go to Start and type in Control Panel)
  2. Open up the Region app
  3. Click on Additional Settings…
  4. Select U.S or Metric from the Measurement system list then select OK.
  5. Start or Restart PowerPoint for the change to take effect.

Mac Measurement Units

On a Mac computer go to Apple | System Settings | General | Language and Region then choose between

  • Metric – centimetres
  • US   – inches
  • UK – centimetres (Apple isn’t clear on the difference between ‘Metric’ and ‘UK’ macOS settings). Choosing ‘UK’ in macOS changes PowerPoint to centimetre measures.

Restart PowerPoint for the change to show up.

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