How to Use “Slide Masters” to Customize Microsoft PowerPoint 365 Presentations


Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks

When you associate a slide master with a Microsoft PowerPoint 365 presentation, it stores information about that presentation’s visual theme and layout, including background images, fonts, effects, and placeholders. PowerPoint includes quite a few slide masters by default, but creating your own allows you to make global customizations to your entire presentation in a single stroke, saving an enormous amount of time and frustration.

Every presentation contains at least one slide master by default. To edit it, we must enter the Slide Master View. To do so, navigate to the View ribbon and select Slide Master within the Master Views group.

When you modify any layout beneath the top-most Master Slide, you effectively make changes to the entire Master schema. Each of these subordinate slides are called layouts. They can be customized to provide a wide but uniform selection of slide designs.

Perhaps you would like a layout for chapter title cards, another for reviewing key points, and several more types to cover the individual topics you plan to address during your presentation? While each slide layout may be set up differently, they still contain the same color scheme, fonts, and effects of the Master Slide.

When you first open the Slide Master view, you see a blank slide master with the default layouts.

Let’s look at the options available from the Slide Master Ribbon. While the topmost Master Slide is selected, you can make global changes to key elements by clicking on the Master Layout button.

The other options under this group are greyed out while on the master slide. These can only be accessed from individual layouts. Similarly, the Master Layout button is greyed out whenever you are on a subordinate layout slide.

This dialog box allows us to add and remove placeholder boxes for the title, text, date, slide number, and footer. Removing any of these layout components removes them completely from the master and its subordinate layouts.

Moving along the Slide Master ribbon, select the Themes button.

From here, we apply a preset theme to the entire master schema, which gives the presentation a set of visual display attributes, including background, font type, and colors. This is a good option if you are looking for something stylish and don’t want to spend time creating an entire theme from scratch.

For more granular control over your presets, look within the Background group to access the Colors, Fonts, and Effects options. The Colors panel offers a wide selection of color schemes to apply to the master. The Fonts panel lets you choose a global font to be used across the presentation. The Effects panel provides several sets of preset slide animations that give the slide deck a more elegant and polished look. (Or at least a predictable style, which is perfectly fine when you just want to get something done on time.)

The last option in this group is Background Styles, in which you can select a new color palette for the background, or, by way of the Format Background submenu, customize a color, pattern, or picture.

The final group of options under the Master Ribbon allow you to change the slide’s aspect ratio and return the slide deck by closing the Master View.

That’s a basic introduction to the Master Slide options, which affect all the pieces of this presentation. Layouts control the types of slides the presentation can include, and what elements are included on each one.

To add a new layout, in the Edit Master group click Insert Layout.

Placeholders are content-specific containers used on layouts to maintain consistency throughout a presentation. These can be simple text boxes, pictures, or even data tables. To remove unwanted placeholders, left-click to select and press Delete. To insert new placeholders, use the Insert Placeholder menu from the Slide Master Ribbon.

Sometimes you want to remove any of the built-in slide layouts that accompany the default slide master. This keeps your Master Template clean and concise, containing only the elements you actually use. To do so, in the slide thumbnail pane, right-click each slide layout to delete, and then click Delete Layout on the shortcut menu.

Once you’re satisfied with the design, I suggest you save the layout so you can use it on future presentations. To do this, navigate to the File tab, click Save As. In the Save as type list, click PowerPoint Template (*.potx), and then choose Save.

Congratulations, you now have your own PowerPoint 365 design template! You can now use this template on current and future slide decks to save time, promote consistency, and offer a unified and professional look to your presentations.

GSD: Tips and Tricks is brought to you by Xero, the cloud accounting software solution for your small business. With Xero, you can log in anytime, anywhere to get a real-time view of your cash flow and manage your books. Start your free 30-day trial today.

Leave a Reply