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Templates, design themes, and master slides explained

November 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Even longtime Powerpoint users are often baffled by design themes, templates, masters, and layouts: What they are, how they work, and the ways in which they are related. So let me try and explain.

The design theme is a utility file saved in the working folders for Microsoft Office. It controls background graphics, color palette and the font hierarchy for any presentation based on it.

The template is a vehicle for the theme and master slides. This file is also stored in the working folders with the file extension “.potx.” Powerpoint also permits the user to save a copy in any location they choose. Opening a .potx file from any location will initiate a fresh Powerpoint file (a .pptx) that defaults to the properties designated in the design theme, with all the customized layouts in the template available.

The reason opening a template actually gives you a new presentation based on the template and not the template itself is so that the user does not unintentionally modify the template, which would affect any existing presentations based on it. To change the actual template, you must perform a save-as and choose the .potx format from the menu options.

Masters and layouts

The master slide controls the default properties and locations of the basic elements of each slide (title, body, footer, page number). The layouts are subordinate to the master slide and they represent variations on the master. Ideally, you have a layout not only for the basic title-and-content slide, but also for every instance where you deviate from the master scheme. These alternate layouts may be applied by using the Layout drop-down menu under the Home tab. This menu displays thumbnail images of the available layouts, making it fairly easy to determine the appropriate one.

By using the layouts already embedded in the template, you ensure that alterations you may need to make to the design properties of the entire presentation need only be made on the master and layout slides, saving you the trouble of repeating those changes on each active slide. If you need to shrink the font in the title and move it to the left, you do this once, on the master slide, and that change will cascade through every slide in your deck.

On the other hand, ignoring the masters and layouts leaves you with unique content on every slide, making global changes impossible.

If you find the layout options do not cover a slide you need to build, design the custom slide in the Master view as a new layout and then apply it to an active slide before flowing in your content. This way, the layout can be used again and changes made to it will cascade on all active slides it applies to.

A presentation that makes good use of masters and layouts may be completely reformatted with a couple of clicks, should you ever need to apply a different theme (or template).

Powerpoint Integration: Combining Presentations with Differing Designs

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

There is no fool-proof way (that we know of) to combine presentations with different design schemes into one cohesive presentation in Powerpoint, but you can do the heavy lifting in six easy steps.

You should first get the design in place. Perhaps one of the PPT files already has the right background, colors, and fonts in place: If that is true…

  1. Open that file, save it under a new name, and put it into ‘slide sorter’ mode by clicking on ‘View’ and ‘Slide Sorter’
  2. Open the other file and put that one into slide sorter mode
  3. Click on one of the thumbnails and then hit CTL-A to select all of them and CTL-C to copy
  4. Go back to the other file (the one that has the right design) and click on the last thumbnail
  5. Press CTL-V to paste the slides. A clipboard icon will appear: click on it and choose ‘Use Destination Theme.’ This will apply the desired design rules to the slides you’re pasting in.
  6. Arrange the slides in the proper order using slide sorter mode.
  7. Save.

Repeat that process on any other files you wish to integrate and save again.

You now must go through the presentation, from start to finish, making adjustments as needed. The slides you pasted in may have unwanted line breaks or improper colors. Text you’ve bolded or italicized may have reverted to plain text. Keep the original files open so you can refer to those as you correct the new ones.

If neither of the original presentations have a design template you’re happy with, you want to start by creating a new file into which you’ll paste the contents of the originals. Press CTL-N and choose a design scheme from the gallery that opens

You could also start with a plain slide and design the template yourself from scratch by altering the master slides. However, if you’re unfamiliar with master slides, this isn’t the way to go.