Posts Tagged ‘masters’

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).


Keynote for iPad: First Impressions

April 4, 2010 4 comments

Our Keynote developer spent last night and this morning getting acquainted with Keynote for iPad. We were intrigued by the iPad the minute we saw the Keynote demo and could not wait to get our hands on it. Here is what we have learned.

The Good

It’s fairly easy to copy images from the web for use in Keynote and to resize them and move them around.

There are 43 fonts available. Palatino is here, as well as Helvetica (designer Michael Critz has made a list: iPad fonts). On the other hand, this is going to be limiting: Clients love custom fonts so hopefully there will be a way to install new ones soon.

A Keynote presentation designed on another machine can be sent to the iPad via e-mail or downloaded from an online folder. Users can create or make changes to presentations on the iPad and upload them to or send by e-mail (be ready for more font difficulties). The ‘Send via Mail’ option yields the choice between sending a Keynote file or turning it into a PDF.

The Bad

We are surprised and disappointed that users cannot customize master slides and are limited to the eight standard masters that come with each of the 12 design schemes. Sadly, even importing a presentation with custom-designed masters will not get around this limitation. Users are limited to duplicating slides and making changes to follow a custom design. Naturally, making global changes by modifying a master is impossible (you cannot modify a master slide).

We were unable to open a .zip file from e-mail on the iPad.

A Quicktime (.mov) video was dropped every time a sample presentation was transferred to iPad using e-mail or online folders, although photos embedded in the sample were retained.

When opening a presentation with unsupported media or fonts on the iPad, a ‘Presentation Import Warnings’ window opens detailing what went wrong. Unfortunately, these warnings are a little vague. iPad Keynote tells us which fonts are missing, but instead of informing us which ones they have been replaced with, we’re merely told “Your text might look different,” (in fact all missing fonts were replaced with Arial). For missing video, it’s even worse: “Unsupported media were removed.” We’re not told what was removed nor from which slide or slides.

There is no print option. Users must send a Keynote file or PDF and print from another machine.

What it Has

  • Animation options for building-in and -out
  • Magic Move for moving and resizing objects between slides
  • Move items to front or back, forward or backward
  • Image masking
  • Undo and redo button (press and hold ‘undo’ to reveal redo option)
  • Plenty of ‘Smart Builds’
  • Title case option under ‘Text’ in the ‘Info’ toolbar button.

What it Lacks

  • Ability to build or edit master slides
  • Grouping of shapes, text, or images
  • Motion paths for animating objects
  • Any method for evenly distributing objects (no distribute option is given when shapes are selected and no edge guides pop up to indicate when shapes arrive at regular intervals)
  • Color picker or custom colors
  • Alpha tool
  • Ability to re-color or blur images
  • Ability to copy and paste properties
  • Ability to print directly from iPad
  • Video support.

The iPad Overall

It may not be for you if you can’t stand fingerprints on your screen.

Editing web content is difficult: Safari does not recognize many editable fields (this one, for instance).

Apple is upselling: MobileMe appears to be required if you wish to sync contacts and calendars.

It does have the option of disabling CAPS LOCK (Oh, how we have wished for a computer that would eliminate the accidental CAPS LOCK!).

Most iPhone applications that are available for iPad are unchanged and appear in an iPhone-sized window in the center of the screen.

The iPad has great battery life: You can reasonably expect six hours of heavy use before it conks out. Word is it recharges in four, but we have yet to time this out.

It gives off no perceptible heat and has no fan, so it runs silently. It is easy to handle and does not appear to strain the eyes. Reading from the iPad is very comfortable and the iBooks application yields beautiful-looking ebooks.

[Gary Reichardt]