Master PowerPoint with Slide Masters

You have probably experienced the tedium of double-checking your huge slide decks for formatting inconsistencies and copying and pasting logos on dozens of slides. Learning to work with Slide Masters frees you from those tedious tasks.

Slide Masters allow you to use a different slide topic font or color and instantly apply it throughout your presentation. Working with Slide Masters will also keep your presentations flexible.

If you have ever lived through a corporate identity change, you know what a big task it is to replace logos, colors and legal verbiage on presentations. By changing the Slide Master, your presentation can be in compliance in a snap.


On the View tab, Master Views group, click the Slide Master button. Notice that your ribbon now includes a new tab to the left of the Home tab. On the new Slide Master tab, far right, you will see a red Close Master View button.

The Slide Master view looks similar to the normal view. You have a Navigation pane on the left displaying the master slide and all the layouts included in the current template. However, unlike the normal view, any content you type in the place­­holders will disappear as soon as you get back to the Normal view. When in doubt, check the ribbon tabs. If you see Slide Master to the left of the Home tab, you’re in the Slide Master view.

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Scroll all the way up in the Navigation pane to view the actual Slide Master. All other slides will inherit their design characteristics from this slide. You will notice that it is more left-aligned than the layouts below. Each layout may inherit different aspects or features of this main master slide. These layouts are the selections available in Normal view when you right-click a slide from the Navigation pane and click Layouts.

Modifying the master and layouts

If you want a logo to appear in the same position on every slide, simply place that logo on the main master slide at the top. Most likely, you’ll only want to place it this way on a few layouts, positioning and sizing it differently on the Title Slide, for example. While in Slide Master view, you can choose a Theme from the Slide Master tab, Edit Theme group. Or, you can simply choose a Background style from the Background group. Once you have the theme and any design elements added, you may manipulate them either on the main master slide or any of the layouts.

Fonts and colors

Carefully consider text visibility in making font and color modifications. Applying bold and/or shadow effects can make your text pop off the screen in a presentation, making it easier to see. Keep font sizes large (24 points or larger), as they need to accommodate the venue in which your presentation will be seen. You don’t need to format every bullet point level in a slide layout. Only modify the levels that you intend to use. In general, bullets and one level of sub-bullet should be sufficient.