Monday, July 22, 2024

PowerPoint Tips: Slide and Title Masters

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Whatever tools you can find to speed up your day’s work are tools well worth owning. PowerPoint has its share of features that reduce the time it takes to create and format a presentation, but some of these are well hidden. For example, PowerPoint masters can help you control the look of the slides in your presentations. In this article I’ll show you what  masters are and how you can use them to save time and avoid repetitive formatting.

What is a PowerPoint Master?
A PowerPoint master is a slide that contains everything that appears by default on all the slides in the presentation: the background image, header and footer details and the placement and size of placeholders and text formats.

PowerPoint master screen shot
Slide masters contain the default formatting for all the slides in your presentation.
(Click for larger image)

The formatting applied by default to the text on a PowerPoint slide is the formatting described on the PowerPoint slide master. You can edit the Slide master to set the default appearance anyway you like. For example, you can configure the Slide master so that it formats slide titles with Verdana font, 24 point, bold, blue color. When you do this, all the slides in the presentation will have a title formatted in this way.

Of course you can change the title formatting for a single slide by changing it on that slide. However, by specifying a default format on the slide master, you won’t waste time repetitively formatting each slide one-by-one.

In addition, if you later decide that you want to use Georgia font instead of Verdana, you can change the font on the slide master and every slide in the presentation that hasn’t been formatted individually will change automatically to match the slide master format.

Work with the Master
To see how a PowerPoint Slide Master works, create a new presentation based on a design template or open an existing presentation that is based on a template. Choose View > Master > Slide Masterto open the slide master view of the presentation. On the far left of the screen are one or two thumbnails. Every slide will have a slide master and some will also have a title master – there’s no hard and fast rule about whether a presentation has both or not.

The slide master is used to format all slides in the presentation except title slides, which are formatted using the title master format, if the presentation has a title master. Every slide presentation has at least a slide master. Click on the slide master to view it in the edit area. The formatting that appears on the slide master is, by default, applied to all the slides in your presentation. You can click an element such as the master title style and make changes to it by selecting a different font or some other attribute from the formatting toolbar.

PowerPoint logo screen shot
Add your company logo to your slide master, and it will appear on all the slides in your presentation.
(Click for larger image)

Across the bottom of the slide master you’ll find areas you can set to display the date, time, footer text and the page number on each slide. If you don’t plan to use them, you can remove the placeholders from the Slide master.

You can also change the slide master background, and you can add an image to the Slide master — your company logo, perhaps — so that it appears automatically on all the slides in your presentation. When you do this, be careful about where you put the image.

The content you place on the slide master sits on the bottom layer of the actual slides, and you can’t alter its layering. That means any other elements you may add later, such as text or photo boxes, can obscure elements on the master slide level.

Multiple Masters
You can create a second set of Slide masters for some slides in the presentation. For example, if your slide show has two distinct sections, a second set of title and slide masters lets you format the second section a little differently.

You need to be aware of one gotcha, however. PowerPoint has a nasty habit of deleting Slide masters and Title masters that aren’t currently in use. To protect against this, right click the thumbnail for each Title and Slide master in Slide Master View and click Preserve Master if it isn’t checked already – this prevents the master from being deleted.

PowerPoint preserve master screen shot
The Preserve Master option ensures your masters won’t deleted if they are not in use.
(Click for larger image)

To create a second set of masters, go to Slide Master View (View > Master > Slide Master), right click an empty place in the thumbnail pane and choose New Slide Master or right click the existing Slide master and choose Copy and then right click an empty place in the thumbnail pane and click Paste to use the original as a template for the new ones.

Apply your formatting to the Slide master, right click its thumbnail, make sure Preserve Master has a check next to it and, when you have finished with Master View, click the Close Master View button.

Apply a Master
To apply a Slide master to an individual slide, click the slide’s thumbnail to select it and, from the Slide Design task pane, click the dropdown arrow to the right of the master. Next choose Apply to Selected Slides from the shortcut menu. Do not click the Slide master thumbnail itself or you’ll apply the master to all slides in the presentation – not just the selected one.

Make a Template
If you make lots of PowerPoint decks, you can create a presentation with just your Slide master formatting in it to use as a starting template for each new presentation you make.

First, create a new empty slide show and set up your Title and Slide masters to appear the way you want. Then choose File > Save As and from the Save As Type list, choose Design Template (*.pot). Now type a name for your template and click Save.

The template will be saved to your default template location, and you can use it anytime to create a new presentation by choosing File > New and then selecting it from the list in the Slide Design task pane. If your template contains multiple masters, you’ll be asked if you want to copy them all into your presentation – answer Yesso they’ll all be available to you.

PowerPoint preserve master screen shot
The Preserve Master option ensures your masters won’t deleted if they are not in use.
(Click for larger image)

Re-format a Presentation
You can use a saved template to reformat an existing presentation. Open the presentation and display the Slide master by choosing View > Master > Slide Master. Locate your design template, click the arrow to its immediate right and choose Add Designsto add the new masters to the presentation.

Next delete the existing masters by right-clicking each in turn, and then click Delete. When you’re done, choose Close Master View. If all of the slides don’t adjust correctly to the new layout, chances are that they include additional formatting. To strip this from the slide, click the slide and display the Slide Layout task pane by choosing Format > Slide Layout. Select a layout that most resembles the one used to create this slide. Click the arrow to its immediate right and choose Reapply Layout. This resets the slide layout and sets the slide formatting to match the formatting on the Slide master.

You will find that Slide masters and Title masters make the process of creating your PowerPoint presentations much simpler than if you try to format each slide individually.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site,

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