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For Seniors: How to Work with PowerPoint Slide Masters

A theme is a design set that you apply to a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation to change several elements at once, including background, color scheme, fonts, and the positions of the placeholders on the various layouts. When you choose a theme, the theme is applied to the Slide Master, which is a template that affects the look of all slides in the presentation.

Formatting the Slide Master automatically formats every slide, and that’s a big bonus because a presentation looks more professional when all the slides match.

After applying a theme, if the appearance isn’t exactly the way you want it, you could change the formatting on each individual slide, but it’s much more consistent and easy to simply make the change once to the Slide Master and let that change trickle down to the individual slides.

To edit the Slide Master, choose View→Slide Master. The slide that appears isn’t an actual slide in your presentation, but rather a template. Or, more precisely, it’s a series of templates — one for each of the different layouts. You can make changes in these two ways, depending on the scope of change you want to make:

  • To make a change that affects every slide, regardless of its layout: Click the top-left slide in the left pane. This top slide is the master for the entire presentation.

  • To make a change that affects only a certain layout: Select that layout’s thumbnail image from the left pane.

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Here are some of the edits you may want to make:

  • Select a different set of fonts from the Slide Master→Fonts list.

  • Change the font used for an individual bullet level by selecting the text sample representing that level and then choosing a different font from the Home tab’s Font drop-down list.

  • Apply a different bullet type to each line of sample text (from the Home tab) to change the bullet characters used at each level.

  • Move a placeholder on the slide by dragging its border.

  • Resize a placeholder by dragging one of its selection handles.

  • Delete, resize, or recolor the background graphic provided by the theme (if any).

When you’re finished working with the Slide Master, choose Slide Master→Close Master View to return to Normal view.

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