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For Seniors: How to Work with Themes in Office 2010

Themes are useful when you want to standardize the formatting across multiple documents or between applications in Office 2010. Themes generally specify settings for fonts, colors, and graphic effects. For example, you may want your résumé and the cover letter that you send with it to be consistent in formatting. Applying the same theme to both ensures that they use the same fonts and colors.

Or, bigger picture, you can use a theme to apply consistent formatting across lots of documents, and even between applications. For example, you could have a Word document that uses the same theme as your PowerPoint presentation on the same subject, so it looks like they match.

You can also apply more specific themes that just cover one of those: font themes, color themes, and effect themes. This is great because it lets you combine the parts of different themes to create your own special look. For example, you might use the fonts from one theme and the colors from another.

Instead of choosing a specific font, color, or graphic effect for an item in one of the Office applications, you can instead choose to apply one of the theme placeholders. A theme placeholder formats the item with whatever definition the current theme specifies. Then if you change to a different theme later, the item changes its appearance.

To apply a theme in Word or Excel, choose Page Layout→Themes and then choose a theme from the menu that appears.

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To apply a theme in PowerPoint, you have two methods:

  • On the Design tab, click one of the samples in the Themes group.

  • On the Design tab, click the down arrow in the Themes group and select a theme from the menu that appears.

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Each theme on the menu has a name, but you can’t get a very good overall sense of a theme without seeing it in action. Fortunately, there’s a quick way to do this. Just hover the mouse pointer over a theme, and the document behind the open menu shows a preview of how the theme will affect it.

Make sure you have some text in the document, in an area that isn’t obscured when the menu is open.

If you apply a theme (or preview one) and it doesn’t seem to have any effect, you probably have specific fonts and/or colors selected that are overriding the theme choices.

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