PowerPoint Slide Master is essentially a template upon which your entire PowerPoint document draws upon. It’s real lifesaver when you’re designing slides because it allows you to set default colours, layouts, and fonts. It also means you can avoid built-in templates.

Creating and customising Slide Masters will speed up your workflow and ensure design consistency across your slides so whenever you click New Slide for example, you use a slide layout that has been designed in the Slide Master. Click Layout in the Home tab and you’ll see the complete library of slide layouts that are in your current Slide Master. To change or edit any of these layouts, enter the Slide Master view. ​

Slide Master Layouts

Go to the View tab in the top menu, then Slide Master. Here you will get the new Slide Master tab menu, which houses all the tools you need to edit the Slide Master. In a new document, you will have the one default Slide Master set. In other documents, you may have several Slide Masters if you have been copying and pasting slides from other PowerPoint files. ​

The first slide in the Slide Master is the layout slide from which your other slide layouts are created, determining text font, size, colour in the Title box in other slides – same goes for body textboxes. If you want to set a consistent text style for your headings and body text, this is where you start. Remaining consistent helps ensure you won’t fall into a common PowerPoint fail.

Anything else you change or add on this slide, such as background slide colour or a logo you put in the corner, will also be reflected across every layout slide. If you want to change or add something on specific individual layout slides, you should edit directly on the layout slides themselves.

Under the Master Slide you’ll see all the layout slides listed in the left thumbnail panel. You will see any changes you made to the Master Slide reflected here. Feel free to edit these layouts as you wish, such as changing textbox sizes, placements, or adding and subtracting other elements. Remember, you can still access any tools in the top menu tabs, so you can design just as you do in the normal slide view, which includes animations and transitions.

Slide Master Menu

Slide Master menu tab at the top of the screen offers a few sets of tools to play with. First category is called Edit Master, which helps you insert and delete new Slide Masters and Layouts.

Insert Slide Master will do just that; add a new Master Slide and subsequent Layout slides to your document. This means that you can pick and choose slide layouts from multiple slide masters in your document later, which can be helpful if you plan on having more than one slide style in your presentation. New Slide Masters means that you can set different theme fonts and colours and layouts for each.

If you just want more layouts, then you can select Insert Layout instead. This will add a new Slide Layout to your current Slide Master that you can edit as you wish. In this menu category, you can also Delete Layouts, or Rename them, which helps organise your Layouts so they’re easy to identify.

The last button in this category is Preserve. When a Slide Master is unpreserved, any unused Slide Layouts in the presentation will automatically delete itself the next time you go into the Slide Master. This can help if you’re trying to clean up your Slide Master view because you have too many Slide Masters and Layouts. But if you don’t want this to happen, then simply clicking Preserve will keep this Slide Master pinned to your document.

The next category is Master Layout. If you are currently on the Master Slide, then this will be the only button available. Click on this to open a popup window where you can check and uncheck various elements that will appear on your Master Slide, such as Titles, Headers and Footers, and Slide Numbers. If you are on a Layout Slide, you won’t be able to access this setting, but you will be able to access the others.

You can choose to check or uncheck Title and Footers depending if you want them to appear on your layout, and also access the Insert Placeholder tool. Inserting Placeholders can be very useful, especially if you are creating a template. Choose to add placeholders for Content, Text, Pictures, Charts, Tables, SmartArt, and Media – which doesn’t add the actual content to the page, but a placeholder into which a user can easily add media in the normal slide view. You can also design and format these as you would any shape or textbox while keeping elements consistent. ​

More Master Slide Functions

Edit Theme is the next category, where you can change the overall look of your Master Slide by selecting a preset Theme or importing your own. ​

Background is where you’ll find the tools to set theme Fonts, Colours and Effects. Setting a Theme Font will change the default font you’ll find at the top of your Font dropdown menus. It also automatically changes any text linked from the previous theme to the new one and can be a quick way to change entire fonts throughout your document.

Setting a new Theme Colours changes the default colour palette you’ll see when changing any colour setting. In the same way, it will also automatically change an element that used colours from the previous Theme Colour to the new one.

Selecting a preset in the Effects settings will change the effect applied to shapes created within the document.

Background Styles is where you can change the colour of the slide background; or open the Format Pane to further customise it by inserting pictures or textures.

Hide Background Graphics lets you hide any elements on the Master Slide that appear in your Slide Layout. For example, if you put a logo on the Master Slide, but don’t want it to appear in a specific layout, checking this box will essentially hide it from view. ​

The last category is Slide Size, where you can adjust and resize the dimensions of your presentation. You can choose preset dimensions or enter your own. ​

To exit, click on the Close Master View button in the last category of that menu, returning you to your normal slide view. ​

To choose and change slide layouts to the new one you created, you can simply select Layout from the Home tab menu, or right click anywhere on the selected slide and click Layout from the menu there. You will be able to see every Slide Master in the document, not just the one you’ve selected. This is where renaming Layouts can be useful since they can be difficult to distinguish from thumbnails. ​

If selecting the new Layout and your textboxes have not changed their formatting or are misaligned, click on Reset Slide and PowerPoint will attempt to revert the slide to the Layout selected. In most cases, it will return text styles and positions to the way it was designed in the Slide Layout of the Master Slide. ​

Remember that any elements that aren’t placeholders will be uneditable in the normal slide view. This can be helpful for elements that you don’t want moving from slide to slide, such as logos. If you are sharing the document with others, this ensures certain objects don’t get accidentally moved or deleted.

In the same way, if you are working on a document and can’t seem to move or edit an object, remember that it is most likely housed in Slide Masters, and will be able to be edited there. If you wish, you can cut and paste that object from the slide master into the normal slide view, which will make it freely editable once again. ​Should your PowerPoint file be operating slowly or with lag, there are numerous ways to improve performance speed or even reduce its file size to make it easier to design and share.

If you need some creative and original templates that are easy to edit and integrate into your design style, check out our free PowerPoint Templates. Download them here.