Creating a PowerPoint from scratch can be quite labour-intensive. Starting with a PowerPoint template is beneficial. It saves time, provides good visual design and means that you can primarily spend your time and attention on the content of your presentation.
What is a PowerPoint Template?
A PowerPoint template consists of ready-made slides that you can repurpose to suit your needs. Instead of having to design a full presentation from the get go, you have access to professionally designed slides that you can freely edit, adding your content, and customizing to your presentation needs.
PowerPoint templates save you time, as they’re a whole lot quicker than trying to design a deck from scratch. Also, starting with a template means that you can primarily spend your time and attention on the content of your presentation, while the visual style is already designed to be engaging.
Typically, the only elements that are changed while working with a PowerPoint template are colors, typography, copy and any visual assets such as photos for example.
Now let’s walk through the process of how to create a PowerPoint presentation from a quality PPT template. The first step up is preparation.
Most of the work while creating a business presentation occurs before you fire up PowerPoint.
When creating a presentation, you want to achieve an objective. For example, you might need to present the results of your department for the last quarter in the form of a presentation to your colleagues. Or, you could be seeking funding and looking to impress potential investors with your business pitch presentation. Know what your presentation is aiming to communicate and accomplish.
Getting the Content Right
To achieve your objective, everything begins with the content you’ll put in the presentation. Ideally, it’s brief and crystal-clear. Typically, the less content (by sticking to key facts and figures) the more digestible your presentation is.
To save time, it’s much smarter to revise content while you’re still preparing it (such as in Word or any other text processor) instead of making content changes while designing.
Once you feel confident about your content preparation, it’s time to design your presentation in PowerPoint.
Designing Your Presentation
For our tutorial, we’ll be using the Summit PPT template. We’ll show you how to use the template to customize slides for your business presentation.
In the Summit template, there are a number of different themes you can use. For this tutorial, I’ll be using the Business theme and I’ve chosen the Blue color scheme:
As you can see below, you can choose other colors and themes depending on your preferences. Before you get started, notice in the theme description (or the readme file) if you need to install any fonts. The fonts are either directly included in the template, or you might need to visit a URL to download them.
In any template you download, always take a look at initial requirements in an accompanying text file or their online description prior to starting. Not having the right font installed for example, might mess up the layout of the template slides.
0. Getting Started
First, let’s duplicate the theme. You can achieve this by right-clicking on the .pptx file and clickingDuplicate in the menu. If that shouldn’t work, you can also copy and paste the file and rename the new document.
Instead of directly editing the template, we’ll be copying slides which we will use in our new document from the original theme file. This way, we’re not editing the template source in which you would need to delete or hide slides you don’t use.
Now lets review how to edit this PowerPoint template for your presentation.
1. The Basics
To learn the basics, let’s start with an opening slide. For the purpose of this tutorial, I’ve decided to go ahead with slide 2 of the business theme. As you can see, there are a few components on the slide that we can change according to our needs. At a first sight, we notice the following components available to us:
- Background image
- Footer text
I’d advice you to always look at the available components in a slide design as you’re glancing over the different slides within a theme. This has a few benefits:
- You can identify how your content can fit the deck’s structure.
- You can decide on the components you like (or dislike).
- You’ll notice a pattern in the slide designs.
Now that we understand the components we can change to suit our needs, let’s move ahead and start designing.
Open the original template file first. In the slide overview panel on your left, right-click and Copy slide 2. Next, Paste it in your new PowerPoint file which acts as your working file. Remember, we’ll be making all changes in our personal PowerPoint file instead of updating the template.
Removing Slide Components
For this example, I’ll be making a simple slide to introduce the topic of this presentation. I’ve decided I don’t need a footer text nor the paragraph text underneath the title. Simply click on each Text Box and use Backspace to delete the components from the slide. Should you ever want to add them again, you can use the top toolbar to add text boxes, images and other assets such as shapes and graphs.
Download a photo you’d like to use and drag the image into the slide. Of course, important to notice is that the photo is high enough in resolution (as a general rule, never aim for an image which has less than 1600 pixels in width or the quality might be poor).
As you notice, because of the background image the title becomes illegible. Luckily, this is something we can solve fairly easily. Double-click on the image. As you see, a right panel appears which consists out of different tabs. Click on the Picture Tab. Within the picture tab, expand the Picture Transparency option. Change the Transparency to 70%.
Let’s add some finishing touches. Click on the title to change it’s text, remove the placeholder logo using backspace and drag in the logo of your company. Should you have any issues with the formatting, double-click on the image.
In the top toolbar, there’s a Crop button, with a dropdown next to it. When you click on the dropdown menu, there’s a Fit option. The fit option helps you fit a logo within a constrained box for example, while the Fill option is useful to cover a constrained box (for example, when using a background image).
We’re all set!
2. Master Slides
Now that you have a sense of how you can edit a template slide, let’s dive into using PowerPoint’s Master Slides.
One of the basic type of slides which makes part of most decks is a simple but elegant text slide. In our theme, I’ve picked Slide 25. Copy and Paste the new slide from the template file into our working document.
Fixing or Changing Slide Layouts
On certain occasions, the original formatting might change when you copy from the template into your working document. Depending on the theme, this might be how the slide layout is structured. If this happens, it is easy to fix.
Within the original theme document, click on the slide in the slide overview. Make sure that in your top toolbar, the Home tab is open. Click on the Layout dropdown menu and notice which slide layout is being used. Next, make sure that the Layout of the same slide in your working document is the same.
In this slide, we have the opportunity to include some text, as well as add some graphics.
As easy as it was to change images and text in the introduction slide, let’s go ahead and change the content in this slide as well.
But wait! You might notice that you can’t click on certain components within the slide. For example, you can’t change the logo nor the subtitle. This is because they’re set in a Master Slide.
The easiest way to explain a Master Slide is to think of a boilerplate which forms the foundation for your slide designs.
Of course, we can tweak this according to our needs. In the top toolbar, click on the View tab. Now, you’ll notice a Slide Master button.
When you click on it, you’ll see your slide design and the placeholder areas. As you try and click on the logo and subtitle, you notice that they aren’t selectable and thus not changeable.
This is normal, as a master slide can have a Master Layout. Basically, master slides can use a master layout which is used in a group of master slides.
Let’s access the master layout by looking at our master slide overview in the left panel and scrolling all the way up until we see the slide on top of the group. This is the slide which contains the master layout.
In this slide, you can change the logo and the subtitle. As you’ll change this, you’ll notice the child master slides updating as well. Click the Close Master button in the top toolbar to save your changes.
You’ll notice that the elements you couldn’t edit have now updated and are changed in the deck design.
Images Within Shapes
The final tricky part is updating images within a shape. When you click on the graphic on the right, you’ll notice it’s a shape which has multiple select areas. You can double-click on the image placeholderswithin the shape to open a modal in which you can select the image you’d like to add to the shape.
With that, we’re all set to complete this slide!
3. Final Tips
As you notice, navigating your way through a theme design is very accessible.
What you need to keep in mind though is that there’s a distinction between your slide design, which uses placeholders, and recurring components, which you can’t edit directly in the slide but can change in the corresponding Master Slide. If you can’t access it in the original master slide, this means there’s a parentMaster Slide which uses a Master Layout and that is being used by multiple master slides. This allows for a consistent design across multiple presentation files.
As a quick overview, the ideal process to edit a template is the following:
- Copy and paste the slides you plan on using from the original template into a new working document you’ll save separately.
- Make edits to each slide you work with. Start with placeholders, then change the corresponding Master Slide if needed. Of course, you can add and remove text, images and charts as you please.
- You might notice that your changes to the Master Slide affect your other pasted slides, which is good as then you only need to update the placeholders, which saves time.
- Do a final check if everything looks solid and you’re all set!
For a more comprehensive dive into using PowerPoint’s Master Slides, see our detailed tutorial on the subject: