Unraveling The Complexities Of PowerPoint Slide Masters And Layouts


Microsoft PowerPoint 2007’s slide master feature has been significantly improved. It now offers users very powerful and flexible control over the appearance of related slides within a presentation. To access the slide master, activate the View Tab of the PowerPoint Ribbon and click on the button marked “Slide Master”. There is also a nifty shortcut for switching between normal view and slide master view: hold down the shift key and click on the Normal View icon on the right of the status bar (next to the zoom icons). The slide master is displayed in the pane on the left of your screen along with the associated master slide layouts.

This new arrangement means that users now have two levels of control over the formatting of your slides. You can make changes to the master and, in addition, you can make changes to individual layouts. The two levels are designed to work together and the changes you make at each level will both affect the slides in your presentation. Let’s examine how masters are used in a typical workflow.

Before editing the slide master, it is probably a good idea to decide if a single master will be enough for your presentation. If the presentation is fairly substantial with various sections and/or various speakers, you may need to create several different slide formats. If so, you will probably be better off creating several masters, perhaps completing the first and then duplicating it to get the others. Each master you create will have its own layouts displayed and indented below the master icon.

To edit the master begin by making changes to the master icon itself, the large icon displayed above the layout icons. Typical changes you might make at this stage would include the insertion of a corporate logo, setting the background colour(s) or setting a background image and specifying the format of the slide title and each level of bullet points in the body text.

Next, you can make changes to individual layouts within the master to either complement or contradict the formats on the main master. For example, if you have set up a background colour scheme on the main master, you may want certain layouts to have a different background. To achieve this, click on appropriate layout icon to activate that layout, right-click on the layout and choose “Format Background” from the context menu. If you contradict the background of the main master, the link between the background of that layout and that of the master will be broken: subsequent changes to the background of the master will no longer affect that layout.

You may also need to make changes to elements on layouts because they do not exist on the main master icon. For example, you cannot change the attributes of the subtitle placeholder on the main master; you need to click on the Title Slide layout and change it there.

For more information on Advanced PowerPoint training courses, visit Macresource Computer Training, a UK IT training company offering Advanced PowerPoint Classes at their central London training centre.

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