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How to update your PowerPoint master slides

Are your corporate PowerPoint templates out-dated or just messy? Do your teams waste time formatting presentations to spruce them up before client meetings? Updating your presentations using PowerPoint’s Slide Master tool will not only ease your frustrations and save you a lot of time, but aligns your team in the process. A concise, up-to-date template also helps create uniform messaging and a common identity. In this post, we’ll explain how to update your master slides and layouts using PowerPoint’s Slide Master.

What is a Slide Master?

Microsoft describes a Slide Master as “The top slide in a hierarchy of slides that stores information about the theme and slide layouts of a presentation, including the background, color, fonts, effects, placeholder sizes, and positioning”

How to update your master slides in PowerPoint

  1. Open PowerPoint and choose the presentation you need to update

2. In the View tab, click “Slide Master”

View slide master

In this view, you’ll see the master slide at the top, with the layout slides beneath it

Slide master

3. To make changes to all layout slides, edit your master slide. For example, you can change the background, logo, fonts, and place holders

TIP: Now that your presentation is updated, make sure that it is easily accessible.

What is a slide layout?

Microsoft describes a slide layout as containing the “formatting, positioning, and placeholder boxes for all of the content that appears on a slide. Slide layouts also contain the colors, fonts, effects, and the background (collectively known as the theme) of a slide.”

Deleting & Renaming Layouts

1. To remove any layouts that you don’t need in this presentation, simply right-click the slide and select “Delete Layout”

delete layout

2. Where possible, try and maintain a layout naming convention across your masters. As layouts are shared across masters (or used with newer and older masters), if PowerPoint cannot match the layout name, a specific layout in one master will be replaced with a generic layout in another – this may not be ideal.

To name or rename a layout slide, right-click on the layout and click “Rename Layout”

rename layout

For example, you could rename your layout “Table of Contents” instead of a generic term like “Layout 1”.

Rename layout

Edit Placeholders

1. To edit the placeholders on a layout slide, click the layout you want to edit.

In the Slide Master view, click the “Insert Placeholder” dropdown arrow

Insert placeholder

You will see a variety of different placeholder types to choose from. Select the placeholder you’d like to add to your layout

placeholder options

2. Drag the mouse in the area of your slide that you want the placeholder to be. You can insert placeholder text in the box to clearly communicate what the placeholder should be used for

3. To apply the layout updates to a presentation that you are currently editing, click “Close Master View” to go back to the normal view

close master view

4. Select the slide in your presentation that needs an updated layout

5. Under the “Home” tab, click “Insert Layout” and select the layout that should be used

insert layout

The layout should be selected from the “Master” section

master layout

Once you choose the layout you want to use, click it. The slide in your presentation will be updated accordingly

By keeping your master and layout slides up-to-date, your team is more likely to abide by visual identity standards and preserve your brand’s integrity.


Related Articles

Solution: Automatically update old slides

How a slide library can help

Video: Placeholders, Footers & Slide Design

How to make your PowerPoint template accessible

Establishing your PowerPoint template as the default option allows it to be easily accessible to your team and propels efficiency. Communicating with your customers with a consistent brand voice and visual identity can support your growth. Whether you are in sales or marketing, keeping your approved templates a click away will ensure you utilize it. Plus, if you find it difficult to get your team to use your templates, this will make it just that much easier for them. In just a few steps, we’ll explain how to make your company’s template your default in PowerPoint.

What is a custom template? 

A custom template in PowerPoint allows people and organizations to create uniform, on-brand slides. Through PowerPoint’s Slide Master, creators can easily apply headings, fonts, and colors to all slides. This is a great way to maintain slide organization and consistency.

How to make your custom PowerPoint templates accessible 

  1. Create your custom template using Slide Master and save it as a PowerPoint Template (.potx). It will automatically be saved in the “Custom Office Templates” folder

2. Let’s set this custom template as your default when you open PowerPoint. Select “New” and click the “Personal” tab

Using PowerPoint, go to "New" and "Personal"

3. Click the template you want to set as your default

4. In a new window, you’ll see a preview of the template. Click “Create”

Create a new template

5. In the “Design” tab, select the “More” arrow in the “Themes” group and a list of themes will appear

6. Right-click your custom theme under the “Office” section and select “Set as default theme”. Every time you open PowerPoint, this will be your theme

Set your template theme as your default theme

Whether you’re just starting out in the world of PowerPoint or you’re an experienced pro, making sure your custom templates are right at your fingertips will boost your efficiency and uniformity. In addition, take into account the size of your template as well. Large templates weigh down your files, so creating a separate library of slides that are not included in your base template can help simplify your template. Consider a slide library solution to manage slides that you want to share with your team but don’t belong in your template.


As you are exploring how to step up your PowerPoint game, consider checking out the following articles:

3 Reasons Your Slide Library Needs a PowerPoint Add-In

How to create a custom template in PowerPoint

Where are the PowerPoint files that drive your slide library?