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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.


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