Getting Started With PowerPoint Design

So you have decided to start using PowerPoint to promote your business. How do you choose and set up the design you want to use? Here’s how:

Even though the Design tab isn’t the first on the tool bar, it’s the easiest way to get your PowerPoint presentation started. Choosing a template, colors and optional design elements is much easier to do first, before you start adding the text to each slide.

To start a new presentation, just open up PowerPoint and a blank, default slide will appear. This is the Title Slide. This is your blank slate where you can let your imagination run wild.

Design Menu

Powerpoint Design Menus

Page Setup allows you to change the size of the slide and the Slide Orientation allows you to make your slides portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal).

There are many preloaded Themes available in PowerPoint and if you don’t have the time or desire to design your own layouts from scratch, these are fantastic, ready-made options. Even more design options are available at Microsoft’s website. Whichever pre-loaded theme you choose, you can customize it by choosing one of the color palettes, changing the fonts, or adding effects to the theme. This is where it’s really best to spend some time experimenting with your different options and seeing which design and color options works best for you.

The Background menu allows you to create a custom background, using color gradations, textures, patterns or photo backgrounds.

PowerPoint Background Menu

Choosing a Template

If you are a PowerPoint newbie or someone who does not have any design experience, go directly to the Design menu and select a pre-loaded template. When you hover over each of the template icons, you will see your blank slide change to the selected design and color. This is a great way to preview each pre-set template before committing to the design.

To select a template, hover your mouse over any of the designs to see the preview.

PowerPoint Templates

If you’re happy with the look of the template, click Save and you will notice the template shows up in the smaller left hand sidebar.

PowerPoint Chosen Template

Choosing Colors & Fonts

After you choose your preset template, you can start to customize the design even more. In the Design tab, click on the Colors link and you will see a dropdown box filled with preset color palettes.

Choosing Colors and Fonts in PowerPoint

When you mouse over each color selection, you will see the colors change in the preview screen while the design in the left sidebar reflects the default color choice.

Color change preview screen powerpoint

If you don’t like the pre-designed color schemes you can opt to create your own. Just select “colors” from the themes submenu and “create new theme colors” from the dropdown menu. Now select the colors for your text, your background, and your hyperlinks. You’ll see a preview in the box to the right. Be sure to name your custom color scheme then click save.

pre-designed color schemes

Changing the fonts on each of the slide layouts is just as easy as changing the colors. Click the Fonts link and hover over each font with your mouse to see the preview.

PowerPoint Slide Layouts

Click the font of your choice and save the project. The beauty of this process is you only have to make these changes once and ALL the layouts for the chosen theme will change only for this project. When you open up PowerPoint another time, all the default information for that theme will be intact.

One note: if you want to add an image into your template design, you go through this process as described above but then click the View tab. Click Slide Master.

Slide Master

Choose the slide layout where you want the image to appear. Click Insert > Photo and then choose your image from your hard drive.

Changing Background In PowerPoint

Once the image appears you can resize and reposition the image. Exit out of Master View and you will see your new image every time you choose that particular slide layout.

Your New Image Background Powerpoint
Save

There are about 40 built-in templates that come with your edition of PowerPoint covering a wide range of design types and colors.

built-in templates PowerPoint

You may also choose to go to Microsoft.com via the link in the dropdown box to choose additional themes online. Some are made by Microsoft and others are user made. If you have a larger budget, you can hire a graphic designer to create a custom made PowerPoint design template.

Modifying Backgrounds

Another way to add customization and your company branding to your slide show is to modify the background of your slides. Not only can you add your company colors but you can also add your logo or another brand image to the background of each slide.

From the Design tab, click Background Styles in the upper right corner. Select a premade style (12 style options) or format a custom background by choosing “format background”.

modifying backgrounds PowerPoint

You may also choose to go to Microsoft.com via the link in the dropdown box to choose additional themes online. Some are made by Microsoft and others are user made. If you have a larger budget, you can hire a graphic designer to create a custom made PowerPoint design template.

The Custom Background Options include:

Solid Fill

This option allows you to change the color of the background with another solid color. There is a small paint can icon which opens up a palette of color choices. Click on your color and see the immediate change.

solid fill powerpoint background
On the color transparency scale, a setting of 0 will give you the boldest, darkest color. If you slide the scale upwards toward 100, you will see the color fading. You also have the option of hiding background graphics. If you like the change and want it on all your slides, select Apply to All. If the change is just for one slide, click Close. And if you fooled around too much and really hate your background creation, click Reset Background and it will go back to the default.

One note: if you chose a template design that already has gradients, those gradients will remain intact, with only the color changing.

Gradient Fill

Another option for customizing your background is choosing a gradient fill. A gradient means that your chosen color will appear lighter or darker at certain points on the slide, almost like it’s fading in or out of view. This can be selected from the preset colors or by customizing the colors to your specifications. Make sure the gradient fill radio button is selected, hide background graphics if you wish by checking off the box, click preset dropdown menu and make your selection.

Gradient Fill PowerPoint Backgrounds

You can preview your selection in the main window and in the left side column. No selection is permanent until you click “apply to all” so feel free to experiment.

Next you can choose the type of gradient – Linear, Radial, Rectangular, Path or Shade from Title. Again the best way to see what these do to your slide is to try them all. You can also select which direction you want it to start – corner, middle, bottom, or top using the “Direction” dropdown menu or by selecting the angle.

You can add or remove gradient stops as well as add or subtract transparency. If you don’t like what you came up with, select “reset” background and it will revert to your original background. Once your slide background looks perfect click “apply to all”. This background will be set to all your slides.

Picture Fill

You can set a photo from your hard drive as the background to your slide. Make sure the picture or texture fill radio button is selected and then click on “file”. Select the photo you want to use from your computer, and click open.

Picture Fill Backgrounds PowerPoint

You will have to stretch the photo to fit your slide by increasing or decreasing the percentages. (Left, bottom, right, top)

Picture Background Percentages

You can make your photo transparent by sliding the transparency slider. This is key because there will be text overlaying each slide. If you have a full-color photo with competing text on top of it, you will have a mess that no one can read. Adjust the photo transparency scale so it resembles a faded watermark; then the text will be more visible and won’t be competing with your background image.

You also have the option of recoloring the picture and adjusting the brightness and contrast. PowerPoint has some preset coloring options you can choose. Click on Background Styles > Picture Color > Recolor. You can see a preview of your options.

recoloring the picture and adjusting the brightness and contrast

Set contrast and brightness if you need to. If you don’t like what you’ve done just click reset background and your photo will go back the original. To make changes permanent select Apply to All and the background will apply to all your slides.

Texture Fill

To add texture to your background, select the texture dropdown menu. Choose from the provided textures, click to select, choose transparency and any custom tiling options you might want. If you have your own texture or pattern, save it on your computer and then upload it following the same instructions as the Picture Fill above.

Add texture to PowerPoint Background

Pattern Fill

Choosing this option brings up several preloaded patterns to choose from, including stripes, checkerboards and bricks. You have the option of choosing a foreground and background color; just remember the same tips as we discussed earlier. If your background image or color is too dark or contrasting, it will be very difficult to see your slide text so choose wisely.

Pattern Background PowerPoint

Be sure to click “Apply to All” when you are done to make changes to all your slides.

There are plenty of ways to customize the appearance of your slide. Don’t let the amount of choices overwhelm you. Start out with the ones provided by PowerPoint and as you get comfortable using the software you can experiment with the various options.

On the color transparency scale, a setting of 0 will give you the boldest, darkest color. If you slide the scale upwards toward 100, you will see the color fading. You also have the option of hiding background graphics. If you like the change and want it on all your slides, select Apply to All. If the change is just for one slide, click Close. And if you fooled around too much and really hate your background creation, click Reset Background and it will go back to the default.

One note: if you chose a template design that already has gradients, those gradients will remain intact, with only the color changing.

The Custom Background Options include:You may also choose to go to Microsoft.com via the link in the dropdown box to choose additional themes online. Some are made by Microsoft and others are user made. If you have a larger budget, you can hire a graphic designer to create a custom made PowerPoint design template.

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