PowerPoint Tips: Slide and Title Masters

By Helen Bradley | Posted February 14, 2008

Whatever tools you can find to speed up your day’s work are tools well worth owning. PowerPoint has its share of features that reduce the time it takes to create and format a presentation, but some of these are well hidden. For example, PowerPoint masters can help you control the look of the slides in your presentations. In this article I’ll show you what  masters are and how you can use them to save time and avoid repetitive formatting.

What is a PowerPoint Master?
A PowerPoint master is a slide that contains everything that appears by default on all the slides in the presentation: the background image, header and footer details and the placement and size of placeholders and text formats.
PowerPoint master screen shot
Slide masters contain the default formatting for all the slides in your presentation.
(Click for larger image)
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The formatting applied by default to the text on a PowerPoint slide is the formatting described on the PowerPoint slide master. You can edit the Slide master to set the default appearance anyway you like. For example, you can configure the Slide master so that it formats slide titles with Verdana font, 24 point, bold, blue color. When you do this, all the slides in the presentation will have a title formatted in this way.

Of course you can change the title formatting for a single slide by changing it on that slide. However, by specifying a default format on the slide master, you won't waste time repetitively formatting each slide one-by-one.

In addition, if you later decide that you want to use Georgia font instead of Verdana, you can change the font on the slide master and every slide in the presentation that hasn't been formatted individually will change automatically to match the slide master format.

Work with the Master
To see how a PowerPoint Slide Master works, create a new presentation based on a design template or open an existing presentation that is based on a template. Choose View > Master > Slide Master to open the slide master view of the presentation. On the far left of the screen are one or two thumbnails. Every slide will have a slide master and some will also have a title master – there's no hard and fast rule about whether a presentation has both or not.

The slide master is used to format all slides in the presentation except title slides, which are formatted using the title master format, if the presentation has a title master. Every slide presentation has at least a slide master. Click on the slide master to view it in the edit area. The formatting that appears on the slide master is, by default, applied to all the slides in your presentation. You can click an element such as the master title style and make changes to it by selecting a different font or some other attribute from the formatting toolbar.

PowerPoint logo screen shot
Add your company logo to your slide master, and it will appear on all the slides in your presentation.
(Click for larger image)
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Across the bottom of the slide master you'll find areas you can set to display the date, time, footer text and the page number on each slide. If you don't plan to use them, you can remove the placeholders from the Slide master.

You can also change the slide master background, and you can add an image to the Slide master -- your company logo, perhaps -- so that it appears automatically on all the slides in your presentation. When you do this, be careful about where you put the image.

The content you place on the slide master sits on the bottom layer of the actual slides, and you can't alter its layering. That means any other elements you may add later, such as text or photo boxes, can obscure elements on the master slide level.

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