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Jan's Working with Presentations

   Format: Templates & Themes

Microsoft PowerPoint tries to make creating and formatting a presentation as easy as possible by providing templates with sample content and themes with layout designs and formatting.


When your brain is blank, a presentation template can spark your thinking. A template is just a presentation that you use create a new presentation with formatted slides that have temporary text and example objects like photos and tables. It does the same thing as saving a presentation with a new name so you can edit it without changing the original.

Advantage: When a presentation is saved as a template, you cannot accidentally change it!

Many templates, like the 'Project Status Report' below at the left, give directions about what you should put in that spot. These truly are a 'template', a pattern to use. Other templates are actually complete presentations, like 'Making Public Speaking Easier' below. In both cases, you replace the text and objects with your own.

Example: template with directions (Project - PowerPoint 2010) Example: Template with full content - Making Public Speaking Easier

TipTemplate applied to existing presentation: Only the presentation's theme is applied. You won't get the temporary text, objects, or suggestions.

Downloading Templates

Icon: Confusion Point of confusion: PowerPoint shows a large number of templates in the New dialog that are not on your computer yet.
Every time you select such a template, it is downloaded  into your temporary Internet files folder. It is not automatically put into a folder to keep on your hard disk. If you want to be able to use the template when you are not connected to the Internet, you should save a copy of a presentation that uses that template to a folder that you can find.

Where's that template?

Templates are listed in the New Presentation dialog in several folders and also in the templates that can be downloaded from Office.com. Once you select a template, a thumbnail of one slide in the presentation shows on the right. It is usually of the title slide but the presentation's author may have chosen a different slide to be the thumbnail.

Dialog: New Presentation > Installed Templates (PowerPoint 2007) File > New > Installed Templates (PowerPoint 2010)
New Presentation: PowerPoint 2007 and 2010

Example of a Template: Training

Let's look at a fairly realistic template, the Training template from Microsoft. It creates 19 slides with temporary text and sample content:

Slide Sorter view (PowerPoint 2007) Note Page for Training title slide

You can see that this is a very general kind of outline for a training session. Some slides offer alternate ways to show the same information, like slide 3 and slide 9. The slides clearly do not include all of the information that you would be giving!

Be sure to look at the Notes for each slide in a template. You may find helpful suggestions and advice!

Adapt a template to suit your own needs. You might need more or fewer topics. A topic might need more than one slide. You must adjust, delete, and add to make this presentation truly useful for your purpose.


Palette of Design Themes (PowerPoint 2010)A theme is a quick way to pick or change the look for a whole presentation - background, fonts, font sizes, bullets, placeholders, etc.

Change theme: Picking a new theme is simple. Select the slides you want to change and open the Design ribbon tab. Then hover over a theme in the Themes palette. In Normal view, Live Preview will change the Slide Pane to show how the theme will affect that slide. Click on the theme you want to use. These are the same themes that you can use in Word, Excel, and Access. It's nice to be able to coordinate all your documents!

Theme changes Masters: If you apply a theme to all of your slides, your Masters are replaced by the ones that are in that theme. If you apply a theme to selected slides or even to just one slide, then the theme's Masters are added to your existing set of Masters.

Browse for a theme: The Browse link at the bottom of the Themes palette opens a dialog where you can browse to other folders for themes or existing presentations.

Icon: Trouble Problem: Applying a theme did not change all selected slides
The theme did not have a Master for the layouts that those slides used. For example, older themes and presentations do not include section header masters, because those are new to PowerPoint 2010.
Solution: Create your own new Master for the layouts that are missing.