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. It has formatted slides that have temporary text and example objects like photos and tables. You just have to edit the text and remove or replace the example objects.
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.
Template applied to existing presentation: Only the template's theme is applied. You won't get the temporary text, objects, or suggestions.
The New Presentation dialog or pane shows a number of template thumbnails, but only some of these are installed along with PowerPoint. You can search in the dialog for templates at Office.microsoft.com. PowerPoint 2013 will only show templates that are designed for the 2013 version.
Once you select a template, a thumbnail of one slide in the presentation shows, on the right in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 and in a popup window in PowerPoint 2013. The thumbnail is usually of a title slide. PowerPoint 2013 lets you preview several slides in the template in its popup window, but perhaps not all.
PowerPoint 2013: The popup window shows information about the template including the download size, if it has not been downloaded before. The window also shows any color variations that are available.
Arrow buttons at the bottom advance the preview through various sample slides.
To use the template, click the Create button. If necessary, a download process starts (see next topic).
Point of confusion: PowerPoint shows a large number of templates in the New dialog or pane that are not on your computer yet. They must be downloaded.
Method 1: Download from New dialog (Recommended):
Click on the template's thumbnail and then on Download or Create and the template downloads. PowerPoint immediately creates a new presentation using the template. The template will show in the New dialog as a recently used template for a while.
Search results: What kind of results do you get when using the dialog/pane built-in search box?
PowerPoint 2007, 2010: Templates designed for PowerPoint 2003 through 2013.
PowerPoint 2013: Only templates designed for PowerPoint 2013. Older templates will still work.
Method 2: Download directly from Microsoft:
Go to the web site Office.microsoft.com and select TEMPLATES.
If you want to see only 2013 templates, click the icon for PowerPoint below the banner of examples and use the search box on the page that appears.
To include older templates, do NOT click on the icon for Powerpoint but use the search box at the top of the page. Include 'powerpoint' in your keywords.
Once you spot an interesting template, hover over it to get a choice of actions: View details or Download. Click on Download if you do not need more information.
Follow the prompts in a set of dialogs. Eventually you will have to pick a convenient folder in which to save the template. If your browser allows, pick Open or Run to immediately use the template in PowerPoint. Otherwise, find the saved template in a Computer or File Explorer window and double-click it. PowerPoint creates a new presentation based on the template.
Copy for later: If you want a local copy to use in the future, save a copy of the new unedited presentation as a template (*.potx). PowerPoint should take you to the folder it uses for Custom Office Templates.
Point of confusion: The web site office.com is now dedicated to Office Online, the versions of Office programs that run in a browser window. There are only a few templates available there. You cannot search at office.com currently [April 2014].
Office.microsoft.com is the site for the desktop version of Office.
Let's look at a fairly realistic template, the Training template from Microsoft. It creates 19 slides with temporary text and sample content:
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.
A theme is a quick way to pick or change the look for a whole presentation - background, fonts, font sizes, bullets, placeholders, etc. Picking a new theme is simple.
Change theme: Select the slides you want to change and click on the Design ribbon tab. 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: When you apply a theme to all of your slides, your Masters are replaced by the ones that are in that theme. On the other hand, you can apply a theme to selected slides or even to just one slide, which adds the theme's Masters 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.
Problem: Applying a theme did not change all selected
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 were introduced in PowerPoint 2010.
Solution: Create your own new layouts for the ones that are missing.