PowerPoint presentations convey information to an audience in a variety of ways. Content tells a message explicitly with words, charts, and graphics. On a more subtle level, format, color, layout, and other design elements have an effect on the viewer as well. A professional-looking set of slides gives the audience confidence that the presenter is serious and capable of tackling certain business tasks. On the other hand, a whimsical, light touch says the presenter is entertaining or friendly.
Templates by Design
There are as many as 45 design templates supplied with PowerPoint 2000. Some of these templates are installed automatically when the software is installed. Others are available on the program disc and are installed the first time they are requested by the user. These templates define the overall look of slides including such elements as backgrounds, fonts, lines, bullets, and so on. Figure 1 shows the New Presentation dialog box with the Design Template tab active.
Figure 1: The New Presentation Dialog Box
You can select the design template when you create a new PowerPoint presentation. You can also choose a new design template for an existing presentation by clicking the Apply Design Template option on the Format menu.
When you create a new slide for your presentation, all of the design elements are based on the template. Any changes you make to the slide will only apply to that slide. For example, if you change the font for the text in a slide, that will have no effect on the font of the text on other slides. Later in this article you will see how to make changes to the design elements that will affect all of the slides in the presentation.
What’s Your Color Scheme?
The slide in Figure 2 is based on the Capsule design template. As you can see, the background, title text, and text in the table are all in color. The colors the design template selects are based on its color scheme — a set of eight colors that go well together.
Figure 2: Slide uses color scheme of Capsule template
Whenever you try to change the color of an object in the slide, you are given the option of choosing one of the colors in the color scheme. Of course, you can also select a totally different color. Furthermore, PowerPoint keeps track of the last eight colors you selected, so you can keep reusing them for consistency in your slide appearance. In Figure 3, the Format, Font menu option resulted in the display of the Font dialog box. Clicking the Color drop-down arrow shows the eight colors that belong to the color scheme, the last colors selected by the user, and a More colors button that lets you choose any color you want.
Figure 3: Font color scheme and other color options
You can also completely or partially change the color scheme itself. When you change the color scheme, all of the objects in all of the slides that use that scheme change automatically. If you have objects that you specifically assigned to a different color, that object will not be changed. (If you wish you can select several slides while in the Slide View and only change the color scheme for those slides.)
To change the color scheme, click the Slide Color Scheme option on the Format menu. The dialog box that appears has two tabs — Standard and Custom. The Standard tab displays four schemes from which you can select. The Custom tab lets you “tweak” the color scheme. For example, you can change the color of the background, text, titles, etc. Figure 4 illustrates the Color Scheme dialog box, showing all of the elements whose colors you can change.
Figure 4: Design elements whose colors you can change
Picking a Background — Gradient Fill
The background is the color or design that appears behind the text and other objects on the slide. The background option in the scheme is a solid color. But there is another way to change the background that gives you much more dramatic choices. The Format, Background menu opens a simple-looking dialog box. When you click the color drop-down arrow, however, you have a new option — Fill Effects.
There are four tabs in the Fill Effects dialog box. The Gradient tab lets you select one or more colors that blend into each other in various ways. Figure 5 shows you what the Early Sunset preset gradient looks like.
Figure 5: Preset gradient fill
On the left side of the dialog box you choose the number of colors to use in the fill — one, two, or preset. With the one or two color options you pick the colors to be blended. The preset option lets you select one of the 24 different sets of three or more color gradients. The Shading styles section contains six ways that the color set can change — from top to bottom, from left to right, from one corner to another, or from the center to the sides. When you click one of these option buttons, the Variants section displays two or more ways that you can apply the colors and shading styles. Click the one you like and you will see it represented in the Sample box.
Picking a Background — Textures, Patterns, and Pictures
The other Gradient Fill tabs let you create interesting backgrounds, as well. The Textures tab contains 24 backgrounds that resemble stone, cloth, wood, sand, cork, etc. Figure 6 shows a slide using the Blue Tissue Paper texture as a background.
Figure 6: Blue Tissue Paper texture as a background
The Pattern tab lets you mix two colors into a variety of striped, checkerboard, dotted, and other simple patterns. The Picture tab gives you the option of using your own digital pictures as a background for your slides.
There is a simple way to customize the look of your design template and have those changes applied to all of your new and existing slides. The slide master is the slide that controls fonts, sizes, colors, bullet styles, backgrounds, and more. PowerPoint automatically creates a slide master when you select your design template. In addition, the slide master contains placeholders for text, footers, and titles. You can add objects to the slide master, such as artwork or text within a text box.
By the way, most design templates have a second master slide — the title master. You usually create a title slide as the first slide in a presentation or as a slide that introduces a new section or subtopic within your presentation. When you have a title master, your title slides are based on any objects or formats controlled by the title master.
To make changes to a master, click the View, Master menu and then either Slide Master or Title Master. Figure 7 illustrates the window that opens when you decide to edit the slide master.
Figure 7: Slide master windows
The majority of the screen holds the slide master with areas for formatting the title, object, date, footer, and number. The Slide Miniature window lets you see how the whole slide will be affected by your changes as you are making them. A much smaller window contains two buttons — one toggles the display of the Slide Miniature window while the other closes the view of the slide master and brings you back to your previous view.
If you click on any of the areas, you can move, size, or format the text or styles that they will contain on your regular slides. If you double-click an area you get the Format AutoShape dialog box in which you can change colors and lines, positions, and other object properties.
In summary, your presentations can reflect your personal preferences even when they are based on someone else’s design template. You can change individual slides or groups of slides by editing the slides directly, choosing a new design template, or changing the slide master. Whatever method you use, make sure that your presentation reflects the image you are trying to project.