What is a slide master?

Slide masters are designed to help you create great looking presentations in less time, without a lot of effort. When you want all your slides to contain the same fonts and images (such as logos), make those changes to the Slide Master.

Basis Title Slide Layout

The best way to explain what a slide master is, is to explain how slide masters, slide layouts, and themes work together. Let’s start with slide masters and then we can move on to themes and slide layouts.

You can change the fonts, add an image, and make other edits to the slide master in Slide Master View. To get to Slide Master View, on the View tab, click Side Master. The master slide is the top slide in the thumb nail pane on the left side of the screen (shown below). The related slide layouts appear just below the slide master.

Slide Master view

When you edit the slide master, all slides that follow that master will contain those changes. However, the majority of changes that you make will most likely be to the slide layouts related to the master.

A few good reasons for using a slide master and the related slide layouts are:

  • You can make widespread style changes to all the slides in your presentation by modifying the layouts and slide master in Slide Master View. Then, when creating your presentation in Normal view, you add new slides that are based on those layouts. You make the change once to the slide master or layout and it applies to all the slides that follow that master and related layouts.

  • When you make changes to layouts and the slide master such as, changing and formatting content (text, videos, pictures, charts, shapes, clip art, a background, etc.) in Slide Master View, other people working in your presentation (in Normal view) can’t accidentally delete or edit what you’ve done.

One final tip: It is a good idea to edit your slide master and layouts before you start to build individual slides. That way all of the slides that you add to your presentation will be based on your custom edits. If you edit the slide master or layouts after you build individual slides, you’ll need to reapply the changed layouts to the existing slides in your presentation in Normal view. Otherwise, you won’t see the changes in your slides.


A theme is a palette of colors, fonts, and special effects (like shadows, reflections, 3-D effects, and more) that complement one another. A skilled designer created each theme in PowerPoint. We make those pre-designed themes available to you on the Design tab in Normal View (shown below), and also on office.com.

Every theme you use in your presentation includes a slide master and a related set of layouts. If you use more than one theme in your presentation, you’ll have more than one slide master and multiple sets of layouts.

Note   Every presentation has a theme — even the slides that appear with no color. That ‘plain’ theme in PowerPoint is called Office Theme. It is the theme, second from the left in the Themes gallery shown below.

Themes gallery on the Design tab

For example, take the Basis theme (the green one on the far left in the Themes gallery above); By looking at that green splotch, you can’t really see the fonts or the effects that are also associated with it, but when you apply it to your slides, you’ll see them.

Note    In the Slide Layouts section, we’ll use the Basis theme to demonstrate how themes, slide masters, and layouts work together.

Slide Layouts

To refresh, each theme contains a slide master. Each slide master has a set of related slide layouts that display the theme colors, fonts, and effects. You change and manage slide layouts in Slide Master View. To get to Slide Master View, on the View tab, click Side Master. The layouts are located beneath the slide master (at the top), in the thumb nail pane on the left side of the screen.

The picture below shows the slide master and two of the ten layouts for the Basis theme.

Slide Master with layouts in Slide Master view

Every theme (and slide master) has a different number of layouts. If you are creating a presentation using the Basis theme, most likely, you won’t use all of the layouts provided. You’ll pick the layouts that best match your slide content, and the others you’ll ignore or delete.

In Normal view, you’ll apply the layouts to your slides (shown below).

Slide Layouts on the Home tab

This this is where layouts, slide masters, and themes work together. Each slide layout is set up differently — with different types of placeholders in different locations on each layout. The designer who creates each theme determines how the slide layouts are arranged, the number of layouts per slide master, and the font, effects, and colors that are used to make up that theme.

For example, every slide master has a related slide layout called Title Slide Layout. However, each theme arranges the text and other object placeholders for that layout slightly differently — and with different colors, fonts and effects. The picture below shows first, the Basis theme’s version of the layout called Title Slide Layout. And to contrast it, the slide layout below it is the Title Slide Layout for the Integral theme.

Basis Title Slide Layout

Integral Title Slide Layout

You can change anything about a layout to suit your needs. When you change a layout, and then go to Normal View, every slide you add after that will be based on this layout and will reflect the changed look of the layout. However, if there are existing slides in your presentation that are based on that layout, you’ll need to reapply the layout to those slides.

More information about slide masters, layouts, and themes

Applies To: PowerPoint 2013

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