PowerPoint Tip – Create a Better PowerPoint Template

PowerPoint’s default blank template is annoying! It really needs work. And with more and more people using white backgrounds, you’re probably using the blank template more often. Here’s what to do to make a better template.

Here are the steps:

1. Open a new presentation file, which uses the default blank template. In 2007, it’s the default blank theme.

2. Press Shift and click the Normal view icon to enter the slide master. Note: In PowerPoint 2007, to change the slide master for all layouts, click the larger layout at the top and format that. (Formatting an individual layout only affects that layout.)

3. Titles are usually centered by default; and because they are different lengths, their left side is different for each slide. It’s better to left-justify the titles and they’ll stay in the same place and give the magical appearance of changing without moving. Click in the title placeholder, and click the Align Left button on the Format toolbar. (In PowerPoint 2007, right-click in the title placeholder, and click the Mini toolbar’s Align Text Left button.) You may want to left justify the title slide also keynote templates.

4. Some titles are 1 line and others are 2 lines. You’ll see the titles jump down when you display a 2-line title after a slide with a 1-line title. Instead, give them a vertical justification of bottom and that bottom left corner will stay steady. Double-click the placeholder to open the Format Placeholder dialog box. On the Text box tab, set the Text Anchor Point to Bottom. Click OK. (In 2007, right-click the placeholder and choose Format Shape. Click the Text Box category and set the Vertical alignment to Bottom. Click Close.)

5. By default, titles are in Title case, which means that the first letter of most words is capitalized. The initial cap slows down reading; I suggest using Sentence case, in which only the first word of the title is capitalized. This isn’t a setting; just avoid capitalizing all the words in the title.

6. When setting the font size for titles, if some of your titles will be long, make the text size smaller. The title text doesn’t need to be much bigger than the slide text. The default is 44, which severely limits the amount of text you can fit. I suggest using 40- or even 36 if your titles are very long. Select the text and use the Formatting toolbar (mini toolbar in PowerPoint 2007) to change the font size.

7. Another thing you can do if your titles are long is to make the text placeholders wider. You can drag one “notch” to the left and to the right.

8. Since you should have some idea of the color of your background, make sure that your title and body text is legible against it. Very legible. Use black or dark blue text against light backgrounds and yellow or white text against dark backgrounds.

9. Delete the 4 levels of sub-bullets; you should never use them.

10. Get rid of the footers, too, they just distract from your main point and are too small to read any way. Just select and delete. If you want slide numbers, though, leave the bottom right footer. Move it way over to the right. You now have room to make the slide text placeholder larger by dragging its bottom edge down.

When this is done, save the result as a template so that you won’t have to make these changes again. Here’s how:

1. Return to Normal view.

2. Click the Save icon.

3. From the Save as Type drop-down list, choose Design Template (PowerPoint Template). The folder should automatically switch to the default Templates folder.

4. To keep the default template, insert a name in the File Name text box. I use MyBlank.

5. Click Save.

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