How to Change the Background of PowerPoint Slides

Giving a PowerPoint presentation is nerve-wracking enough without having to worry about lackluster design. An attractive, professional-looking slide deck can make all the difference in how well your ideas and information are received.

One of the easiest ways to elevate your next PowerPoint presentation is by customizing the slide backgrounds. The default white background can appear dull and dated—failing to capture your audience’s interest.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to change PowerPoint slide backgrounds in a few quick clicks. We’ll also cover some best practices for selecting colors, images, and textures that complement your content.

Why Customize Your Slide Backgrounds?

Before jumping into the “how”, let’s look at a few key reasons to customize your PowerPoint slide backgrounds:

  • Make a memorable first impression: Unique, creative backgrounds make your presentation pop compared to default templates.
  • Reinforce brand identity: Incorporate your brand colors and images for a cohesive, professional look.
  • Enhance visual interest: Well-chosen backgrounds add aesthetic appeal and help focus viewer attention.
  • Set the tone: Colors and textures can evoke certain moods and emotions in your audience.
  • Increase information retention: Interesting visuals help reinforce key messages and ideas.

Step 1: Select a Base Slide Layout

Start by opening your PowerPoint presentation and navigating to the “Design” tab. Here you’ll find various pre-made slide layouts to choose from.

Select a simple base layout with plenty of negative space to showcase a background image or texture. The “Blank” layout works well, or you could try a minimalist layout with a shape or border.

Avoid busy templates with multiple content placeholders, as these tend to compete visually with customized backgrounds.

Step 2: Format the Slide Background

Now let’s look at how to apply colors, gradients, images and textures across one or multiple slides:

  1. Select the slide(s) to modify: Click the slide thumbnail(s) on the left that you want to format. To apply changes to all slides, skip this step.
  2. Access formatting options: Select the “Design” tab and click “Format Background” in the “Customize” group.
  3. Choose a background fill: Pick from solid colors, gradients, images, and textures. Select options to match your brand or theme.
  4. Adjust options: For images, adjust transparency or use artistic effects. For colors, select custom hues.
  5. Apply changes: Click “Apply” to see changes on selected slides or “Apply to All” for global changes.

Step 3: Work With Slide Masters

For advanced customization options across your entire presentation, work with Slide Masters. Think of these as the “templates” for all layouts and slides within your deck.

To access the Slide Master:

  1. Go to “View” tab and select “Slide Master”
  2. Select the top “Slide Master” layout to make global changes
  3. Customize backgrounds, add logos, change font schemes, and more
  4. Click “Close Master View” when finished

Any changes made will cascade down to all individual slides for cohesive formatting.

Best Practices for PowerPoint Backgrounds

When selecting colors, images, and textures to use across your presentation backgrounds, keep these best practices in mind:

Use high resolution images that don’t appear blurry or pixelated when projected. Anything from your brand assets, stock photos, or original images can work beautifully.

Pick a color palette that aligns with your brand identity and sets the desired tone. Light backgrounds typically work best for text visibility.

Always maintain strong contrast between slide backgrounds and text or overlaying design elements. White or light gray text on dark backgrounds provides excellent contrast.

Avoid overly complex or busy backgrounds as these tend to compete with other slide content. Use simple, clean backgrounds behind minimalist slide layouts.

Be consistent with backgrounds across slides. Use the same image or alternating color scheme on all slides for a cohesive flow.

Use backgrounds purposefully to complement your content or message. Don’t select images arbitrarily.

Balance negative space around edges for easy viewing and text placement. Don’t overcrowd slides or bleed images end-to-end.

Present Like a Pro with Custom Slide Backgrounds

With this quick guide under your belt, you’re ready to create sleek, modern PowerPoint presentations that captivate audiences.

Ditch the dated default templates and elevate your message with customized backgrounds applied in just minutes.

Whether building presentations for work, school, or your side hustle, take the extra time to polish your slides with beautiful colors, images, textures, and creative layouts. The difference is noticeable, and your viewers will thank you.

Now that you know how to customize PowerPoint slide backgrounds, what design will you try first for your next presentation? Have fun exploring different options and developing your own signature presentation style!