PowerPoint 2016: Applying Themes

What are Themes in PowerPoint?

A theme in PowerPoint is a set of predefined design elements that provides a unified look and feel to your presentation. Themes allow you to quickly customize the overall appearance of your slides by changing colors, fonts, effects, and background styles.

Some key things to know about themes:

  • Themes contain coordinated colors, fonts, and graphics that are professionally designed to look good together
  • They provide pre-built slide layouts like titles, text slides, pictures slides etc.
  • Built-in themes are available in PowerPoint under the Design tab
  • You can also create custom themes and save them for reuse

Benefits of using Themes

  • Gives a professional and consistent look
  • Saves time compared to formatting slides individually
  • Easy to update theme across all slides at once
  • Variants allow quick color and style changes
  • Custom themes can be reused for other presentations

How to Apply Themes in PowerPoint

Applying a theme in PowerPoint is very easy. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the presentation file
  2. Go to the Design tab
  3. In the Themes section, hover over the different thumbnails to preview the theme
  4. Click on a theme to apply it

Applying Themes in PowerPoint

The selected theme will be applied to all the slides, changing the colors, fonts, graphics etc.

To view more themes that are available, click on More in the Themes section. This will bring up a full gallery of built-in themes to choose from.

Applying Themes to Specific Slides

Themes are applied to all slides by default when selecting a theme. To apply a theme to only certain slides:

  1. Select the slides you want to apply the theme to
  2. Right click on the theme in the Themes gallery
  3. Choose Apply to Selected Slides

This will apply that theme only to the chosen slides, leaving the rest unchanged.

Modifying an Existing Theme

While built-in themes provide good starting points, you may want to customize a theme further to meet your needs. There are a couple of ways to modify themes:

1. Using Theme Variants

Every theme has 4 default variants that provide easy customization options:

  • Colors – Changes the color scheme
  • Fonts – Changes the text fonts
  • Effects – Changes graphic effects
  • Background Styles – Changes background graphic/color

To access the variants, go to Variants ➜ More in the Design tab.

2. Customizing Theme Elements

For more advanced formatting, you can edit the individual theme elements like:

  • Text & Background Colors
  • Fonts (Headings & Body)
  • Graphic Effects
  • Background Graphics

To customize elements, go to Variants ➜ More and choose the element you want to change. This will bring up formatting options to alter that specific element.

3. Using Slide Master View

For wholescale changes to the theme, use Slide Master view. This contains the master slides that hold the theme formatting and layouts. Any changes made here will apply to all slides.

To access Slide Master view, go to View ➜ Slide Master

Saving a Custom Theme

Once you have customized a theme to your requirements, you can save it for reuse within PowerPoint:

  1. Go to the Design tab
  2. Click on the Themes icon
  3. Choose Save Current Theme
  4. Give the theme a name and save

The saved custom theme will appear in the theme gallery under Custom Themes and can be applied just like the built-in themes.

Applying Themes from Other Office Files

An unique feature of PowerPoint is that you can apply themes from Word, Excel or other Office documents. Just click on Browse for Themes in the theme gallery to browse and select the file containing the theme you want.

This allows you to keep a consistent theme across different Office files.

Tips for Using Themes Effectively

Here are some tips to use themes effectively in your PowerPoint presentations:

  • Pick themes early – Choose a theme at the start rather than after content creation
  • Use 2-3 themes max – Don’t keep changing themes often in a single presentation
  • Check handouts – See how the theme looks when printed to handouts
  • Monitor brand consistency – Make sure the theme aligns with your brand colors and fonts
  • Use theme variants – Take advantage of built-in variants to quickly change look
  • Customize thoughtfully – Don’t over customize themes from their intended design


Themes and templates provide an easy way to create professional presentations in PowerPoint. Built-in themes give you good starting points while custom themes allow for deep customizations.

Use themes judiciously, modify them thoughtfully for your needs, and your presentations will stand out with cohesive designs that enhance your message!