PowerPoint XP: Creating a Slide Master

Have you ever struggled to format each individual slide in your PowerPoint presentation? It can be tedious and time-consuming to apply colors, fonts, logos, and layouts slide by slide. Fortunately, PowerPoint XP has a handy feature called the Slide Master that makes quick work of formatting.

In this article, I’ll walk you through exactly how to create a Slide Master from scratch in PowerPoint XP. I’ll also share some tips to take your Slide Master use to the next level!

What is a Slide Master?

A Slide Master controls the look and feel of every slide in your presentation. When you make formatting changes to the Slide Master, those updates are automatically applied to all existing slides as well as any new slides you create.

Here are a few of the things you can customize on a Slide Master:

  • Background colors and gradient fills
  • Font styles and sizes
  • Logos, headers, and footers
  • Placeholder sizes and positions
  • Effects like shadow, reflection, and glow

In other words, the Slide Master lets you format once and have those style choices cascade down to all slides. It’s an efficient way to ensure visual consistency across your presentation.

Accessing Slide Master View

To start working with masters, you first need to enter Slide Master view. Here’s how:

  1. Open the presentation file you want to format
  2. Select the View tab on the ribbon
  3. Click the Slide Master button in the Master Views group

When you enter Slide Master view, you’ll see thumbnail images of the Slide Master and various layout masters. Any changes made to these masters will take effect globally on slides linked to them.

Creating a Custom Slide Master

If you don’t like the default slide master provided in PowerPoint XP, you can create your own custom version. Follow these steps:

  • Select the top-level Slide Master thumbnail
  • Delete any placeholder boxes, colors, fonts, etc. you don’t want
  • Add a background image or fill if desired
  • Insert your logo or other graphics
  • Adjust the size, position, and formatting of text placeholders
  • Resize any content boxes as needed

Feel free to get creative and set up your Slide Master exactly how you want it!

Saving Time with Layout Masters

PowerPoint XP features several pre-defined slide layouts, such as Title and Content, that have custom placeholder positions. Rather than editing each layout individually, you can modify the associated Layout Masters in one spot.

For example, say you want all Title and Content slides to have a sidebar image. Just make that change on the Layout Master, and it will automatically apply to every linked Title and Content slide.

Helpful Slide Master Tips

Here are some of my favorite tips for mastering masters in PowerPoint XP:

  • Add slide numbers, dates, footers, or headers to the Slide Master so they appear on every slide
  • Use multiple Slide Masters for different slide groups and themes
  • Preserve unused Layout Masters so you don’t lose that formatting
  • Reset or delete your Slide Master when starting a new presentation
  • Apply colors, styles, and effects with consistency in mind
  • Work in Slide Master view before designing individual slides


As you can see, the Slide Master is an invaluable tool for efficiently managing the look of your PowerPoint presentations. Once you get the hang of creating, editing, and linking masters in PowerPoint XP, you’ll be able to churn out perfectly formatted slides in no time.

So next time you find yourself manually updating slide after slide, try using a custom Slide Master instead. Your future self will thank you!