How to use and create slide layouts in PowerPoint

Categories: November 4, 2020 Best PracticeTemplates and Theming

In this tutorial we demonstrate how to use and create slide layout designs in PowerPoint.

We also explain why you should consider getting into the habit of using them more often.

What is a slide layout in PowerPoint?

A slide layout design is a pre-configured arrangement of information placeholders on a presentation slide.

This will include placeholders for your title, text, images, and other objects such as charts, tables and footer.

Without maybe realising it, you have already been using layouts in your PowerPoint presentations.

This will have been the Title Slide layout and the Title and Content slide layout that appear as standard when you create a presentation.

image of default slide layouts

However, you may have never ventured past these two slide layouts before and explored the others that are available.

Why should I use slide layouts in PowerPoint?

Using pre-configured layouts in PowerPoint has the benefits of consistency, flexibility and saving time.

Let us look at the benefits of using slide layouts in a bit more detail.

Using slide layouts saves time

Imagine what it would be like to use PowerPoint if every time you created a new slide you were presented with a blank page, and you had to insert all the text boxes you needed manually.

It would slow you down.

Also, imagine if you had a particular non-standard layout in mind for those slides, that would slow you down even further.

There is no doubt that using slide layouts in PowerPoint saves time and allows you to create presentations more efficiently.

Using layouts provides consistency across similar slides

Building on the above point, laying out the elements on each slide individually could cause consistency issues across your slides.

It would be difficult to ensure the placement of titles, images and text boxes where identical across your slides.

This could upset your audience.

I appreciate it’s not as upsetting as a deceased pet, but will drive our OCD colleagues crazy and cause your work to look less professional.

A layout provides the flexibility to change your mind later

I can hear some of you shout “Consistency isn’t an issue for me because I will just duplicate my complicated slide, giving me a nice consistent presentation”.

Yes, that is a half decent approach, and something I was doing for years.

However, duplicating slides prohibits you from enjoying the final benefit of PowerPoint layouts, which is flexibility.

If you use a layout (either a default design or one of your own), you can update that layout in Slide Master at any point during the creation of your presentation.

When you update the layout, it will automatically perform that change on the slides using that layout in your presentation.

So, for example, if you later wish that:

  • Your text boxes were smaller
  • Your images had rounded corners and a thicker border
  • Your titles were a different font and colour

…you can action that across all your affected slides in just a few clicks.

How do I choose and use a slide layout in PowerPoint?

image of choice of layouts

Selecting a slide layout to use is simple.

Select the Layout icon from the Home ribbon.

Choose one of the layouts from the list.

Should I create my own PowerPoint slide layout?

For the most part, many people manage fine using the layouts that come with PowerPoint as standard.

However, it might be time to create your own slide layout if you find yourself repeatedly changing the position of existing layout objects or needing to add new objects (for multiple slides).

How do I create my own PowerPoint slide layout?

1 – Enter Slide Master mode

Slide Master icon

From the main ribbon go to View, then select Slide Master.

2 – Insert a new layout and rename it

Slide Master Insert layout icon

Click the Insert Layout button.

A new slide will appear.

Rename layout box

Right click on the new layout slide and select Rename Layout.

Rename the slide as something meaningful.

3 – Draw your information placeholder boxes

Insert placeholder menu

Add/draw placeholders by selecting Insert Placeholder from the Slide Master menu.

Note: next to the Insert Placeholder icon you will also find checkboxes to show or hide the Title and Footer placeholders.

Example of a new layout

Be sure to use placeholders and NOT standard text boxes (text boxes create static text that you can’t change without being in Slide Master mode).

4 – Exit Slide Master and use your new slide layout

Close slidemaster icon

Exit Slide Master by clicking Close Master View.

image of new layout choices

Your new layout should be available for selection from the Layout list on the Home ribbon.