Change Background Styles in the Slide Master in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

In PowerPoint 2016, the Slide Master influences the layout and look of all slides in your presentation. Make changes to the Slide Master and those changes reflect on your presentation slides. For example, you can apply another Background Style so that all Slide Layouts and slides in your presentation use this changed slide background. In this tutorial, we will explore how you can choose from any of the 12 available Background Styles to apply to the Slide Master.

Note: You can also have more than one Slide Master in your presentation, and any of those multiple Slide Masters can influence the actual slides following that master in your presentation.

Follow these steps to learn more:

1. Start with a Blank Presentation

Launch PowerPoint. You will see the Presentation Gallery here. Select the Blank Presentation option to open a new presentation with a blank slide. Typically the new presentation has Office Theme applied. If your presentation is using another Theme, apply the Office Theme since this is a basic and clean Theme that lends itself best to changes and edits that we discuss later in this tutorial. If you do not know how to apply a Theme, explore our Applying Themes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel 2016 tutorial.

Blank presentation with Office Theme applied
Figure 1: Blank presentation with Office Theme applied

2. Access Slide Master View

Now, access the View tab of the Ribbon and click the Slide Master button, as shown highlighted in red in Figure 2.

Slide Master button
Figure 2: Slide Master button

3. Slide Master and Slide Layouts

This opens Slide Master view, as shown in Figure 3. Here, within the left pane you’ll find one large slide thumbnail that represents the Slide Master. We have selected this Slide Master as shown in Figure 3 (indicated by the orange highlight). Below the Slide Master are several smaller slide thumbnails. These represent individual Slide Layouts. For now, do understand that changes made to the Slide Master influence its Slide Layouts — and in turn, this influences all slides within your presentation that are following that Slide Master.

Slide Master view

Figure 3: Slide Master view

Note: In hierarchy terms, Slide Layouts are dependent for their appearance on the Slide Master although you can individually override these dependencies.

4. Access Background Styles

Now, make sure that the Slide Master is in selected status as shown in Figure 3, above and click the Background Styles button (highlighted in blue within Figure 3).

5. Choose a Background Style

This brings up the Background Styles drop-down gallery with 12 default slide background styles shown highlighted in red within Figure 4. Click on the style of your choice to apply it to the Slide Master. In Figure 4, you can see the Style 11 being selected. Also, you will see a live preview of the Background Style applied on the active slide (not shown in Figure 4).

Background Styles drop-down gallery
Figure 4: Background Styles drop-down gallery

Note: These 12 default styles change when you apply a different Theme to your presentation. Also, do you see the Format Background and Reset Slide Background options (highlighted in blue within Figure 4) below the Background Style thumbnails? These options are explained in our Custom Backgrounds in the Slide Master in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial. The Reset Slide Background option is meant for individual Slide Layouts — it is used to reset the slide background to its original status, on a particular slide layout.

6. Preview New Background Style

This will apply the selected Background Style to the Slide Master and all the Slide Layouts belonging to the selected Slide Master as well, as shown in Figure 5 (compare with Figure 3 shown earlier on this page).

Background Style changed within the Slide Master view
Figure 5: Background Style changed within the Slide Master view

7. Back to Normal View

Click the Close Master View button (highlighted in red within Figure 5, above). This will get you back to Normal view, where you can see the new Background Style applied to all your slides.

Save your presentation often.

Note: Do you want to use a background for your Slide Master that’s not part of Background Styles – maybe something you created or even a picture? You can learn how to do that in our Custom Backgrounds in the Slide Master in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial.


About the Author

Geetesh BajajGeetesh Bajaj is an internationally acclaimed PowerPoint, storyboarding, info-diagramming and presenting expert who has been awarded the Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) every single year for 16 years now. As an MVP, Geetesh interacts and collaborates with the Microsoft PowerPoint product development team.

He is also on the Board of Directors for the Presentation Guild, a presentation industry trade association, based out of Cincinnati, USA.

Based out of Hyderabad, India, he believes that any presentation is a sum of its elements—these include abstract elements like story, concept, color, interactivity, and navigation—and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. Geetesh has authored six books.

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