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One of the most difficult things to do during a business meeting or lecture is watch a boring presentation. Or maybe you're the one stuck with designing a PowerPoint for your company or group project. This instructable will demonstrate the process of creating a personalized PowerPoint template that can be used again and again without starting from scratch or even looking at past versions of your work.

Note: This instructable uses Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 on a PC. Earlier versions may use a similar method, but the layout of the program will differ from the one used here.

Second Note:  If you click on the little i symbol that can appear in the upper left-hand corner of a picture, you should be able to select a larger version of the screenshot.  If an ad happens to be in the way, click "download" (an option under the picture) and you will see it in its own window.

Step 1: Terminology

Before you get started, here is a small list of terminology that will be used throughout the instructable.  Pictures are in order at the bottom and labeled appropriately.

Master Slide:  A master slide is basically a template for a layout that you would like to use in your presentation.  A change to a master slide will affect all layouts of that kind.

Ribbon:  The bar across the top of the screen where various formatting options are often located.

Tab:  The small words at the top that group different formatting options together.  For example, the Insert tab groups together items that may be inserted into the PowerPoint.  Tabs are located just above the ribbon.

Theme Slide Master:  This slide is the boss of all master slides.  Anything you change on this one will affect every subsequent slide master.  This is useful for choosing a universal font theme, background, and for putting logos or other recurring items into your presentation.  Because this slide affects each subsequent slide, make the majority of your changes to the Theme Slide Master first.

Step 2: Open Master Slide View

Begin by opening up your PowerPoint application. *As a reminder, this tutorial is for the Microsoft Office 2007 version.*

Once it is open, look at the "ribbon" at the top of your screen. There is a tab labeled View. Select this one.

In the second section of the ribbon (or the 5th option from the left), you should see an option labeled Slide Master. Click on it to revert to Slide Master view.

To make changes to your theme on every single slide, bring your mouse to the left-hand side of the screen and select the very first slide shown there (the Theme Slide Master).

Step 3: Creating Your Own Font Theme

Looking at the Theme Slide Master still, go to the section of the ribbon labeled Edit theme.  In this space, you can select a variety of theme options, but this time you shall make your own theme.

Open the Fonts dropdown list.  At the very bottom, there is an option called Create New Theme Fonts.  Choose that one.

In the new window, scroll through the font options and select the two you like the best and that fit with your theme's purpose.  (Generally, the more professional it is, the less curly the letters should be because they are harder to read).

Make sure your fonts look nice together.

When you are satisfied with your selections, give your theme a name and hit Save.  You can now select your theme any time you open PowerPoint without having to make it again.

If you don't like your selections, you may go back to the dropdown menu, right-click on your theme, and select edit.  Save it when you are finished.

Since you were on the Theme Slide Master, the font theme should show up on every subsequent slide layout.

Step 4: Create a New Background

There are many ways to add your own background, but this step will add a Clip Art picture as an example.  Feel free to experiment with other ideas.  Don't worry, you won't break PowerPoint.

Begin by going to the Background section of the ribbon.  Also, you could right-click on the free space of the slide and select Format Background.

Under the Fill options, select the circle next to Picture or texture fill.

Press the Clip Art button and wait for the pictures to load.

Find a picture that matches your theme the best.  An uncluttered background is usually most suitable so that the text is easier to read.

Double click on your selection or hit OK and the image will show up on the background of your slide.  If the color is too dark for your font color selection, use the Transparency slider to make the colors dimmer.

Another method of making font more visible is to add a shadow behind it.  After closing the Format Background menu, begin adding a shadow by selecting the font you wish to edit with your cursor.

Right-click over the selected font and find the Format Text Effects option.

In the new window, select the Shadow option from the "menu" on the left side.

Select your color and make any other adjustments that help the words stand out on the slide.

Step 5: Adding a Logo or Shape to Every Slide

So far, all of these changes should have been made to the Theme Slide Master, or the very first slide option from the list on the left-hand side of your screen.  These changes have affected every subsequent slide underneath.

To add a logo, (with Clip Art as the example again), select the Insert tab at the top of the ribbon.

Choose the Clip Art button.  If you have a saved picture of a logo, the concept remains the same, except you select the "Picture" button.

From your options, select the Clip Art that best suits your theme and insert it on the slide.

Size it down to pleasing dimensions and place it in the corner of the slide where you want it.  Usually, logos are placed at the bottom right-hand corner.

To insert shapes, utilize a similar process but with the "Shape" option instead of "Clip Art."  You can make a solid bar across the slide or add an interesting design element to your theme.

Step 6: Finishing Touches and Saving

If you wish to make a specific layout stand out more in your presentation, select the slide layout from the options on the left-hand side of the screen.

You can begin by giving it a different, theme-oriented background.  This method may help bring emphasis to things such as a new topic within the presentation.

Use the same process as before to add a new background.  Make sure you don't select the "Apply All" option unless you want your picture to be added to every slide layout in your theme.

If you don't want a logo or any other shapes you added to the main slide to appear on your single layout, in the Background section under the Slide Master tab, check the box that is labeled Hide Background Graphics.

To move text boxes to a different location, select them by clicking on the edge of the box.  To move them together, hold the control (ctrl) button on your keyboard while selecting the boxes.

If you wish to add a new placeholder box, (you can only do this on individual layouts, not the Theme Master) go to the Master Layout section in the ribbon and select the Insert Placeholder dropdown button.

Select the type you want and add it to the slide.

Once all your slides are to your liking (or before then if you so desire), click on the Themes dropdown button under the Edit Theme section in the ribbon.

At the bottom, select the Save Current Theme option and name and save your theme.  Next time you open the dropdown list of themes, yours will appear in the Custom section and may be used at anytime you desire.

Step 7: Last Note

If you close the Master Slide view, you can use your new theme right away.  Test it out and make changes as needed.

Don't be afraid to experiment with lots of different ideas, pictures, shapes, fonts, colors, and anything else your imagination can create.

Think of what looks good to you, then get the opinions of your friends and co-workers.  Be willing to listen to their suggestions.  Your audience is usually bigger than just yourself!

Have fun!

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