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Using Multiple PowerPoint Templates and Masters

Explore working with multiple templates and masters in PowerPoint. We look at some caveats and their workarounds.


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This page looks at issues concerning multiple templates (and/or masters) across different PowerPoint versions.

Sooner or later, you may want to have more background designs or layouts than offered by default using PowerPoint. This sort of feedback must have convinced Microsoft to incorporate the multiple template feature in PowerPoint 2002 and later versions.

However, we’re aware that some of you still use PowerPoint 97 or 2000, and limitations in the number of unique designs you can implement must be frustrating. Fortunately, there are workarounds. Let's explore the possibilities.

PowerPoint 2002 and 2003

Both these versions (and corresponding Mac versions) support multiple templates. There are several ways to apply multiple templates to individual slides within a presentation. Amazingly, these multiple templates remain applied when you open the presentation in PowerPoint 97 and 2000 although PowerPoint 2000 does perform somewhat better than 97 in this respect.

Here is a step-by-step procedure:

  1. Go to Normal View and choose the Slide tab on the left pane so that we have thumbnails visible on the left.
  2. Select individual thumbnails using standard Windows selection procedures like Control and Shift-clicking.
  3. Then, go to the Format menu and choose Slide Design. Doing so will activate the Slide Design task pane on the right.
  4. Choose the desired template from the previews and click on the arrow besides to open a context menu. Choose Apply to Selected slides. You're done.
  5. In case this does not work, you have probably disabled Multiple Masters. Go to Tools | Options | Edit and clear the checkbox that says Disable New Features.

PowerPoint 97 and 2000

The simplest route open to you is to insert backgrounds as pictures, scale them to fill an entire slide, and order them behind all content. Even though you may place the inserted background graphic behind all other slide content, it still covers the template's original design.

You will find more extensive information on multiple templates at PowerPoint MVP Echo Swinford's site.

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