The definitive PowerPoint template guide

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Ready to kick your PowerPoint skills up a notch?

If the answer is yes, check out this definitive (and free!) guide that takes the fundamentals and builds on them. Created by SketchDeck’s team of world-class designers, this guide will save you time, make edits easier, and teach you everything you need to know to create well-designed PowerPoint templates.


If you’re not familiar with PowerPoint defaults or are hearing the words “slide masters” for the first time, we recommend going over PowerPoint 101 before reading further. You can watch our PowerPoint video tips or learn more about slide masters here.

To make the most of this guide, you’ll need a medium-level proficiency in PowerPoint. This means you know your way around:

  • Creating shapes and text objects
  • Importing and editing vector icons and illustrations
  • Importing and editing photos
  • Creating tables and charts
  • Setting up defaults
  • Creating slide masters and layouts

Guiding principles

Leveling up in PowerPoint takes a bit of retraining–typically, updating or creating a process and sticking to it. By getting a few things set up in the early stages of building a new deck, you can save yourself from stress later on. Here are some cardinal rules to abide by:

Automate: use defaults to help “future you”

Putting in extra effort upfront will pay off in dividends. By automating as much as possible, you’re guaranteed to save time and future headaches.

If you or another team member decide a font or color aren’t cutting it, you can make a single change in default fonts or colors. That’s right–setting defaults will save you from going over each individual text box and shape in your document just to change a single font. Go ahead and breathe a big sigh of relief now!

setting up PowerPoint default fonts
Setting up default fonts

Keep it editable = keep it flexible

Keeping your slides editable helps to maintain consistency and continuity between decks. It’s always better to do as much work in PowerPoint as you can so that you can go back and make changes easily.

This means avoiding secondary programs like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Unless you need to create a super complicated vector shape or go to town on editing a photo, keep it simple and stay in the PowerPoint family–otherwise, future you won’t be able to edit the data on images you’ve created using other programs.

Here are some editing tips for editing in PPT:

  1. Icons: import as vectors and change colors, sizes, shapes, etc. within PowerPoint. “Regroup” in order to apply affects to multiple elements at once.
  2. Photos: try using PowerPoint’s built-in “color” and “corrections” settings to make edits as needed. Do your best to create color and gradient overlays in PowerPoint.
  3. Effects: create and edit drop shadows and gaussian blurs using the PowerPoint tools.

Working with others? Explain your work!

If there will be many hands working on your PowerPoint file or you’re collaborating with others to create content, make edits, etc., be sure to drop instructions and notes throughout. Leaving notes will help Sally, Jesse or Raphael understand your intentions and complete their portion with less back and forth.

Here are two examples of ways to leave explanations:

  1. Notes: placing text off to the side of layouts in the slide master is a great way to leave notes/instructions for colleagues.
  2. Placeholder text: instead of just “click to add title”, you can leave instructions or extra details like “Slide title (one line)” or “Short and sweet slide title here”.

Templates: Process & standard

Have a process and using templates when building a deck is a habit worth building, as it lends you way more flexibility–not to mention saves you time and money!

Step 0

Use the same theme: You should always use the same theme as a starting point and set it as your default theme. If other team members also use PowerPoint, have them use the same theme too. This creates a uniform starting point across the organization.

Step 1

Set up the bare minimum during samples: Set up default fonts and colors per your company guidelines. For this, just use a blank layout–samples often feature several different title styles, so there’s no sense in setting them up in the master yet.

Step 2

Set up all master elements: Once you’ve decided on a style, it’s time to get your elements sorted!

Here’s what we recommend setting up:

setting up PPT defaults
setting up ppt colors
setting up PPT shapes
setting default line ppt
settint text box default ppt

Do the same for your master slides, setting your placeholders and styles. Some slides are always useful:

  • Blank slides
  • Title only
  • Section dividers
  • Example slides

Streamline: use the quick access toolbar

Pro tip: the Quick Access Toolbar (known in the biz as “QAT”) is a great way to house your most-used PowerPoint functions in a convenient manner. That’s right–no more digging through tabs!

Suggested additions:

  • Align and distribute functions
  • Toggle guides
  • Format shape shortcut
  • Header and footer shortcut

What are you waiting for?

Now that we’ve showed you a handful of awesome PPT tips, why don’t you treat yourself to the full guide? It’s free! On it, you’ll also find:

  • A comprehensive terminology cheat sheet;
  • How to name and organize your slide master layouts;
  • When to use an example slide instead of a layout;
  • Keyboard shortcuts;
  • And more!

Fill the form in your right and download your PowerPoint Template Guide now!

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