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PowerPoint 2010 is a great program for developing presentations, but staring at that first big blank title slide might not be very conducive to being creative (kind of like looking at that blank Word document when you’re trying to start writing a blog post).

Fortunately, PowerPoint has a speedy way of getting you past the “Big Blank”. You can use themes to quickly change the layout of your PowerPoint presentation.

PowerPoint 2010 comes with 40 built-in themes (yes, even the default “Big Blank” is a theme, although Microsoft calls it “Office Theme”). You can see the various themes by clicking the Design tab, choose the Themes group, and then click the More button to open the Theme Gallery.

As you mouse over the various themes, you’ll see a live preview of it in your slides, and you’ll also see a theme name such as Austin, Grid, and Pushpin. You can apply a built-in theme to all your slides by clicking on the theme you want.

If you want to apply a theme to select slides:

  1. Select the slides (the Slide Sorter view is great for this). If you want non-contiguous slides, hold down the Ctrl key while you select the slides.
  2. On the Design tab, in the Themes group, click the More button.
  3. Right click on the theme you want.
  4. Select Apply to Selected Slides

Themes are a combination of Colors, Fonts, and Effects, as well as Background Styles, and often, background shapes. If you drop down the menus for Colors, Fonts, or Effects, you’ll see that they have the same names as the theme. So, if you like a particular theme, but not necessarily the associated color set, you can change it. You can also create new Theme Colors or Fonts. But you can’t create new Effects (Effects control the Shape Styles you’ll see when you’re editing shapes).

Ok, you’ve spent time getting things the way you like them. Or, maybe you already have a presentation you want to use as a theme. You can save your settings as a Custom Theme.

  1. On the Design tab, in the Themes group, click the More button.
  2. Select Save Current Theme.
  3. Give it a more meaningful name than Theme1 and click Save.

Your theme will now appear in the Theme Gallery in the Custom section.

Here’s the really cool thing. Don’t want to see the “Big Blank” anymore? Right click on any theme (including any custom ones you’ve created) and select Set as Default Theme. Now, create a new blank presentation (Ctrl+N will do it). You get a new presentation all set to go with your theme applied.

To learn more, check out some of our PowerPoint 2010 training classes!

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