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How to Create Google Slide Layouts (Dimensions, Sizes, and Design)

This post is part of a series called How to Use Google Slides (Ultimate Tutorial Guide).
How to Add Text & Bullet Points in Google Slides Presentations
How to Add Music & Sound to Google Slides Presentations

Do you need a specialized Google Slide layout for your presentation? Maybe you need to add a logo to a title page layout? Maybe you want to change the default font or colors for certain slide layouts. Or maybe you want to format your text into columns.

Whether your presentation is for your business, for a class, or for some other purpose—you may find yourself wanting to arrange a slide in a way that is not defined by your current presentation theme.

You can create unique layouts in Google Drive Slides that you can use throughout your presentation if you know how. Follow the steps in this tutorial to learn how to create your own Google Slide layouts. We'll also discuss Google Slides dimensions and cover a few slide design basics.

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Now let's get started with this tutorial, to learn all about how to control presentation layouts in Google Slides.

Choose a Google Slides Presentation Template

For this tutorial, we've used the Fox Google Slides template from GraphicRiver. Here's a sample of how the template looks:

Fox minimalist Google Slides template
For the examples in this tutorial we used the Fox Google Slides template.

To use the template, simply type over the slide information in the template with your own information. 

Discover more Google slides presentation template at Envato's GraphicRiver, or browse through our top new selections: 

Understanding Google Slides Sizes & Dimensions

Before you download a template, however, choose the Google Slides dimension that you want to use for your presentation. This section covers the Google Slides Page Setup option, which is how you define the aspect ratio of your Google Slides layouts.

In Google Drive Slides, you will find the available slide dimensions in the Page Setup dialog box. Open the dialog box by File > Page setup:

Page Setup dialog box in Google Slides
You will find the Google Slides dimensions on the Page setup dialog box.

Click the up and down arrows to see the various aspect ratios available:

Available dimensions in Google Slides
Choose from four aspect ratios.

As you can see, there are four aspect ratio options available:

  1. Standard 4:3
  2. Widescreen 16:9
  3. Widescreen 16:10
  4. Custom

The Google Slide size of layout you use depends on the aspect ratio of the equipment that your presentation will be viewed on or whether it will printed out. The numbers after each choice represent the slide's aspect ratio, which compares horizontal to vertical resolution. You can tell if the aspect ratio is wrong for your equipment if you see black space around the edges of your presentation when you view it.

The second and third options are best for most new devices. Even most smart phones use a 16:9 aspect ratio. However, if you are using older equipment to display your presentation, you may need to use the Standard 4:3 option.

Using the Custom option, you can define your own aspect ratio in inches, centimeters, points, or pixels:

Custom slide size option in Google Slides
Define your own aspect ratio in Google Slides.

If you are using a pre-defined theme or template, however, you may not have to change Google Slide dimensions yourself unless you need to use a custom aspect ratio. The Fox Google Slides template, for example, comes with pre-defined versions for 16x9 and 4x3 aspect ratio dimensions:

Versions for various aspect ratio dimensions
With the Fox Google Slides template choose between versions for 16:9 aspect ratio or a 4:3 aspect ratio.

You can learn how to choose and download your own professional Google Slides theme in this quick tutorial:

Now that you understand more about working with Google presentation slide dimensions, it's time to look at another important, related concept. Let's examine the concept of master slides:

What is a Master Slide?

Before we can create our own Google Slides layouts, you need to know what a master slide and a master layout is.

A master slide defines how your presentation will look. It affects all the slides in your presentation. In contrast, master layouts could be used by all  your slides, but you may choose to only re-use a layout several times.

Each slide you create is based on both the master slide and the master layout. To see the master slide and layouts for your presentation, use the Slide > Edit master menu option to open the Master Layout Editing dialog box:

Master Layout Editing dialog box in Google Slides
You can change master slides and layouts from the Master Layout Editing dialog box.

Many presentation themes have a pre-defined master slide as well as master layouts. This reduces the need to create your own master and layouts.

Even with so many options available, you may occasionally feel the need to create your own layout. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create your own master layouts. Let's get started: 

How to Create Google Slide Layouts Quickly (Watch & Learn)

In this screencast, we walk through how to create Google Slides layouts using Master Layouts. This way you can take your new slide design and apply it to any number of slides in your presentation quickly: 

Read on for an illustrated guide to making your own unique Google Slide layouts: 

How to Create Google Slide Layouts

Although Google Drive Slides themes include a wide variety of master layouts for you to base your presentation on, sometimes you need a different slide layout. When that happens, you'll need to create your own master slide.

If you like this tutorial, you may also be interested in this Google Slides tutorial that explains how to add background images to a Google Slides presentation:

Step 1. Start with an Open Presentation

Start by opening the presentation for which you want to create the Google Slides layout:

Sample presentation
In this tutorial, we will be working with this presentation.

Note: Although this presentation is based on the Fox template, I've changed it to add information for the fictitious company, AnyTown Consulting. AnyTown Consulting is not intended to represent a real company.

Step 2. Add a Blank Slide to Your Presentation

Next, add a new blank slide to your presentation. This will be the slide for which we will create a new master layout.

To add a blank slide, click on the down arrow to the right of the Plus (+) symbol in left corner of the screen:

Add a blank slide
To start, add a blank slide.

A dialog box opens displaying master layouts that are available. Click the Blank option to add a blank slide. A blank slide displays:

Blank slide
We begin by working with a blank slide.

Note: The blank slide uses the master slide for the theme, which is why it has a header saying AnyTown Consulting on it.

Step 3. Open the Master Layout Editing Dialog Box

Make sure the blank slide is selected by clicking on it in the pane to left of your open slide.

Select the Slide > Edit master menu option to open the Master Layout Editing dialog box:

Master Layout Editing dialog box
Use the Master Layout Editing dialog box to create a slide layout.

As you can see, you are working with a Blank layout that is currently used by one slide.

At this point, it's a good idea to rename the layout since it will no longer be blank after you are done with it. Click the Rename button:

Rename layout
Rename your layout since it will no longer be blank.

Type the new name of your master layout and click the OK button. In this case, I named the new layout AnyTown Consulting, since I am creating it for an AnyTown Consulting presentation. But you can call it whatever you want.

Step 4. Make Layout Changes to Your Master Slide

With the Master Layout Editing dialog box open, use the toolbar tools make the layout changes you desire to the master layout you are working on:

Toolbar tools
Use the toolbar tools to make design changes to your slide layout.
  • Use the Text tool to insert a placeholder for text.
  • Use the Image tool to add an image.
  • Use the Shape tool to add a shape.
  • Use the Line tool to add a line.

Remember that whatever layout changes you make will appear on every slide that uses the master layout you create.

In this example, I used the Text tool to add a title. I used the Line tool to add a blue line underneath that title. And I used the Text tool again to create four columns of text. Also, just for fun, I used the Shape tool to add a solid blue diamond at the top right of the slide layout.

You can also use the toolbar tools to change the font style, font size, and font color. In the illustration below, I am changing the font in a text box:

Changing selected font
You can change the font size, color, and style.

Once you've finished your master layout, click the white X in the right corner of the dialog box to close it.

Here's a slide using the new master layout I just created:

Slide using master layout
This slide uses the newly created master layout.

Simply type the text and subtitle where indicated.

Note: You will not be able to remove the line under the subtitle or the blue diamond without going into the Master Slide Layout dialog box.

Step 5. Apply Your New Master Layout

Now that you've created a new master layout in Google slides, you can apply it to as many slides as you want.

Here's how to use the new master layout on a new slide:

To add it to a new slide, simply click the down arrow next to the + symbol on the left of your screen to add a new slide. Notice how the new master layout that you created is now available as a choice:

Choosing the new master layout
You can apply the new master layout to multiple slides.

Click on the new master layout to apply it to the new slide you are creating.

Here's how to apply the new master layout to an existing slide:

To apply it to an existing slide, click on a slide to select it. Right-click on the selected slide to bring up a drop-down menu:

Drop-down menu
Use the Apply layout option to apply the master layout to an existing slide.

Select the Apply layout option from the drop-down menu. Next, click on the new master layout from the layout selections to right of the drop-down menu.

The master slide layout you created is applied to the new slide.

3 Basic Google Slide Design Tips

It's great to be able to create your own master layouts in Google Slides, but if your presentation is going to be effective you should remember to follow these basic design principles. 

Discover basic slide design guidelines to follow. In this section, we briefly cover three design areas that you need to master:

  1. Color
  2. Font usage
  3. Graphics (including images)

Let's examine each area separately.

1. Color

Color is an important part of your design. You can change the color of slide elements using the master slides and master layouts in Google Drive Slides.

You can also change some color elements as you create a slide without going into the Master Layout Editing dialog box.

For example, you can change the color of fonts used in your presentation. You can also change the color of drawing elements that you add directly to a slide, such as lines and shapes. You cannot change the color of drawing elements added through the Master Layout Editing dialog box without going back into the dialog box.

When choosing colors, remember the following points:

  • Color choices should contrast or complement one another. In most cases, avoid clashing colors such as orange and purple.
  • Choose colors that portray a professional image to your intended audience. Earth tones and neutral colors such as white, black, gray and blue are usually considered professional. Pastels such as pink and lilac may work for certain markets and not others.
  • Keep in mind your branding. Other elements of your branding such as your logo, website, business cards, and stationery should already have a unique color scheme. Your presentation should mirror your branded color scheme.
  • Keep in mind visibility. Text in some colors, such as light yellow against a white background, will be hard to read.

Discover hundreds of professional Google Slides presentation templates on GraphicRiver, where you can purchase and download fresh designs quickly. 

Best Google Slides presentation templates on GraphicRiver
Best Google Slides presentation templates on GraphicRiver.

They come with a variety of color schemes and slide layouts you can choose from. Find the best on for your next presentation: 

2. Fonts

Your font choices are another important design decision. The fonts you choose can affect how successful your presentation is. When it comes to fonts there are three main factors to consider:

  1. Readability
  2. Size
  3. Number of fonts

Simple fonts like Helvetica or Arial work best. Avoid fonts with lots of flourishes such fonts that are made to look like script or handwriting. The fancier fonts will be more difficult to read.

Use basic fonts in your presentation
Use basic fonts, in order to keep your typography readable.

Also, you should limit the number of fonts you use in your presentation to one or two. Enhance your font choices using bold, italic or underline. But avoid using many different fonts if you want your presentation to look cohesive.

3. Graphics

Photos, drawings and charts play a big part in an effective slide presentation. To make the most of your graphics avoid these common mistakes:

  • Picking a poor-quality image
  • Using an image with a low resolution
  • Choosing a chart with text that is too small
  • Putting too many graphics on a single slide

Discover an assortment of graphics and photos you can use on Envato Elements. It gives you unlimited template downloads for a single monthly fee. That means complete access to all the graphics, photos, design templates, and more that you might need.

Envato Elements - Design without limits
Envato Elements - Design without limits.

To learn more about presentation design, review this tutorial for more detailed information: 

Take Control of Your Layouts in Google Slides

In this tutorial, you've learned about Google Slides dimensions, as well as how to work with master slides and master layouts. We also showed you how to create your own custom slide layouts that you can use over and over. Finally, we covered some basic design tips for making more effective presentations. 

Creating your own Google Slides master layouts can be quite useful—especially if you make a lot of presentations. Learn more about how to use Google Slides in our ultimate tutorial guide series.

Learn All About How to Make Great Presentations (Free eBook)

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Take the knowledge you gained in this tutorial further with our new eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. Grab this PDF Download now for Free with your subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter.

It will help walk you through the complete presentation process. Learn how to write your presentation, design it like a pro, and prepare it to present powerfully.

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