PowerPoint is an industry standard for creating presentations for good reason: it's got enough tools to easily create professional presentations.
These tools help create presentations without having to reinvent the wheel with each presentation you make. Tools like themes, animations, and slide layouts speed up the process of building presentations.
In this tutorial, I'll teach you to use and create PowerPoint layouts. You can think of a slide layout as a one-click starting point for making your presentation.
What Is a PowerPoint Slide Layout?
Let's look at a definition of PowerPoint slide layouts and what makes them so useful:
PowerPoint layouts are the combination and arrangement of objects on a slide. You can choose a layout that's built into PowerPoint and start adding your own content to build out a slide.
PowerPoint themes include multiple slide layouts. In the screenshot below, you can see a variety of slide layouts to choose from that are included with the Simplicity PowerPoint theme, available on GraphicRiver.
A slide layout in PowerPoint can be as simple as a title, centered on a slide. A layout for PowerPoint can also contain complex combinations of text boxes, images, and graphics. Use a number of slide layouts for variety in your PowerPoint presentations.
5 Popular Types of PowerPoint Slide Layouts
In this section, I'm going to sample from PowerPoint slide layouts on Envato Elements. Elements is an all-you-can-download service that includes thousands of custom PowerPoint templates—each of which includes custom layouts.
Here are five PowerPoint layouts that you'll see in many custom templates from Envato Elements. Let's check them out and think about how you might use them. I'll show you the templates that include the best PowerPoint layouts you can use in your next presentation.
1. The Timeline Layout
A timeline layout is the perfect example of a PowerPoint layout that isn't built-in. Many premium templates include timelines as a custom PowerPoint layout option.
Timelines can be used to tell stories and link events together in chronological order. It's one of the best ways to chain together events and tell a cohesive story.
2. The "Colorful Content" Slide
Minimalism and simple slides are all the rage in 2019. But throwing in the occasional bright, colorful slide can help break the rhythm and make a key slide really stand out.
In the example above, you can see a PowerPoint layout that's common to many modern presentation templates. A simple combination of blocks that serve as the backdrop to your content is the perfect example of a PowerPoint layout you won't find built into the app.
3. The Device Mockup Layout
Want to see something in a real-world setting? A device mockup layout in PowerPoint may be the perfect way to show off an app or service.
These can take many forms, but the example above is a prime one. Combining a device mockup with supporting points can bring an app or service to life.
4. The "Chart and Facts" Layout
Charts and graphs can usually stand on their own, but it helps when you put them side-by-side with key talking points. That's why a "chart and facts" layout is one of my favorite way to accomplish both on the same slide.
5. The "People Grid" Layout
There are so many presentations that benefit from showing your team. That could include business-centric presentations or a class presentation that shows everyone who contributed.
There are many PowerPoint layouts to do this, but the example above is one that's common to many templates: a simple combination of shapes and image placeholders that show off the contributors.
How to Quickly Make Slide Layouts in PowerPoint (Watch & Learn)
In this screencast, I'll teach you how to choose from different layouts in PowerPoint. Then, you'll learn how to create your very own slide layouts. This helps you save and re-use your most common slide designs.
Read on for written, illustrated instructions for mastering PowerPoint slide layouts.
How to Change PowerPoint Layouts
To change your PowerPoint layout, make sure that you're working on the Home tab on PowerPoint's ribbon.
Choose the Layout dropdown. PowerPoint shows a menu with thumbnails for each of the different layouts packaged with the theme:
To change a layout, simply click on one of those thumbnails to apply a selected layout. The slide view in the main workspace will change to the selected PowerPoint layout.
When you choose a new slide layout, PowerPoint will put placeholders on a slide, empty boxes where you can insert your own content. Based on the slide layout, the placeholder might expect you to insert header text, bullet points, images, video, and more.
Each slide layout for PPT is different. They might include placeholders for images, text boxes for your content, or even video boxes. Slide layouts also can include background colors or images specific to each slide.
Think of a slide layout in PowerPoint as a blueprint for a slide. Different blueprints help you build different styles of slides. Specific slides might skip image placeholders or use all text, so choose the layout that helps you present your content efficiently.
How to Create Custom Slide Layouts
So far, we've looked at layouts that are built into a PowerPoint theme. What if you want to create your own slide layouts with custom combinations of elements? The theme that you're using may not include the PowerPoint layout you envision. In PowerPoint, you can create custom slide layouts and use them over and over.
If you find yourself creating the same arrangement of objects on a PowerPoint slide repeatedly, it's a good idea to create your own layout. Create custom layouts and re-use them with a single click. Here's how.
1. Navigate to Slide Master View
Enter Slide Master View to create your own layout. Click on the View tab on PowerPoint's ribbon and choose Slide Master from the Master Views section on the ribbon.
Slide Master View is a feature to edit your slide templates. You can edit or insert new layouts with this view. The screenshot below shows one of the slide layouts that's built into the theme. Notice that it includes placeholder boxes where you can add your own content.
When you work in Slide Master view, you aren't working with the presentation file—you're adding layouts to the presentation theme itself.
2. Insert a Slide Layout
Now that we've entered Slide Master view, we can add and edit slide layouts. Create your own PowerPoint slide layout if your theme lacks the structure you need.
To add a new slide layout, find the Insert Layout button on the ribbon and click on it. On the left side, PowerPoint will add a new thumbnail that represents a new PowerPoint layout.
This slide layout for PPT is your blank canvas to design your very own custom slide layout. The elements you add will show anytime you use the custom slide layout.
3. Add Placeholders for Your Slide
Placeholders are the objects you can add to a slide layout. When you select a slide layout in PowerPoint, you'll see boxes that are filled with your content.
To add those boxes, click on Insert Placeholder on the ribbon while in Slide Master view. Choose from one of the options to add a box
Adding a placeholder to a slide layout in PowerPoint will create a box on the slide to add content. When you use that slide layout in the future, these placeholder boxes will appear, and you can add content to them.
A PowerPoint layout is just a set of placeholders that you can re-use, so don't add specific content like the slide title or bullet points to this view. The goal is to create re-usable slide designs that are flexible. In the screenshot below, I've added a couple of placeholders ("Content" and a "Picture" placeholder) to the layout.
Slide Master View also allows you to change font sizes and color. Those changes are included as a part of the new Slide Layout, so they'll appear anytime that you use the custom slide layout.
4. Use the PowerPoint Slide Layout
Let's leave Slide Master view and return to Normal view, the standard presentation-building view in PowerPoint. Click on View and click on Normal to leave Slide Master view.
Now that you're back in Normal View, return to the Home tab on the ribbon, and open the Layout drop-down. You'll see the new layout that we just created, and you can click on it to apply it to the active slide.
PowerPoint will change the current slide to the custom PowerPoint layout you select. Then, you can start adding content to the placeholder boxes you added in Slide Master view. Return to the Layout menu any time that you want to use your custom slide layout.
Tips for Making Great Slide Layouts
What are the elements that make for a great PowerPoint layout? We've all sat through too many presentations with crowded, confusing slides.
Not all slide layouts in PowerPoint are created equally. Here are my top tips for great slide layouts:
- Above all, limit the number of items included on a slide layout. You want to focus on a few key bullet points or media to remain readable.
- Consider font sizes when adding text boxes; use larger sizes for header text and smaller sizes elsewhere.
- Don't fill the entire slide with placeholders; leave white space between each of the elements so that the slides flow naturally.
Keep Learning More About PowerPoint
Slide layouts are just arrangements of items on a PowerPoint slide, but they're essential to master for PowerPoint professionals.
If you want to learn more about PowerPoint in general, we've got a great resource for you: the PowerPoint Ultimate Tutorial Guide. There's no other source that's got so much information in a single place.
You can make your own custom PowerPoint layouts or save time by working with a top professional PowerPoint template, which comes with great slide designs that are pre-built and ready to use:
- Microsoft PowerPoint29+ Best PowerPoint PPT Template Designs (For 2019 Presentations)Sean Hodge
- Microsoft PowerPoint25 Best PowerPoint Slide Design Templates (PPTs for 2019)Andrew Childress
- Microsoft PowerPoint25+ Best Free Professional Business PowerPoint Design Templates (2019 PPT Downloads)Andrew Childress
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Build Your Best Slide Layout in PowerPoint With Helpful Tutorials and Templates
In this post, we covered one of the most important aspects of Microsoft's presentation app: PowerPoint layouts. A layout for PPT is a blueprint you can use to set up the elements for your slides. PowerPoint certainly has built-in layout options that are easy to use as the starting point for your slides.
But, custom slides from Envato Elements or GraphicRiver have limitless layout options that can help you build your best presentations ever. Jump to those links to design your presentation with custom PowerPoint layouts.
Editorial Note: The tutorial was originally published in July of 2017. It's been comprehensively revised to include new information—with special assistance from Andrew Childress.