Work with Themes and Backgrounds

For this activity you will use your Dress for Success First Presentation. Save it with the name Dress for Success Themes and Backgrounds. With the presentation open, follow the directions below:

Exercise 1: Try Out Themes

You want to format the background of your presentation with a theme that is unique and reflects what your presentation is all about..

By default, every new presentation has the Office theme applied. Let's change that to something more colorful.

Click the Design tab. In the Themes group, some of the available themes appear as thumbnails. The one at the start of the gallery is highlighted, meaning that it's currently applied. It's the Office Theme, and its name appears in a ScreenTip when you point to it.

Tip The ScreenTip also notes that this theme is "used by all slides." You can apply different themes to different slides in your presentation, and the ScreenTip tells you which slides use the theme.

Point to the other theme thumbnails shown, but don't click one yet. As you point to each one, you'll see its name in a ScreenTip, and PowerPoint gives you a preview of it on the slide. You can see exactly how each theme looks on your slide without actually applying it.

To see more theme choices, click the More button More Themews to the right of the theme thumbnails.


The full gallery of themes appears. The one that's applied appears at the top, under This Presentation, and the other themes contained within PowerPoint are grouped under Built-In. If you create a custom theme, it appears under Custom, between This Presentation and Built-in.

    Tip You'll find more themes when you click More Themes on Microsoft Office Online, at the bottom of the gallery.

Since you want your slides to have a professional look, choose one of the more business like themes. Each slide takes on the new theme, which you can see on the Slides tab and in the slide pane. I choose Modular for my theme.


To change the theme for just some slides, select the slides first, right-click the thumbnail, and then click Apply to Selected Slides. Click away from the menu to close it.

Exercise 2: Create Custom Theme Colors

To create your own custom color to the theme you choose, do the following:

Here is how my title slide looks without editing the color. I want to change the bottom of the slide, the gray color, to a gold color. You will change at least one color of your design.

Themed Slide

On the Design tab, in the Themes group, click Colors, and then click Create New Theme Colors. When you create your own set of theme colors, the colors that are shown in the Theme Colors button and next to the Theme name change accordingly.

Create New Theme Color

Theme colors include background colors, so when you customized the Text/Background colors, the backgrounds of your slides automatically updated to reflect these color changes. You'll see another way to change the background in the next exercise. Create a custom color for your slide show theme. For this activity I am changing the Gray color, Text/Backgroun - Dark 2 to a gold color shown below:

Change Color

My title slide now looks like this:

Color Theme Changed

Exercise 3: Change the Slide Background

Our custom theme colors are perfect for your first slide, but the remaining slide backgrounds are now looking a little dull. You can use the backgrounds available in the Background Styles gallery to quickly fix that. Remember, the backgrounds available are determined by the theme that's applied. But since you've customized the theme colors, the backgrounds available have updated to reflect those color customizations.

Select the last three slides by clicking on each of them in the left slide pane while holding down the Ctrl key.

To see all of the available backgrounds, on the Design tab, in the Background group, click the arrow next to Background Styles More Background Styles.Just as with themes, when you rest your pointer over a thumbnail in the Background Styles gallery, a preview of the background style is applied to your slide background. When you move over the different thumbnails, notice how the dark and light text and the background colors switch automatically based on the background that you choose so that your text is always legible.

Right-click the style that goes along with your theme and then click Apply to Selected Slides.

Apply to Selected Slides

Tip     If you want to change only the background of your presentation, choose a different background style rather than changing the theme. When you change a theme, you change much more than the background — you also change the set of colors, heading and body text fonts, line and fill styles, and theme effects.

Exercise 4: Use a Picture for a Slide Background

Although adding color to the slide background spiced up our slides, a picture background might be even more enticing to potential clients. Before we do this let's add a graphic to your 4th slide. Download the picture from the link below and put it into your student folder.

Picture for Slide

Click the 4th slide (Make a Good First Impression). It has a title only slide layout

On the Design tab, in the Background group, click Background Styles, and then click Format Background.

Format Background

The Format Background dialog box has multiple panes. Notice how the Fill pane is selected by default.

Under Fill, click Picture or texture fill.

Picture or Texture Fill

Don't worry if your slide background temporarily changes to a texture background.

There are three ways to insert a picture from a file, and they are under Insert from in the dialog box. You want to browse to your student folder and locate the group picture you downloaded earlier. Click the File button under Insert from:

Insert From File

Navigate to your student folder and click on the group folder.

Group Photo

As you can see since you used the photo for the background it has cut off some of the picture. The real option would have been to just inserted the photo as a picture and not as a background. To fix this you are going to offset the top part of the picture so that it fits on the slide.

Cut Off Photo

At the Stretch options section click the arrow on the Top Offset portion to offset the photo from the top. I offset mine by 13%. Click close when you are satisfied with your picture.

Offset Top

Your slide should now look like this:

Slide with Background Applied

Tip If you wanted to use this picture as the background for all of your slides, in the Format Background dialog box, you'd click Apply to All after you clicked OK.

Exercise 5: Wash Out the P icture

A detailed photograph can make your slide text hard to see. You'll wash out the picture background to prevent this.

In the Format Background dialog box (if closed simply click on top of the picture on the slide and select Format Background), click Picture to switch to the Picture pane.

    Format Picture Background

Click Recolor.

In the Recolor gallery, under Color Modes, click Washout.


Notice how the Brightness and Contrast sliders have changed from 0% to 70% and -70% respectively. If you want, you can manually adjust these to get just the right faded look for your picture. I changed my settings to the ones shown below. When you are finished, click Close.

Adjust Washout

Tip You can use Picture Tools to change the contrast or brightness of, recolor, or crop any picture. For more information, see the Quick Reference Card.

Type in the following list with font formatted black and bold.

Dress List

Exercise 6: Save as a New Theme

Now that you have your presentation looking the way you want, wouldn't it be great to be able to apply this theme to other presentations? There's an easy way to do that: saving your changes as a custom theme.

On the Design tab, in the Themes group, click the More button.

More Themes

Click Save Current Theme.

Save Current Theme

Since you want your custom theme to show up in the Themes gallery, don't change the Save in location.

In the File name box, type Dress for Success as the name for the theme.

Notice how the Save as type is Office Theme (*.thmx). This is because themes have their own file format.

Save to Document Themes

Click Save.

Now, when you open a new presentation, or an existing one, you'll see your Tropical Vacation theme under Custom in the Themes gallery and you can apply it to any slide or presentation.

Nicholson's Lesson Plan Blues