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A Microsoft Office PowerPoint template contains sample content, formatting, or objects that can be used to quickly and easily create a new presentation, giving users a way to save time while helping them produce high-quality presentations.

This document provides guidelines for creating PowerPoint templates, from creating and saving templates to formatting them so that they are easy to use and will work correctly when customized, printed, or viewed on other computers. It should be thoroughly applied to each template created for Microsoft. For guidelines applying to all apps in general, see Create templates for Office.

Quick checklist for template builders - Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Theme colors and fonts are set for the template and the template only uses theme colors and fonts for all elements.

  • All title fonts are as close to 44pt as possible and all non-title fonts are as close to 28pts as possible.

  • Line spacing between sentences is made using paragraph formatting and not by adding empty lines.

  • All slides map to the master slides (if Home > Slides > Reset is selected, nothing in the slide should change).

  • The core set of slides are the same (and in the same order) as in a document made from File > New blank presentation unless otherwise specified (either because the presentation is old and being updated or from the spec for a new presentation).

  • Default tables are chosen.

  • Default shapes are chosen.

  • Photos are not compressed in the presentation.

  • Theme colors and fonts are specifically set which match the design specs from within the Slide Master.

  • Any custom theme colors and custom font pairings have been deleted from the template so they aren’t visible to the user.

  • Photos are all set to 100% (any changes to photo size must be made in a photo editing software).

  • All photos have a resolution of 96 dpi and are around 25kb but as high quality as possible.

  • Templates do not have any watermarked images and all images are owned by Microsoft.

  • Alt text is used correctly for all images and shapes.

  • All colors pass the colour contrast analyzer tool.

High-level steps for creating a PowerPoint template

  • Start a new document and save it as a .potx file, or as pptx if it is going to be used in PowerPoint for the web.

  • Remove your name from File >Info >Author, then make sure to select “Allow this information to be saved in your file” under File >Info to save that setting.

  • Set the slide size, theme fonts and colors in the slide master.

    Always look for the font combination you need from the Office section first, then if they aren’t available there, you can make a custom font pairing. If you make a custom font pairing, name it relative to the template (see Set theme colors and fonts).

  • Build the template according to the specs and unless otherwise indicated, include the 11 default slide setups that are found in the master when making a new blank presentation from File >New.

  • Unless instructed by the specs, provide sample slides for all the slide layouts except the 2 default vertical slide layouts.

  • Provide basic sample content on each page according to the specific guidelines found in the details section of this document.

  • Before submitting for a formal test pass, run the template through the PowerPoint test plan and fix any issues.

Set theme colors and fonts

All templates must have theme colors and fonts specifically set which match the design specs.

Set theme colors and fonts in the Slide Master.

  • Under Slide Master >Colors, choose Customize Colors. Set the colors as specified in the design spec.

  • Click Save and allow it to save the new scheme as Custom 1 without specifying a name.

  • To set fonts, in the Slide Master, select Fonts and first look to see if there is a set under Office which works with the template. If there is, choose that one. If you need to customize, go to Customize Fonts and select the fonts specified in the design.

After creating any custom theme colors and custom font pairings, the sets need to be deleted from the template so they aren’t visible to the user. To delete them, do the following:

  • In the Slide Master, click Colors, and then right-click the name of the color set given, then click Delete.

  • Click Yes when prompted to confirm the deletion.

  • If there is a custom font pairing as well, do the same for the font set.

For more specific rules about fonts such as approved fonts, see Create templates for Office and Approved fonts for templates.

Photos and shapes

Never resize photos larger or smaller within the PowerPoint application. Instead, scale the original photo to the desired size using a graphics editing program such as Photoshop.

All photos should have a resolution of 96 dpi and should be kept to a smaller file size of (or near) 25kb but as high quality as possible.

All Photoshop images must be converted to JPG or PNG before inserting into a template.

All images must be owned by Microsoft, or must be licensed with Creative Commons 0 (CC0). See Art guidance for templates.

Don't compress photos. In File > Options > Advanced, set the setting to not compress images. After it is set, it will persist in subsequent documents.

Set default shapes in templates. Setting a default shape makes it possible to maintain the same settings such as fill color, outline color and text size/color whenever a shape is created by the user. To set a default shape, right click on the shape you want to set and select “Set as Default Shape”.

Make sure the default shape settings for a template use contrasting fill and text colors. You want to be sure that inserting a rectangle, for example, doesn’t use the same color for the shape’s fill as for text inserted into the shape, requiring the user to make formatting changes.

Alt text must be added for all images and shapes:

  • Add alt text in the Description field under Format Shape > Layout & Properties > Alt Text.

  • Make alt text brief, descriptive and not specific to a template name or reference to sample text. Examples include “Semiconductor elements” or “Satellite dish”.

  • Do not use the words “image of” or “photo of” but should describe exactly what the image is.

Set default tables

Set default tables in templates so that every time the user creates a table, it matches the other tables in the template. To set a default table:

  1. Create a table in the main presentation (not in the slide master) by using a slide layout with a table option.

  2. Click anywhere in the table and go to Table Tools > Design > Table Styles.

  3. Select the style that you want to be used as the default, right click on it and choose Set as Default.

General best practices for templates

If bulleted text is changed in any way (size, color, indentation) in the Master, bullet levels 6-8 (which don’t appear by default) must be changed as well so they match. To do this, go into the Master and into the text box you are going to edit, then add levels 6-8, edit all of the bulleted text and when you are finished, delete levels 6-8. Do this with all of the bulleted text that is going to be edited in each layout. In other words, just editing all 8 levels of bulleted text in the Title and Content layout will not automatically update the bulleted text in the Two Content layout.

When you add a new generic text box placeholder to the Slide Master in PowerPoint, the default text that appears "Edit Master text styles" cannot be changed AT ALL (you can't even make it all caps). You have to leave the wording and capitalization exactly as it is or it won't work correctly in the presentation. Always check slides by adding a new, blank slide to make sure that it behaves as expected. Blank, generic text placeholders should have the following text:

  • In the Slide Master: "Edit Master text styles"

  • In the presentation: “Click to add text”

All PowerPoint templates must be readable in greyscale and black & white view as well as in color view, and must be checked in both the Master and the main presentation. To fix these views, go to View > Greyscale and go through the entire presentation (Master and main presentation) to see if anything is not readable. If you find something that doesn’t look good, click on it and select one of the options in the Greyscale menu. Keep in mind that the same setting applies to Black & White. After fixing for greyscale, go back to View and select Black & White and look through the entire presentation again. If one of the settings for Greyscale makes the object look bad in Black & White view, toggle between the views trying different settings until that section is readable.

Accessibility for PowerPoint

Make sure reading order is correct for each slide, both in the Master and in the sample pages. Footer on each slide usually needs to be edited to "Footer, Date, Slide page number".

Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer Tool to make sure color contrast is acceptable. See Accessibility.

Do not change sample chart colors. If the text in charts is not easy to read, choose a different chart style under Chart Tools > Design > Chart Styles.

Add slide titles wherever they are missing. Put "Add a Slide Title - 1" and increase the numbering on each slide.

For tables, make sure there is no title or description alt texts.

For charts, SmartArt, and empty image placeholders, make sure there is no title alt text and that there is appropriate description alt text. Here are some samples of appropriate alt text:

  • Line chart showing the values of 3 series for 4 categories.

  • Clustered column chart showing the values of 3 series for 4 categories.

  • An empty placeholder to add an image. Click on the placeholder and select the image that you wish to add.

  • Staggered process showing 3 tasks arranged one below the other and two downward pointing arrows are used to indicate progression from first task to second task and second task to third task.

  • Vertical bullet list showing 3 groups arranged one below the other and bullet points are present under each group.

  • Hierarchy List - Use to show hierarchical relationships progressing across groups. Can also be used to group or list information.

  • Stacked List showing 4 groups arranged from left to right with task descriptions under each group.

All title fonts must be as close to 44pt as possible. All non-title fonts must be as close to 28pts as possible. No font size should be smaller than 11pt including the footer information like slide number, date, etc. The default for the footer information is 12pt and if the spec doesn’t specify otherwise, use 12pt.

All slides must map to the master slides (so if the users chooses Home > Slides > Reset, nothing in the slide would change).

The core set of slides should be the same (and in the same order) as in a document made from File > New blank presentation unless otherwise specified (either because the presentation is old and being updated or from the spec for a new presentation).

There should be no empty line spaces to create spacing between paragraphs. Use the paragraph settings to set spacing instead.

There is code in PowerPoint that displays specific wording in the text and content placeholders in the slide master but different wording in the main presentation. In all places where content and text placeholders are used, the text in the master slides must be left as is: “Edit Master text styles” and in the main presentation, that text should say “Click to add text” with no mention of the Master, as in the following table:

Slide master

Main presentation

Title

"Edit Master title style"

"Click to add title"

Subtitle

"Edit Master subtitle style"

"Click to add text"

Content placeholder

"Edit Master text styles" (and then it also displays up to 5 bullet levels)

"Click to add text" (with no bullet levels displayed)

Text placeholder

"Edit Master text styles" (does not show any bullet levels)

"Click to add text"

Slide titles should match their content and Master slide title should be the name of the template, not the name of the theme.

For Accessibility, even if sample tables aren't included in the template, check the default table style and make sure it passes color contrast.

Users with low to no vision have a difficult time seeing text on top of a background that has a high-contrast pattern. Do not use any presentation with a pattern that is too busy as an accessible template.

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