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Pattern Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn how to apply Pattern fills as Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2016
OS: Windows 7 and higher






Patterns in PowerPoint are two-color designs comprising lines, dots, dashes, checks, etc. PowerPoint includes 48 such patterns with names like Plaid, Weaves, Shingle and Zigzag. This tutorial builds upon what you have already learned in the Format Slide Background tutorial, and shows how you can use a Pattern fill for your slide background.

Typically, patterns should work most of the time as slide backgrounds since most patterns are very small, and spread over the entire expanse of a slide, they can add a homogeneous look. However some patterns work better than others, and if your slide text is small in size, then reading the text against a patterned background may be a challenge. Look at Figure 1, below where you can see the slide variations on the left do not work well -- that's because they use the wrong pattern or the wrong colors, or they may be wrong on both counts. The example slides on the right make different pattern and color choices, and the results do seem a whole lot better. Do note that slide thumbnails both on the left and right do have patterns, and are not solid color fills as may appear in the thumbnails due to their tiny sizes!

Choose patterns and their colors carefully
Figure 1: Choose patterns and their colors carefully

Follow these steps to add a patterned background to your slides in PowerPoint 2016:

  1. We assume you have a new presentation created, or you have opened any of your existing presentations. We also assume that you have summoned the Format Background Task Pane, as explained in our Format Slide Background tutorial. Alternatively, just right-click within an empty area of your slide and choose the Format Background option in the resultant contextual menu (highlighted in red with Figure 2) to bring up the same Task Pane.

    Format Background option
    Figure 2: Format Background option
  2. Within the Format Background Task Pane, select the Pattern fill radio button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3.

    Pattern fill radio button selected
    Figure 3: Pattern fill radio button selected

    When you select the Pattern fill radio button, the active slide's background changes to a pattern fill, as you can see in a live preview – your slide background will auto-update with any changes you make in the Format Background Task Pane. The options within the Format Background Task Pane are explained below, as marked in Figure 3 above:

    1. Pattern: This area shows all the two-color pattern fills that PowerPoint provides -- hover your cursor over any of these previews to see a tool tip that indicates the name of the pattern fill (see Figure 4, below). Just click on any of these pattern previews to select it as your slide background fill.

      Tool tip identifies the name of a pattern
      Figure 4: Tool tip identifies the name of a pattern

    2. Foreground: Click this button to bring up PowerPoint's Color drop-down gallery -- options to select a color within this drop-down gallery are explained in our Solid Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial -- look within points 3A to 3E to learn more. The color you finally choose will form the foreground color of your selected pattern -- both the live preview on the slide and the patterns themselves (explained in point A, above) will auto-update to the changed foreground color.

    3. Background: Works in the same way as the Foreground option, explained above in point B. The color you finally choose will form the background color of your selected pattern -- both the live preview on the slide and the patterns themselves (explained in point A, above) will auto-update to the changed background color.
  3. Change the slide background to a Pattern fill using the options explained in the preceding step. Make sure you choose two colors for the foreground and background that work well together -- as a rule of the thumb, you want to choose colors that are slightly similar and do not contrast too much with each other.

    Thereafter, you can proceed choosing any of the following options:

    1. Click the Apply to All button to fill all slides in the presentation with the selected pattern.

    2. Click the Reset Background button to abandon all changes you made to the slide background.
    More details about the Apply to All and Reset Background buttons can be found in our Format Slide Background in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial.
  4. In Figure 5 you can see the slide background of the entire presentation filled with a pattern.

    Presentation with a pattern fill background
    Figure 5: Presentation with a pattern fill background
  5. Remember to save your presentation often.

See Also:

Pattern Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Pattern Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Pattern Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

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