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Slide Background Styles in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn about different Background Styles available for slides in PowerPoint 2016.


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






When you create a new presentation in PowerPoint 2016, you may typically see a single slide with a white background. Alternatively, if you open any of your existing presentations, the background of the slides may be in a different color or fill depending upon the Theme that the presentation is based upon. You can always change this slide background to a picture, a solid color, a pattern, or even a gradient. However, even without exploring all those options, there are twelve Background Styles that PowerPoint offers for every presentation by default. These styles are all coordinated and also designed to work well as a set of complementary backgrounds. You can change your presentation slides to follow any of these background styles by following the steps explained below:

  1. Create a new presentation or open an existing presentation. Figure 1 shows our sample presentation opened in Slide Sorter view.

    Presentation in Slide Sorter view
    Figure 1: Presentation in Slide Sorter view
  2. Now, access the Design tab of the Ribbon and click the downward pointing arrow within the Variants group, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 2.

    Design tab of the Ribbon
    Figure 2: Design tab of the Ribbon
  3. This brings up the Variants drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 3. Within this gallery choose the Background Styles option (highlighted in red within Figure 3).

    Background Styles option to be selected
    Figure 3: Background Styles option to be selected
  4. This will bring up a sub-gallery that contains 12 default Background Styles, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.

    Background Styles sub-gallery
    Figure 4: Background Styles sub-gallery
  5. One of these 12 styles may be highlighted -- this indicates the background style applied to the active slide. Among these twelve slide background styles, select any style of your choice by clicking on it. In Figure 5 you can see Style 11 is selected.

    Style 11 chosen for the slide background
    Figure 5: Style 11 chosen for the slide background

    Note: These 12 default styles change when you apply a different Theme to your presentation. Also, do you see the Format Background and Reset Slide Background options highlighted in red within Figure 5, above? These are explained in our Format Slide Background in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial.
  6. This applies the selected Background Style to the entire presentation, as shown in Figure 6. Compare Figures 1 and 6.

    Slide Background Style 11 applied to the open presentation
    Figure 6: Slide Background Style 11 applied to the open presentation
  7. Save your presentation often.

Apply Background Styles to Selected Slides

Do you want to apply one of the 12 background styles to just the active slide, or selected slides in your presentation? In that case, follow these steps:

  1. Access Slide Sorter view, and select the slides that you want to change to another background style, as shown in Figure 7. As you can see, we have selected slide numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5 only.

    Some slides selected in Slide Sorter view
    Figure 7: Some slides selected in Slide Sorter view

    Tip: Want to know how you can select slides in Slide Sorter view -- look at our Slide Sorter view tutorial.
  2. Now access the Background Styles sub-gallery, as explained in steps 2, 3, and 4 , in the preceding section on this page. Within Background Styles sub-gallery carefully right-click the Background Style you want to apply to the selected slides so that you can see the contextual menu shown in Figure 8.

    Background Style right-clicked to show the contextual menu
    Figure 8: Background Style right-clicked to show the contextual menu

    As you can see in Figure 8, there are three options in the contextual menu:

    1. Apply to All Slides: As the name itself indicates, this option applies the selected background style to all of the slides in the presentation.

    2. Apply to Selected Slides: This option applies the selected background style to the selected slides. If you don't have multiple slides selected, it will apply the selected background style to the active slide only.

    3. Add Gallery to Quick Access Toolbar: Selecting this option will add the Background Styles icon to the Quick Access Toolbar. Figure 9 shows the resultant Quick Access Toolbar after selecting this option -- you can see the Background Styles icon added (highlighted in red within Figure 9).

      Background Styles icon added to the Quick Access Toolbar
      Figure 9: Background Styles icon added to the Quick Access Toolbar
  3. Among the three options explained above, select the Apply to Selected Slides option to apply the selected Background Style to the slides you have selected in your presentation. In Figure 10 you can see the Background Style of the selected slides has changed to the new style (compare with Figure 7).

    Selected slides with changed background style
    Figure 10: Selected slides with changed background style
  4. Get back to Normal view as required -- and save your presentation.

See Also:

Slide Background Styles in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Slide Background Styles in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Slide Background Styles in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Slide Background Styles in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003 for Windows
PowerPoint 2016 and 2011 for Mac

Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

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