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PowerPoint Backgrounds

Find out about different ways in which you can use backgrounds in PowerPoint slides.


Product/Version: PowerPoint

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Gradient Backgrounds
Tiles and Textures
Picture Backgrounds
Multiple Backgrounds
PowerPoint 2002's Multiple Masters

Gradient Backgrounds

Gradient backgrounds are a quick way to escape the plain look of just one color. What's more, they are not as processor intensive as textured or full screen backgrounds.

Whatever their merits may be, gradient backgrounds are unsuitable for presentations with many elements. Also, gradients don't display similarly across different systems, and some machines may display banding.

Gradient Backgrounds

To incorporate gradient backgrounds:

  1. Select Format -> Background.
  2. In the drop down list next to a 'down arrow', select the 'Fill Effects' option. This will open the 'Fill Effects' dialog box.
  3. Select the 'Gradient' tab in the dialog box.
  4. You can choose one or two color gradients or choose readymade gradient presets.
  5. There are also a few shading styles. Each of which is previewed on selection.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Choose 'Apply to All' to apply the gradient to all slides or 'Apply' to reflect it on only the current background.

Tiles and Textures

Repeated seamless tiles can make great PowerPoint backgrounds too. Corel Painter has the 'Define Pattern' command, which makes creating seamless tiles a snap.

If you want to use readymade tiles, then Indezine has over 800 such patterns in 16 colors for you in our background section.

Tiles And Textures

PowerPoint comes built-in with a few default textures as well. Follow these steps to apply a tiled or textured background:

  1. Select Format -> Background.
  2. In the drop down list next to a 'down arrow' , select the 'Fill Effects' option. This will open the 'Fill Effects' dialog box.
  3. Select the 'Texture' tab in the dialog box.
  4. You could choose any of PowerPoint's default textures. Alternatively, click the 'Other Texture...' button.
  5. This will open the 'Select Texture' dialog box, which in effect lets you browse and choose a graphic image.
  6. Navigate to the folder which contains the image required and select. Press the 'Insert' button.
  7. Press 'OK' in the Fill Effects dialog box.
  8. You'll be presented with the Background dialog box. Click 'Apply' to change the background for the current slide and click 'Apply to All' to change the background for the entire presentation.


Patterns are created using any two colors in combination with a set of default designs.


Patterns are rarely used as backgrounds, and that may be because they have to be handled with more care than any other background type. It's easy to create a patterned background which can strain the eyes of a viewer.

Choose the twin colors which form a pattern with care. The safest bet is to use light, pastel or neutral colors such as beige and baby pink, or lilac and grey. Such combinations don't intimidate.


Picture Backgrounds

Picture backgrounds are the most attractive of backgrounds. You should avoid picture backgrounds if your presentation consists of a lot of elements, unless the picture you're using is very neutral in its theme. This advice is rarely heeded! Everyone wants to use picture backgrounds these days. So, the debate nowadays is how to coordinate such backgrounds so that they look good and are usable as well.

Picture Backgrounds

In most cases, you'll have to tweak such backgrounds in an image editing application, trying out adjustments in brightness, contrast, gamma or saturation to attain an image which can be an acceptable background.

It's easy to change picture backgrounds using the techniques and step-by-step tutorials explained above on this page.


Multiple Backgrounds

Multiple backgrounds receive mixed reactions—first, let's define multiple backgrounds. PowerPoint allows you to selectively allot a separate background to an individual slide. This background overrides any background which may be an element of the Slide Master.

Quite often you may find that a long presentation can be monotonous, and you may attempt to break such monotony by using different backgrounds for a set of slides. This doesn't mean that you could use 30 different backgrounds for 30 slides!

Within these 30 slides (as an example), you could perhaps divide your presentation on the basis of content into 3 sets of 10 slides each. Thereafter, each of these sets could sport a different background. This has the added advantage of subtly reminding your audience about the changing of a topic during the presentation. Whatever you do, make sure that all different or multiple backgrounds in the slide are coordinated. The change in texture, color or anything else in the backgrounds has be visible—but not at the cost of continuity.


PowerPoint 2002's Multiple Masters

Finally, PowerPoint 2002 and newer versions allow multiple masters, a long requested feature. You'll find more details elsewhere on this site, under the comprehensive PowerPoint 2002 Overview

PowerPoint 2002/XP

You'll find more info about multiple masters at


See Also:

PowerPoint and Backgrounds

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