Themes, styles and templates in Word and Powerpoint

Apps & Software

Microsoft Office is undoubtedly the most popular office suite. However, many users do not always deal with it efficiently. However, this suite has a number of ingredients that not only allow you to work faster but also make your workpieces more beautiful and consistent. Ingredients such as themes, styles, and templates in Word and PowerPoint, how do you get started?

Tip 01: Office theme

Many Office users are hardly familiar with the concept of Office themes. Nevertheless, even if you use multiple applications in the office suite, this is an ideal way to give your workpieces a consistent and professional look with matching colors, fonts, and so on. The working method in the various applications (from Office 2016) is similar but we mainly focus on PowerPoint because this highly visually oriented application offers the most options.

To give a presentation of a (different) theme, you just have to open the Design tab and click on the arrow at the bottom right of Themes: a panel with more than forty themes will appear. You just have to hold the mouse pointer over the miniature of such a theme to see a live example. With a mouse click you actually apply the theme, but if necessary you can undo this decision quickly with Ctrl + Z.

An Office theme is an excellent method for quickly displaying your corporate identity

Tip 02: Color scheme

It will, of course, be even more fun and personal if you design your own Office theme, which, for example, fits in well with the house style of yourself, your association or company. Since an Office theme always includes a color scheme, we think that is a logical starting point. As mentioned, we do that here in PowerPoint. Open an empty presentation, go to the Design tab and click on the arrow at the bottom right of the Variants section. A drop-down menu pops up, where you select Color and Adjust Colors in turn – unless your house style just happens to match one of the standards suggested color combinations.

However, we assume that you want to use the typical colors of your company or association and that you have the RGB values of those colors. You proceed as follows. Click the arrow next to one of the theme colors and choose More colors. Open the Custom tab and enter the percentage share of the colors Red, Green, and Blue in the RGB Color Model. Optionally you can also select the color model HSL, which translates as hue, intensity (saturation) and brightness (luminance). Confirm with OK, provide your color scheme with an appropriate name and save it with the button Save.

Color models

Suppose you have the house colors of your association or company, but that you have received it in a color model that is not supported by Microsoft Office, such as hex, cmyk or ral. No worries, you solve this with the help of free online conversion tools.

To transfer hex colors to the supported RGB color model, you can use this web page. You fill in the hexadecimal color code (for example # B68CE0) and you see the matching RGB colors appear, in a custom page color (for example 182,140,224).

To convert CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) you go here and for a conversion table of the ral model, you can go here for example.

And who has the colors of his company only on a picture: on imagecolorpicker.com you can send the picture with the button Upload your image and Send image and then click with the mouse pointer the desired color.

Tip 03: Fonts

A house style is of course more than just a beautiful color palette. We can imagine that you also want to use specific fonts. That is of course also possible. To do this, open the drop-down menu under Variants (see tip 2) again, where you select Fonts / Fonts this time. A dialog box appears in which you select the desired font for both the header and the body text. If you do not find your way among the selected fonts, know that there are countless other, often free fonts available online, such as dafont.com Installing such a downloaded font is usually no more difficult than extracting the file, clicking the ttf or otf file with the right mouse button and Select Install: it then pops up between your other fonts. Mind you, not all fonts are equally high quality; also check if there is no copyright on it.

Finally, give the theme types a suitable name and confirm with Save.

Tip 04: Background

A slideshow may also have a suitable background (color). You open the drop-down menu under Variants (see tip 2) where you choose Format background styles. The corresponding panel appears on the right and selects a suitable background under the Fill option, such as Fill with Gradient or Fill with image or texture. This last option can be interesting if you want to use your own image, such as a logo, as a background. Under the Insert image from the description, click the File or Online button, after which you import the desired picture. With the slider in Transparency rule your transparency and if you place a checkmark in Pictures adjacent textured as it is possible to bring up your image as a (bitmap) pattern in the background. Confirm your choices with the Apply anywhere button.

For the sake of completeness, we mention the option Effects in the drop-down menu for Variants: you will find a collection of fifteen effects here, but the sense of this escapes us a bit.

Tip 05: Slide model

If you also want to return some graphic element in your slides, then you also adjust the function ‘slide master’ of PowerPoint. You do that as follows. Go to the tab image and select Slide Master in Section Model Views. The tab becomes visible and the left-hand panel now appears at the very top of the actual slide model, with the related slide layouts below. You can now edit this slide model to your liking: you will notice that all adjustments are immediately reflected in the underlying slides based on this model. This way, for example, it is possible to place a company logo in a corner of all your slides. You do that via Insert / Images, after which you pick up the desired image and position it in a suitable location. When you have finished your adjustments, confirm with the Close model view, right on the button bar.

Tip 06: Use theme

You have now finished just about all possible parts of your theme and so it’s time to summarize your edits in one big theme. To do this you open the menu Design, after which you click on the arrow at the bottom right under the heading Themes. At the very bottom, select Save current theme. Provide a suitable name for the theme and save it as an Office theme with the file extension .thmx with the Save button. The default location for such a theme is C: \ Users \ [account name] \ AppData \ Roaming \ Microsoft \ Templates \ Document Themes.

The theme is now ready for use. Let’s test that first in PowerPoint itself. Open a new, empty presentation via File / New and click just below the heading New on Custom: if it’s right, the theme you just saved will appear here. Click the theme thumbnail, and then click Create to open it.

Tip 07: Transfer theme

We have already indicated it earlier in this article: such a theme can be used within the other applications of Microsoft Office. As an example, we will use our new PowerPoint theme in Word. Open a new, empty document in Word. Then go to the Design menu and click on the arrow under Themes, left in the Document Format section. At the top of the drop-down menu under Custom, you will now also see your own home theme. When you subsequently view the various parts of the Design tab, you immediately notice that the color palette and the fonts are tuned to that theme.

The same thing works in Outlook: open a new message, go to the Options tab and select the desired theme within the Themes group. In Excel this story is similar, only you can find the themes here on the page layout tab.

Such an Office theme is not only transferable to other Office applications, you can also share it with others. You do that as follows. Navigate with Windows Explorer to the path that we have listed in tip 6. The thmx file of your theme is now visible and it is enough to copy this file and give it to the intended people. As soon as they have put this file in the same location on their own PC, they can immediately get started.

You can also easily share themes and templates with others

Tip 08: Create template

The use of Office themes is not the only way to get consistency within your documents and presentations: a template file is an alternative. This approach has its advantages: some users or employees may be more familiar with this concept and it is also easier to include certain items, such as texts or graphics objects, in such a template file in advance.

We show in PowerPoint how you approach that. A plus point is that the initial method is almost identical to creating a theme. Tips 1 to 6 can, therefore, be performed calmly. Once all edits are done and your theme is saved, open a new slide in PowerPoint to which you then link the theme, as described in tip 6. You can now add all kinds of extra content to the slide. When you are done, open the File menu, choose to Save as and select the option PowerPoint template (* .potx) from the drop-down menu. Confirm with Save. You prefer to leave the file in the default storage location: C: \ Users \ [account name] \ Documents \ Custom Office templates.

Tip 09: Use template

Of course, the intention is to be able to reuse this template. That is not difficult. Start PowerPoint, choose File / New and just click on the New heading under Custom, where you open the Customs Office Templates folder. Click on the intended template and press the Create button – just like the same procedure as when opening an Office theme. From Tip 8 you now know where you can find such a template file. If you want to share this template with someone, then you only have to send that person that file, after which he/she can use it, after that person has saved it in the correct folder.

Now it can happen that you receive such a template file and that not all text – which was included in that template – appears to be in the correct font. You can do this as follows: select all the relevant slides in the thumbnail view in the left panel, click your selection with the right mouse button and choose to Restore slide.

Tip 10: Existing templates

You already know how to create your own templates, but building such a template from the ground up obviously takes time. A useful alternative is that you start from an existing template and possibly adopt it in the direction of your own house style. This time we take Word as an example. Go to the File menu and select New: in the Available section you will immediately find a series of ready-made designs, which you can further split up via search suggestions such as Presentations, Business, Training, Nature, etc. – you will find that just under the search bar. You can also type in your own search terms, such as Birth, Reception, Application and so on. Depending on the search term, related categories will appear on the right-hand side, each time with the number of available templates. Incidentally, it is quite possible that you will also receive templates for Office applications such as PowerPoint and Excel. This is the case, for example, when you search for something like ‘construction project’. If you plan to use a template more often, click on the little pin at the bottom right of the template: it will then be pinned to the top so that you will find it easier.

Tip 11: Edit template

Have you found a template that can be used as a starting point for a custom design, select that template and choose to Create? As we described in Tip 9, you can then modify this template at will and save it as your own template. In Word, you do that via Save as / Word template (* .dotx). In Excel, this is done via Save as / Excel template (* .xltx). If you use macros in your template and want to keep them, choose Word template with macros (* .dotm) and Excel template with macros (* .xltm).

If you keep the templates in the standard suggested folder, you will find them in both Word and Excel via File / New / PRIVATE.

More templates

Office already comes with a nice collection of templates, but you can find more online. For example, it is possible to browse from the browser in Microsoft ‘s library. You can navigate here based on the application (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), but also on the basis of the category (we counted sixty different categories). To retrieve a suitable template, simply select it and press the Download button.

You will also find an extensive collection at Hloom (approximately 1700 copies). Even more impressive (in their own words more than 100,000 presentation templates) is the collection of Smile Templates (unfortunately most are not free). The PowerPoint templates on FPPT and the Word templates on PT are free.

You also come a long way with a search via Google, but it is always appropriate to check such a template file first for potential malware with a free service such as virustotal.com

Tip 12: Styles

In addition to themes and templates, styles are also a convenient way to give your documents a more consistent layout. Moreover, you can also generate an automatic table of contents based on styles.

In order to edit Word to such a table of contents, you must first provide your chapter titles and your paragraph markings with a so-called layout style. If you do not stick to your own styles (yet), you can use the standard styles for convenience. Simply place the cursor in a title in your document, open the tab Start and click the right arrow under the heading styles so that the Styles panel opens. Here you select Kop 1 (after which Kop 2 will automatically appear if that is not the case). Then it is the turn of the cup of your first paragraph: for this, you choose now Kop 2 (after which also Kop 3appears in the list, etc.). That way you go off the hierarchy of your document. Of course, it takes time, but it can also be faster, to click on the desired style. Suppose you want to apply Header 3 repeatedly. Click on a cup with that layout style and click on the tab Start, in the section Clipboard, the paintbrush icon (Format Copy/paste) too. The cursor changes into a brush and you only have to click on the other cups. When you double-click on the icon, the brush will remain visible until you click the icon again.

An automatic table of contents does require some preparation

Tip 13: Table of contents

In fact, everything is ready to generate the table of contents, but what if you already applied (other) styles to your titles and headings? Then you have to tell Word which styles you can interpret as level 1, 2, 3 and so on. Position the text cursor in such a header, open the References tab, select Add text and choose the desired level.

You are now ready for the table of contents. If desired, you can add an extra page with Ctrl + Enter, after which you place the text cursor at the top of the page. Then open the References tab and click Table of Contents. You only have to select a suitable layout, after which it appears on the page, including page numbers. The Table of Contents / Custom Table of Contents option allows you to change the appearance of your table of contents in many different ways. To update the table of contents of a modified text, open References again and choose Update / Update in full.

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