PowerPoint Backgrounds

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When building a PowerPoint slide, it’s important to understand what a background is, and to know some of the tricky issues that can arise when using them.

What are PowerPoint backgrounds?

PowerPoint backgrounds are images or design elements that are placed on slides behind text, charts, images, and other objects.

PowerPoint backgrounds can have a number of different attributes:

  • They can be solid colors, images, shapes and graphics, and any combination thereof.
  • They can be a part of a custom PowerPoint theme or standalone.
  • They can be the same for all the slides in a presentation, or they can be different for each slide.
  • They can be placed on a slide itself, or on the Slide Master.

What are the differences between a PowerPoint background and a PowerPoint theme?

In PowerPoint, a theme includes the slide backgrounds set in the presentation. However, even once a them has been applied to a presentation, you can go in and change each slide’s background independently of the theme.

Read this article to learn more about PowerPoint themes.

Where to download PowerPoint backgrounds

Because PowerPoint backgrounds can be any number of things, there’s no one place to go to download them.

If you want to create your own PowerPoint background, there are lots of places we recommend to download free images and graphics that you can use to create your own background.

But if you want a pre-built one, here are some places to get free PowerPoint backgrounds*:

  • Presentation Magazine - These are by far the best pre-built PowerPoint backgrounds you’ll find on the web, with modern, stylish, and simple options to choose from.
  • Free PPT Backgrounds - As its name suggests, this site offers a wide variety of decent free PowerPoint backgrounds for download.
  • SlideTeam - While many are quite cheesy, there are a few gems here and there if you’re willing to search for them.

*Warning: Most of the free backgrounds online are unattractive and cheesy. Our recommendation is to make your own and keep them simple.

How to insert PowerPoint backgrounds

Inserting PowerPoint backgrounds into your presentation is easy. There are just a couple things to be aware of.

First, you need to know where you want your background to go, so that you know where to place it:

  • On just one slide,
  • On a few slides,
  • Or on all slides.

Once you know where it goes, here’s where you’ll want to insert your background.

On just one slide

Go to that slide (make sure you’re in the Normal View and not the Slide Master View) and right-click the slide space and select ‘Format Background.’ Choose from the options to insert your PowerPoint background.

On a few slides

Go to the Slide Master View and find the layout associated with the slides you want the background to appear on. Then right-click the slide space and select ‘Format Background.’ Choose from the options to insert your PowerPoint background.

On all slides

Go to the Slide Master View and find the parent layout (the largest and top-most one). Then right-click the slide space and select ‘Format Background.’ Choose from the options to insert your PowerPoint background.

Pro Tip: Make your backgrounds readable

When deciding on a background for your slides, make sure that any text you add to your slide is readable.

You can do this on a macro level by changing the background style in the Ribbon under Design > Variants > Background Styles. These styles are tied to the color palette associated with the theme you are using.

Note that changing this setting will override any custom PowerPoint background you’ve added to your presentation, so make sure you do this step first.

How to change a PowerPoint background

At any point, you can change the background of a PowerPoint presentation or individual slide by following the same steps listed above to insert a PowerPoint background.

You can also reset your PowerPoint background at any time by reverting back to the background style set in the theme by going into the Ribbon, and going to Design > Variants > Background Styles.

These styles are tied to the color palette associated with the theme you are using.

Warning: Changing this setting will override any custom PowerPoint background you’ve added to your presentation, so be sure you want to do this before you do.

If you do it by mistake, simply hit CTRL+Z on your keyboard to undo the action.

What's next?

Updated on March 19, 2018

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