CPS100 • Introduction to Computers

Lakeland College • Japan Campus


In a previous chapter, we went over the concept of layers. However, there are deeper layers in PowerPoint.

Every object in PowerPoint must be above or below any other object; therefore, we use layers. However, all of these objects we have used so far are just at the "top" of a presentation. In any PowerPoint presentation, there are actually four levels: two object levels, and two background levels.

The Slide

Each slide has two levels: the object level and the background level. On the object level, we can place shapes, text boxes, pictures, and many other objects we will go over in future chapters. On the background layer, we can add a fill (solid color, gradient, texture, or picture) which acts as a background to the slide.

The Slide Master

"Below" the slide, there is a Slide Master, a pair of levels similar to the slides. Just like with the slide levels, the "Master" levels have an object level and a background level. The main difference is that the master levels appear on every slide as part of the layout. If you create shapes in the Slide Master, they will appear on every slide; if you create a background in the Slide Master, it also will appear on every slide.

However, each of these appears below the slide level. The slide-level objects appear above the master-level objects, and the slide background appears above the master background. The levels are:

  1. Slide objects
  2. Master objects
  3. Slide background
  4. Master background

Those levels would appear like this:

Creating Backgrounds

Creating a background is fairly simple. Right-click on an empty space on the slide, and choose "Format Background" from the pop-up menu.

This opens up the "Format Background" dialog box, almost the same as the "Format Shapes" dialog we looked at earlier.

From here, you can apply the same kinds of fills to the background as you did to shapes: solid colors, gradients, textures, and pictures--with the same kinds of controls.

Notice, however, that at the bottom of the dialog, there are two buttons which allow you to place the background: Close and Apply to All. "Close" will set the background of the one slide; "Apply to All" will set the Slide Master, which will change the backgrounds of all the slides.

Getting It Straight

What happens if you have both a background for a slide, and a Slide Master background, at the same time? Simple: the slide background covers up the Slide Master background. If you delete the slide background, the Slide Master background will be revealed "beneath" it.

Similarly, if you create objects on a slide, they will always cover over objects on the Slide Master, no matter what layer the slide object is on.

Once again, the levels are, from top to bottom: (1) Slide objects, (2) Slide Master objects, (3) Slide background, and then (4) Slide Master background.

Creating Each Level

How do you put something on each level?

The top level, Slide Objects, is easy: just create the objects normally.

The second level, Slide Master Objects, is a bit more difficult: you must open the Slide Master and create objects based on Layouts. I will describe this in more detail below.

The third level, Slide Background, can be created by choosing a background in the "Format Background" dialog box.

The fourth level, Slide Master Background, can be created the same way as the regular background, except you click on "Apply to All" instead of just "Apply."

The Slide Master View

So, how do you put objects on the second (Slide Master Objects) level?

First, go to the Views tab in the Ribbon. The fifth button from the left in the "Presentation Views" area is called "Slide Master." Click on that button.

When you enter the Slide Master, all of the slides you created before will disappear; don't worry, they're still there.

Effectively, by entering the Slide Master, you made the 1st and 3rd levels invisible, leaving only the Slide Master levels visible. Note that the Ribbon has changed: now, the first tab says "Slide Master," and the other tabs are slightly different--these tabs apply only to the Slide Master.

It is important to note that the left-hand sidebar has now changed. The sidebar now displays the slide layouts--remember, the slide designs we saw in Chapter 2, "Layouts and Themes."

This is a new point: each Layout can have different objects and backgrounds. For example, you can set a specific background design and specific objects which will appear only when you use the "Title Slide" layout, and then you can set a different background and set of objects which will appear behind the actual slides, only when you use the "Blank" layout. Just click on the layout you want to change, and apply the changes. Conversely, if you want an object to appear on all slide layouts, then you must place it in the largest box at the top.

Note: you can place any object you wish on the Slide Master object level--shapes, text boxes, tables, charts--even sounds and movies which will play on each slide in which they appear.

If you want Slide Master objects and backgrounds to appear on every slide, then you must scroll up to the top of the left sidebar and click on the largest layout at the very top:

When you are finished, click back on the Slide Master tab, and then on the right side of the Ribbon, click the red "X" button to leave the Master View.

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