PowerPoint: Applying Themes

Lesson 7: Applying Themes



A theme is a predefined combination of colors, fonts, and effects. Different themes also use different slide layouts. You've already been using a theme, even if you didn't know it: the default Office theme. You can choose from a variety of new themes at any time, giving your entire presentation a consistent, professional look.

Optional: Download our practice presentation.

Watch the video below to learn more about applying themes in PowerPoint.

What is a theme?

In PowerPoint, themes give you a quick and easy way to change the design of your presentation. They control your primary color palette, basic fonts, slide layout, and other important elements. All of the elements of a theme will work well together, which means you won't have to spend as much time formatting your presentation.

Each theme uses its own set of slide layouts. These layouts control the way your content is arranged, so the effect can be dramatic. In the examples below, you can see that the placeholders, fonts, and colors are different.

The Frame theme and the Integral theme

If you use a unique slide layout—such as Quote with Caption or Name Card—then switch to a theme that does not include this layout, it may give unexpected results.

Every PowerPoint theme—including the default Office theme—has its own theme elements. These elements include:

  • Theme Colors: There are 10 theme colors, along with darker and lighter variations, available from every Color menu.
    Theme Colors
  • Theme Fonts: There are two theme fonts available at the top of the Font menu under Theme Fonts.
    Theme Fonts
  • Theme Effects: These affect the preset shape styles. You can find shape styles on the Format tab whenever you select a shape or SmartArt graphic.
    Theme Effects

When you switch to a different theme, all of these elements will update to reflect the new theme. You can drastically change the look of your presentation in a few clicks.

If you apply a font or color that isn't part of the theme, it won't change when you select a different theme. This includes colors selected from the Standard Colors or More Colors options and fonts selected from All Fonts. Using non-theme elements can be useful when you want certain text to be a specific color or font, like a logo.

You can also customize themes and define theme elements yourself. To learn more, review our lesson on Modifying Themes.

Applying themes

All themes included in PowerPoint are located in the Themes group on the Design tab. Themes can be applied or changed at any time.

To apply a theme:

  1. Select the Design tab on the Ribbon, then locate the Themes group. Each image represents a theme.
  2. Click the More drop-down arrow to see all available themes.
    Clicking the More drop-down arrow
  3. Select the desired theme.
    Selecting a theme
  4. The theme will be applied to the entire presentation. To apply a different theme, simply select it from the Design tab.
    The applied theme

Once you've applied a theme, you can select a variant for the theme from the Variants group. Variants use different theme colors while preserving a theme's overall look.

Applying a theme variant


  1. Open our practice presentation.
  2. Apply the Gallery theme, which has a light background with a wood texture at the bottom. Note: Theme names will appear when you hover over them.
  3. Select a variant of the theme.
  4. Here is an example of what your presentation might look like:
    Applying Themes Challenge