Microsoft PowerPoint remains one of those pieces of software that appears to be a mystery to many people, although it is arguably one of the most useful, especially for anyone in business. As a virtual assistant, you are no doubt going to be tasked with creating or refining a PowerPoint presentation at one time or another, and will no doubt be expected to be an expert in it too!

The background of a slide is simple to change, and yet we see so many white slides in presentations! Here’s how to add a splash of colour to your slides in Microsoft PowerPoint 2010.

On the ‘design‘ tab under the ‘background‘ group click the button in the corner of the group box to open the ‘format background‘ box. You’ll then see a number of options available to you with regards to formatting the background colour and style of your slides. These formats can be applied to a single slide or to a whole presentation.

When the dialog box opens, the fill tab is presented by default. Here you can see that you can fill the slide with a colour in various ways, either as a solid fill, gradient fill, texture, pattern or even a picture.

Let’s start by looking at an ordinary solid fill

  • First make sure that you click the solid fill radio button
  • Next, click on the colour drop down button to reveal the colours to choose from
  • If you want to set you own custom colour you can select ‘More Colours’
  • After you have made your colour choice, you will see the slide behind the dialog box change colour. You can also use the transparency slider bar here to modify the transparency of your background colour.
  • Click ‘close‘ to apply to just the single slide or ‘apply to all‘ to apply this background to your whole presentation.

How about a gradient fill?

How about using the pre-set gradient to create a pretty colour effect on your background? Follow the same steps as above, but this time select the ‘gradient fill‘ radio button. You then see the gradient page with several options for you to choose from. Here you can select a pre-set gradient and then modify it using the various slider options.

You are able to adjust the type of gradient (linear, radial, rectangular etc.) and also the direction of the gradient using the options in the relevant drop down boxes.

Quick tip: if you are modifying a pre-set gradient, you will see the ‘gradient stops’ bar with a number of tabs on it, click each of the tabs before adjusting the colours, brightness and transparency to adjust each section of the gradient individually.

Using clip art or photographs

You can also use images in your Microsoft PowerPoint backgrounds, however, these can often cause issues. Not least because a photograph can often make the slide appear too ‘busy ‘but also because there are many issues with the images becoming distorted when you apply them to a slide.

The best way to see if your image or photograph will work is to test it out first, try stretching it or tiling it by clicking the check box ’tile picture as texture‘. Another option is to offset your image from the edges of the slides so that it appears centres without being stretched.

How to do this:

  • Select the picture or texture fill radio button
  • Select insert from ‘file’ and browse to the location of your image
  • Select the image and click ok. You will see your image appear on the slide behind the dialog box
  • Then using the ‘offsets’ text boxes, enter the percentage amount that you want to offset your picture from the edge of the slide. If you enter the same amount for all four sides of the slide, this will ensure that your image remains centred and in proportion.
  • Finally, you can use the transparency slider to blend your image into the background of your slide