A key part of creating an effective presentation is to ensure the look and feel is professional and consistent. A mishmash of fonts, colours and slide layouts is sure to, at the least, distract an audience from your message and, at worst, have a negative impact on how they view your abilities. In Google Slides, editing Themes and Layouts is an easy way to make sure that your presentations have a set style that stays true to your brand. Getting to grips with the Google Slides Theme Builder and Layouts can also speed up your content creation, providing a strong jumping off point for all your future presentations.

Before we look at how to edit Themes in Google Slides, let’s take a step back and explain what the Theme actually is. The Theme (formerly Master) controls the style of every slide in your presentation. It allows you to set custom elements that can’t be edited or moved in normal view. For example, you can add backgrounds or logos, and make choices about fonts and theme colours that will apply to every content slide in your deck. Themes help give your presentation a consistent look and feel and locks certain elements so they can’t be easily edited.

Let’s look at how Google Slides Themes and Layouts can streamline your presentations creation process.

How to edit themes in Google Slides

To edit the Theme slide, start by selecting View in the menu bar and clicking Theme Builder. This opens a screen with slides set against a dark background. On the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see slide thumbnails divided under the headers ‘Theme’ for the first slide, and ‘Layouts’ for all subsequent slides. The ‘Theme’ slide sets the standard for the whole deck – anything you do to the first slide will be applied to every single one of your slides. To edit the Theme, you need to select that first slide.

Bear in mind that the Theme slide controls every slide in your deck! When you edit this slide, you are changing how every content slide in your presentation looks. For example, if you make the title red on this slide, every slide in your deck will have a red title. We recommend you set the style of your Theme slide before adding any content to your presentation, otherwise you might ruin your slides and have to redo all of your hard work!

Once you’ve selected the Theme slide in Google Slides, you can edit it to adjust the look and feel of your presentation. You can do things like alter your fonts or add a logo – these changes will impact every content slide in your deck. You can also adjust the style and positioning of all automatic textboxes in your presentation. This allows you to set a consistent position for titles, and to edit the automatic textbox padding, font size, and font style for all titles and body copy.

Let’s look at an example of how this works. For example, let’s say you want to use a particular background image or design on all your slides. To do this, select the Theme slide by clicking on it. Then, insert your image, either by clicking Insert > Image or by right clicking and pasting an image in. You’ll see that the image appears across every Layout slide below. If you then exit the Theme Builder (by clicking the white X in the top right-hand corner) you’ll see that the image was inserted onto all your existing slides. It will also appear on any new slides you create. This image will be fixed in place and can only be edited from the Theme Builder. By repeating this process, you can add smaller features that will appear across all of the slides in your deck, like a company logo.

How to change slide layout

By editing the Theme in Google Slides, you can also create a variety of different Layout slides. These layouts can be applied to individual content slides within your presentation. For example, you may want to create a set style for an agenda that you use in every deck you create, or a standard slide for displaying data sets in a table. Instead of creating these slides from scratch every time you need one (and making them slightly different every time), you can create Layout slides and then simply select that layout option whenever you want to use an agenda slide or table.

To edit Layout slides in Google Slides, open up the Theme Builder, and scroll down through the thumbnails on the left-hand side to the Layout slides that sit below the Theme slide. There are several example Layout slide styles already set up for you.

You can make tweaks and adjustments to these existing layouts, or you can create your own from scratch. To do this, create a new blank slide, by right clicking on the thumbnails on the left-hand side and selecting New Layout (or use the shortcut Ctrl+M). Just like editing the Theme, in Google Slides you can add images, shapes, and text boxes, create backgrounds, and adjust the text settings – though these changes will not automatically apply to every slide. Once you’ve finished editing a Layout slide, you can give it a specific name (something like ‘Title slide’ or ‘Menu slide’) by clicking the Rename button centred in the dark space above the slide and typing the name in the pop up window.

To apply the new layouts you’ve created, leave the Theme Builder by clicking the X in the top right-hand corner. Then select the slide you want to apply the new layout to, right click on the thumbnail of that slide, hover over Apply layout and select the correct layout from the drop-down list that appears. The layout will then be applied to the slide. Though creating Google Slides Layouts is really handy, and can cut down on your slide creation time, we suggest being selective about which Layouts you keep. If you have hundreds of layout options, it can be overwhelming particularly if you’re sharing the template with colleagues, so keep it simple.

Knowing how to edit Themes and Layouts in Google Slides empowers you to communicate your brand’s unique style in a consistent way, and helps your presentation look polished and professional. It can also help eliminate style inconsistencies and errors and save you the hassle of editing each slide individually to match your brand. This is especially useful if you’re working in a business with many employees, as you can easily set up a Slides template to enable others to work in the correct brand style.

For more useful tips on making presentations in Google Slides, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Google Slides, or, if you want to really level up your Google Slides skills, check out our 5 favourite video tutorials for creating fabulous effects in Slides

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Written by

Ian Wicks

Senior consultant;
Group messaging lead

View Ian Wicks's profile

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  1. Image of Robyn Robyn says:

    thank you for this! very helpful – easy to understand and clear presentation!

  2. Image of Naim Naim says:

    Informative post. I learned something new from your post. I think many people benefited from your post. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Image of Maggie Maggie says:

    Does google have a feature that allows you to add different backgrounds to multiple slides? It takes so long to do one slide background at a time. Thank yous!

    • Image of Ian Wicks Ian Wicks says:

      Hi Maggie, you should be able to create different backgrounds for different slides using Layouts – does this answer your question or did you have something else in mind?

  4. Image of Lorenzo Lorenzo says:

    Not true. In the “View” menu, there is no “Master” item.

    • Image of Ian Wicks Ian Wicks says:

      Hi Lorenzo, since the time of writing the name was changed to Theme builder. Select that instead and you’ll have what you need. Thanks!

  5. Image of Helen Helen says:

    Hi, the background image in the slide master of the template I am using is not selectable. Is there a way around this?

    • Image of Ian Wicks Ian Wicks says:

      Hi Helen, there are two ways to put an image in the background in the slide master. One is to click the background tab in the ribbon and then upload an image. The other is to simply insert an image and stretch it to the correct size. It’s possible you’ve done the first option, if so you wouldn’t be able to directly select the image. Try the second and see if that works. Thanks!

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