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How to use PowerPoint layouts – and not delete them

PowerPoint drains your energy every day.

In spite of wasting time on it, the results are still shabby.

Here is the solution.

PowerPoint misuse: deleting layouts - PowerPoint best practices by Dr. Nitin Paranjape

Estimated reading time 6 min

This is the first part of a series of articles. This article covers the problem and rest of the articles cover the available solutions and best practices. Total reading time for the entire series will be less than 20 min.

This is how we work!

  • Create a presentation
  • If you are lucky the default template comes up.
  • If you are unlucky, someone has created a special template for you – which is mandatory
  • In either case, first slide is title slide. We fill that.
  • Add another slide – that is typically Title and Content (Title and Text) slide
  • Copy paste things hoping that those will fit
  • If things don’t work as expected, press UNDO and do some kind of repair manually
  • If the title and text layout is not needed, delete the textboxes and put your own
  • Spend enormous amount of time aligning, struggling with misbehaving bullets and so on
  • Eventually create a shabby looking presentation


Lots of Effort >> Pathetic Output = Inefficiency Sad smile

What went wrong?

Almost everything went wrong. But there is ONE thing which is most wrong … That is called the lack of understanding about what a layout means. Even if you know what Layout means, we don’t use it properly. We just delete it and move on with our own thought process.

Focus for the next 4 minutes and your life will dramatically improve – while working with presentations.

Layouts are good. Choose the one you want

Default layout is Title and Content. If you don’t want it, choose another one.

Create the new slide with the desired layout


Added the default layout slide by mistake? No problem. Change the layout!


What if your needs don’t match the layout

This will happen very often. Here is what you do.

  1. Check if there is another layout available which is useful. Remember to scroll the Layout list. There can be many more layouts than you see on top.
    Recently, while working with a global IT company, I found 300 layouts in a single presentation. That was their default corporate template. Pathetic!
  2. If you cannot find a suitable layout, you have two options.
    Consider this issue carefully before you decide what to do.

    1. If this is a one-off requirement
      1. delete unwanted layout items and use what is left
      2. use existing layout elements and add more as required
    2. If what you need is likely to be used frequently, create your own layout
  3. In either case, keep the items aligned and distributed with respect to the slide to ensure a professional look and to eliminate manual work


Alignment problem

The primary purpose of layout elements is to ensure that things are automatically aligned and spaced out. If you delete layout elements, the job of alignment has to be done by you.

Remember our principle?
If you are helping PowerPoint – it means your method is inefficient!

In the next part of the article, we will see how to solve this alignment problem efficiently.

This is done using Guides (and Grid).

*** continued ***

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