How to customise Keynote slides

How to customise Keynote slides
Mac Tip #453, 08 September 2010

You may like to change colours, fonts or images on an individual slide, or for all slides in a Keynote Theme. Here’s how.

Keynote Themes comes with a number of ready-made Themes. A Theme is a collection of slide masters, where the layout, fonts, colours and so on have been set up for you.

For example, the White and Black themes are very similar, but the White theme uses dark text on a white background, where the Black theme puts white text on a dark background. Other Themes offer various colour and font combinations.

When you choose a particular theme you’re choosing to use the fonts, colours and layout the theme provides.

Keynote title slide.

Keynote title slide.

Change individual slides

In my previous Tip I set up a Keynote file based on the Vellum theme. The Title slide uses two fonts: one for the slideshow title and one for my name.

The Title is 50 point Gill Sans Light in a particular shade of grey. And even if I type in lower case, the title appears in all caps.

The subtitle is 20 point Bradley Hand IT bold, and similarly all caps.

Keynote Format Bar.

Keynote Format Bar.

To change the font, weight, or size, use the pop-up menus in the Toolbar. If necessary, choose Show Format Bar from the View menu.

Select the text you wish to change and then choose the font, weight and size you need.

Notice that the Format Bar offers various other possibilities too, such as colour and alignment.

Keynote Text Inspector.

Keynote Text Inspector.

Change text margins and more

Select some text and call up the Inspector.

There’s a button on the Toolbar for this, or choose View Inspector from the View menu. An Inspector window appears, with several tabs. Click on the Text tab, represented by the letter T.

In the Text Inspector are several more Tabs: Text, Columns and Bullets.

The options on these text tabs allow you to set many characteristics of the selected text, such as paragraph spacing, character spacing, the type of bullet character, colour, and many more.

Hover over a button or slider and a Tooltip appears with information about what it does.

Use those options to make the text in your slide match how you want it to appear.

Master Slides

When you change the text on an individual slide it affects only that slide. What say you like most of a particular Theme, except the font, or a certain colour? You can change those things too, so that they affect every slide in your slideshow.

You must make your changes on the Master Slides as they provide the templates for all your slides.

Keynote Master Slides.

Keynote Master Slides.

Change Master Slides

Choose Show Master Slides from the View menu. A new section called Master Slides appears at the top of the lefthand column.

The Master Slides section contains a dozen or so thumbnails of slides of all different types: Title slides, bullet points, slides with images, blank slides and so on.

Select the Master Slide you wish to edit and use the Toolbar buttons or Inspector window options to make the changes you need.

Any changes you make will be reflected in all slides that use that particular Master as a template.

Note that if you’ve separately modified an individual slide already it may not reflect changes you make to its Master Slide.

To have an image, for example a logo or watermark, appear on all slides in your slideshow, add it to the Master Slides.

In the next Tip we’ll look at Placeholder text and images, that reserve a space for an image or text without defining exactly what that image or text will be.

Tell us in the Comments about your experiences with Keynote.

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  1. Bryan said:

    Is there a way to make the same change to multiple master slides at once. For example, can I select multiple master slides to insert a logo on or do I (really) have to go to each master and insert the logo on each?

  2. sofia said:

    So I now know how to make a whole new theme and have it shown in the Theme Chooser. I can also add new or modify master slides in the original themes that came with Keynote, but how do I then save those changes into that original theme without creating a whole new theme?

  3. Jim Frederick said:

    Change Master Slides does not work as described here. When I select either of the “Title & Bullets” masters, i get a slide with one bulleted line located in the middle of the lower text window, and the line reads “Double-click to edit”. This always happens when i begin a new presentation. This format is worse than useless to me. How do I get one of the “Title & Bullets” masters to actually appear in my slide presentation?

    I would switch back to using PowerPoint except all of the MS Office 2008 software crashes regularly (every 10 or 15 min) on my Mac.

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Jim, that’s odd. Are you certain you’re selecting the Master slide in the top portion of the left hand column, rather than the slide itself in the lower portion? See my last screenshot above.

      Which theme are you using?

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