You’ve developed your ideas, created a great storyboard, chosen photos, charts and graphics to illustrate your message. What pulls it all together?

Color. Color communicates, motivates, and persuades. Color emphasizes and hightlights information. Color helps carry a company’s identity.

You’ll achieve more professional and sophisticated presentations if you follow a carefully chosen palette of colors. A well-designed presentation template utilizes a consistent color scheme throughout in title and text slides, logos, chart colors, lines, fills, tables and other graphics. Establishing the color scheme should be one of the first steps in building a presentation or template.

What colors should make up your primary PowePoint palette? The first and obvious source for colors and layout ideas comes from your branding materials, logo, marketing collateral and corporate website. If these materials don’t exist, then look for colors that work well together and provide a range of choices. The field is wide open here—there are many sources for inspiration. One place to start might be to look at the websites of companies that work in similar fields.

Just experiment and don’t worry about it too much—you can edit the color scheme at any time.

Creating a color scheme in PowerPoint 2003

PowerPoint 2003 provides eight colors in a permanent primary scheme, and another eight colors in a nonpermanent secondary scheme. To edit the primary color scheme:

  • On the main menu, select Format > Slide Design
  • In the Slide Design task pane (on the right side of your screen), select Color Schemes.
  • Select Edit Color Schemes (at the bottom of the task pane window).

The primary color scheme. What you will see are the eight color blocks that make up the primary color scheme. Notice that each color block has a function: Background, Text and Lines, Shadows, etc. This is useful to know and the colors do function as described. Just keep in mind that you can use and apply these colors in many other ways as you develop your slides.

The top two color blocks. It is a good idea to include white and black (or some other dark color) in the primary color scheme. If your presentation has a dark background, you may wish to assign the dark color to the first color block (Background). In this case, the second color block (Text and lines) would likely be white.

To change a color in the primary color scheme, simply double click on the color block to access the Fill Color window. You can choose a preset color in the Standard tab or create your own colors in the Custom tab. Bluewave designers almost always create custom colors for presentation templates, although there are exceptions.

The remaining six color blocks. This is where it gets creative. If you don’t have a specific color in mind, just experiment with colors in the Standard or Custom tabs. The Custom tab contains two color models: RGB and HSL. In essence, these are just two different way of selecting colors. The RGB model allows you to specify colors by their red/green/blue values. If you know a color’s RGB values, you can enter them in the Custom tab. With HSL you can create colors by hue/saturation/luminance values. Drag the color sliders to see what develops.

 Colors to consider

  • Colors that are easily visible when viewed on a monitor or projected onto a screen in a bright room
  • Colors that are complementary (different hue, same saturation level)
  • Colors that are of same hue, different saturation
  • Colors that contrast well
  • At least one bright, saturated color (useful for highlights)
  • Black or white, if you haven’t used them or their equivalents in the first two color blocks
  • A medium-tone neutral (gray, for example)