A Guide to Using PowerPoint Slide Layouts

Choose the right format to get your message across

Microsoft PowerPoint can be a powerful tool for communicating certain kinds of messages, particularly in work and school settings. To make the most of it and get your message across most effectively, you can take advantage of the application's variety of slide layouts.

Here we describe each layout and why you would want to use it. We also show you how to change the layout of an existing slide or choose the layout for a new one.

This article applies to PowerPoint 2019, PowerPoint 2016, PowerPoint 2013, and PowerPoint for Microsoft 365.

How to View Layout Options

When you open a new presentation in PowerPoint, you see a single slide with the Title Slide layout. To view the other slide layouts available, on the ribbon select Home > Slides > Layout. Let's explore each of the layouts so you can choose the ones that are right for your presentation.

MS PowerPoint with layout options displayed

Title Slide

When you begin a new presentation in PowerPoint, the application assumes you'll start with a title. The Title Slide layout could be used to convey other information, but it's designed to be a single slide for a title and subtitle at the beginning of your presentation.

MS PowerPoint presentation with title slide displayed

Title and Content

The Title and Content slide layout is the simplest aside from the Title Slide. It's designed for exactly what it says: a title and content related to that title. Note that you can insert not just text but other types of content as well:

  • Table
  • Chart
  • SmartArt Graphic
  • Picture
  • Online Picture
  • Video

When you begin to populate your slides, a Design Ideas panel appears on the right side of the screen. You can select any of the designs you like, or close the panel by selecting X in the upper-right corner.

MS PowerPoint slide using Title and Content layout

Section Header

The Section Header layout is designed to announce the information contained in the next few slides. In our presentation example, the section header title is Acme System Modules. This title signals to the audience that the next few slides will discuss the various modules contained within the Acme System. Typically you should only use Section Headers if you have at least two sections.

MS PowerPoint presentation with Section Header slide layout displayed

Two Content

The Two Content slide layout gives you ample room for two types of content. Of course, you can add more than one type of content in any slide, but this format creates predefined areas for each type, making your slide look polished without you having to move content boxes around.

MS PowerPoint with Two Content slide layout displayed


The Comparison layout is similar to the Two Content layout. The exception is that the Comparision layout provides areas in which to place headings for each of the two sections. The idea here is that you'll be comparing two things in the main text area and naming them in those headings.

MS PowerPoint presentation with Comparison slide layout displayed

Title Only

The Title Only layout is exactly what it says, a slide with a placeholder for only a title, no content. You could add a new content box to place content in if you want. If not, you might want to use this type of layout when you don't yet have information about the topic in the title or when you want to fill the remaining space with an image rather than text.

MS PowerPoint with Title Only slide layout displayed


The Blank slide layout is handy for when you want to create your own layout, especially when none of the other layouts seem appropriate for your content.

MS PowerPoint with Blank slide layout displayed

Content With Caption

The Content With Caption layout is designed to display a few brief bullet points with a title and caption to explain at a glance what they're about. As with all the other layout options, you can put any kind of content you want into the content boxes but this design works well for its intended purpose.

MS PowerPoint with Content With Caption slide layout displayed

Picture With Caption

This layout is similar to Content With Caption, except that a picture rather than content is the primary element on the slide. The title and caption still work well for describing the primary content.

If you select the picture icon, you'll only be able to select a picture already on your hard drive, not an online picture.

MS PowerPoint presentation with Picture With Caption slide layout displayed

How to Choose or Change Layouts

If you decide one or more of your slide layouts isn't quite right for the information you want to communicate, you can easily change them. Here's how:

  1. In the left rail, select the slide you want to change.

    MS PowerPoint presentation with one slide selected
  2. On the ribbon, select Home > Slides > Layout.

    MS PowerPoint presentation with layout options displayed
  3. Choose the layout you want and insert your content.

    MS PowerPoint presentation showing slide with new information added

Choose Layout Before Adding New Slide

You can also choose the layout when you're getting ready to add a new slide. Use the steps above, with these exceptions:

  • In step #1 choose the slide after which you want the new slide to appear.
  • In step #2 use the path Home > Slides > New Slide (down-arrow).
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