PowerPoint Background Colors and Graphics

A group of people around a table during a presentation.

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Create visual interest in your PowerPoint presentations by adding a colorful background. Add a solid color or a gradient color to the background, choose a texture for the background, or use an image as a background picture.

Instructions in this article apply to PowerPoint 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; and PowerPoint for Office 365.

Use a Solid Fill Color for a Background

When you want a no-nonsense background, choose a solid fill color that doesn't distract from your text.

  1. Go to Design and select Format Background.

  2. In the Format Background pane, select the Color dropdown arrow to reveal a list of color choices.

  3. In the Theme Colors or Standard Colors section, choose the color you want to use for the slide background.

    Format Background menu in PowerPoint

    If you don't see a color you like, choose More Colors to create a custom color.

  4. Select Apply to All to use this background color on all the slides in your presentation. Skip this step if you only want to apply the background color to the current slide.

Apply a Gradient Fill to the Slide Background

PowerPoint has several preset gradient fills available as a background for your slides. Gradient colors can be effective as a PowerPoint background if chosen wisely. Be sure to consider your audience when you choose the preset gradient background colors for your presentation.

  1. In the Format Background pane, select Gradient fill.

  2. Select Preset gradients to open a list of gradient choices.

    Gradient fill option in PowerPoint
  3. Select a preset gradient fill.

  4. Select Apply to All to use the selected gradient on all slides in the presentation. Skip this step if you only want to apply the gradient fill to the current slide.

Gradient Fill Types For PowerPoint Background

Once you have chosen to apply a gradient fill to your PowerPoint background, you have five different options for the gradient fill type.

  • Linear: The gradient colors flow in lines which can be from preset angles or a precise angle on the slide.
  • Radial: Colors flow in a circular fashion from your choice of five different directions.
  • Rectangular: Colors flow in a rectangular fashion from your choice of five different directions.
  • Path: Colors flow from the center out to form a rectangle.
  • Shade from title: Colors flow from the title out to form a rectangle.

PowerPoint Background Textures

Use textured backgrounds in PowerPoint carefully. They are often busy and make text difficult to read. This can easily detract from your message.

When opting to choose a textured background for your PowerPoint presentation, choose a subtle design and make sure that there is good contrast between the background and the text.

To use a background texture, select Picture or texture fill in the Format Background pane.

Clip Art or Photographs as PowerPoint Backgrounds

Photographs or clip art can be added as a background for your PowerPoint presentations. When you insert a picture or clip art as the background, PowerPoint stretches the image to cover the whole slide, if the object is small. Because this can cause distortion to the graphic object, some photos or graphics can be poor choices for backgrounds.

If the graphic object is small, it can be tiled over the slide. This means that the picture or clip art object will be placed repeatedly across the slide in rows to completely cover the slide.

Test your picture or clip art object to see which method works the best.

Fade the PowerPoint Picture Background

In most cases, the picture background you choose should not be the focal point of the PowerPoint presentation. Once you have chosen the picture as a background, make it transparent by typing in a specific transparency percentage or by using the Transparency slider to get the effect that you want.

Pattern Backgrounds on PowerPoint Slides

The option to use a pattern for a background is certainly available in PowerPoint. However, use a pattern that is as subtle as possible, so as not to distract the audience from your message.

  1. In the Format Background pane, select Pattern Fill.

    Pattern Fill in PowerPoint
  2. Select Foreground Color and choose a color.

  3. Select Background Color and choose a color.

  4. Choose a Pattern to see the effect on your slide.

  5. When you have made your final choice, close the Format Background pane to apply to this one slide or select Apply to All to add the pattern fill to all slides in your presentation.