To format the background of your PowerPoint presentation, right click on a slide and select Format Background. If you can’t see that option, it may be that you have right clicked on some element like a picture or a text box, so right click on a blank area of the slide. The Format Background panel will appear to the right of the workspace.
A gradient is a smooth transition from one colour to another, and gradient backgrounds can look cool. When you select the gradient fill option, extra options will appear on the panel. Here is an explanation of what each one does:
When you click on Preset gradients, PowerPoint shows you all the ready made gradients that you can use with just one click.
Click on your chosen background to apply it to the currently selected slide. Although you have selected a preset background, you can still amend it to your own requirements using the following options.
The type of gradient you choose controls the shape and orientation of the gradient.
- Linear – the colours in the gradient change on a straight line.
- Radial – the shape of the gradient is circular, with one colour being the “focus” and the change in the colours radiating outwards.
- Rectangular – like the radial gradient, but the shape of the gradient is rectangular.
- Path – similar to radial or rectangular gradient types, but they radiate using a shape as a path. A triangular shape shows a triangular gradient, a star shows a star-spread gradient, etc.
- Shade from title – applies a gradient fill to the background that begins from the slide title and ends on the edges of the slide.
Direction could equally be called orientation, because this option doesn’t just control the direction of the colour change in the gradient (e.g. in a linear gradient), but it also controls where the focus is (e.g. in a radial gradient).
Used with the direction option, angle controls the orientation of the gradient. For some types of gradient, like radial, the angle is meaningless (and therefore disabled), but for others, like linear, the angle is useful. And angle of 45 degrees on a linear gradient means that the colours change along the direction of an imaginary straight line that travels at 45 degrees to the horizontal.
Gradient stops, colour, position and transparency
These options all work together and control what colours you see in the gradient, how close they are together and how transparent they are.
To add a new colour stop, click on a blank area of the gradient ramp:
To remove a gradient stop, drag it off the gradient ramp.
You can change a stop’s colour by selecting it and then clicking on the colour selector.
You can easily change the distance between the colours in your gradient by dragging a stop along the ramp, but you have even more control by typing in a precise number into the Position box. This is a percentage that represents how far along the ramp the stop is in relation to the left edge of the colour ramp.
The transparency option controls how see-through the colour is. You can either drag the slider to change the value, or type in a precise percentage.
Once happy with your gradient settings, you can choose to apply the gradient to all slides in your presentation by clicking the Apply to All button at the bottom. If you don’t, the gradient background will only appear on the currently selected slide.
If you decide that you have made a hash of things, you can always click Reset Background, at the bottom.
The best thing to do to get a feel for how each type of gradient looks is to try each one out. You can always ctrl + z to undo what you have applied.