Updated – Using Explore to improve your slides

Before we jump into the details of making your slides, you’ll probably want to set up the overall look of the slides. We can change the size of them, the layout of the text and images, and as we saw in the previous post, we can add a theme to our slides which can give it a distinct look.

To do this we’ll look at:

  • Page setup
  • Themes
  • Slide layouts
  • Duplicate slide
  • Reordering slides
  • Background
  • Using Explore to improve the look of your slides

Before we start, let’s just clarify what each of the above settings do.

Page setup – This controls the size of all the pages (slides)

Themes – Controls the look of all the slides – this affects the background, the layout, colour, and text

Layout – This controls the positioning of the text and images on the slide. Each slide can have a different layout. E.g. the first slide may just have a title, whereas, the following ones have bullet points and images.

Background – This controls the slide background. Think of it as controls what the slide paper looks like before you add text, etc. The most common things to do is to change the colour of the background or to add an image like wallpaper on that slide. Different slides can have different backgrounds.

Page setup

You can change the size of the page (slide) by going to page setup. Click on the “File” menu and selecting “Page setup”.


There are different presets or you can set the size exactly the way you want it.

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I must admit, I rarely change the default setting, but it’s good to know it’s possible and may be necessary for your situation.


In my previous post, we saw how we can radically change the look of our slides by selecting a theme for our slides,  which we can either be selected from the Theme sidebar or from the “Theme” button on the toolbar.


There are 18 to choose from, plus as we’ll see in a moment, there’s the option to import one. One thing I don’t like about the Theme toolbar, is that it only shows you the title slide format and not the content slides. One way to do this is to add a new slide.

Add a new slide, by clicking on the plus button in the toolbar. Now you have a title slide and content slide.


After you’ve clicked on a theme on the sidebar, click on a slide in the Slide Sorter on the left-hand side of the screen. Here you can quickly navigate between the slides, and in this case, see what the theme looks like for both the title and the content slides.


This is the title slide format:


This is the content slide format:


Slide layout

Once you have a theme, it’s now time to determine the layout of your slides. Above I’ve referred to title and content slides, which is oversimplifying what you can actually do. Presentations will vary from a simple title slide followed by a few slides with your content, to longer, more complex ones where you have a title, some content in various layouts, and maybe some section titles.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to change the format of your slides and you can make each slide of different format if you really want.

Let’s create a presentation with some of the different layouts available. I’ve already changed the title and subtitle of the slide 1 to “Giving a great presentation” and “3 top tips”.

I’m going to start with slide 2. Right-click on slide 2 in the Slides sorter then select “Apply layout” to open the layout options.


Alternatively you can access the same layout options from the Layout button on the toolbar.

The titles of each layout a fairly self-explanatory and come with a preview of each one.


Let’s make slide 2 a section header. Click on “Section header”.


Click in the text box to change the text. Here I’ll add “Tip 1”.


Next I need another slide, so I click on the plus button in the toolbar. Notice it copies the layout of the previous slide.


As above, right-click on slide 3 in the Slides sorter then select “Apply layout” to open the layout options. This time let’s select “Main point”.


Click in the text box to change the text. Here I’ll add “Raise the energy level!”. For now I won’t add an image.


Notice that the text box isn’t wide enough to fit the statement, so I need to make it a bit wider. Click on the text box, and you’ll see the blue border of the text box, which has some little squares on it. Click and drag the square on the right-hand side in the middle, to make the text box wider.



I want to add another section header. Now, I could add a new slide and change the layout as before, but it would be easier to copy the previous one I made for Tip 1 (slide 2).

Right-click on slide 2 and select “Duplicate slide”.


Now click and drag that slide down so it’s at the bottom of the Slides sorter.

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Now, click on the text and change it to what you want, e.g. here I want it to be “Tip 2”.

I do the same duplicating for the tip 3 and for the main points. So, I end up with 3 tips.



Finally, I want to add a final slide but this time with a different layout. All I do is add a slide using the plus button, then right-click on it to open the layout options. here I’m going to leave the audience with something to think about, so I want an image with a quote at the bottom, so I select the “Caption” layout.


Here I’ll add an image (see my previous post) and add a quote in the caption at the bottom. I’ll also move that caption to the centre, so it looks a bit better.



On that last slide, I want to change the background colour. To do so, right-click on the white part of the slide (i.e. the background), then select “Change background”. This will open the background options.

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Click on “Colour” and you have a palette to choose from. Notice that as we’re using a theme, there is a special palette with colours that go well with that theme. I’m going to choose the yellow (that’ll wake the audience up!).

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As you see, it’s changed the background colour to yellow.


You can also use an image as your background, which can be good for including logos or just an image related to your presentation topic. Right-click on the slide, select “Change background” then next to Image “Choose”.


This takes you to the Insert background image dialogue box, where you can look for images in different places. I’ll cover this in more detail in a future post.


The image I want is on my Google Drive, so I go to Google Drive, then as I know it was recently uploaded, I go to “Recent”. I click on the image and press “Select”, then “Done”.


As you can see, I now have a beautiful river as my background.



Using Explore to improve the look of your slides

Explore can automatically suggest different looks to your slides based on the content of that slide.

Let’s take a few slides that we created before and see what it comes up with.

Here are some of the alternatives it suggests for that slide:

Now this one:

And finally this one:

It’s good for coming up with ideas as to how to lay out the particular slide you’ve selected, but as it does it slide-by-slide, the slides often don’t relate to each other and you end up with a presentation that doesn’t match in style.

eBooks available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, Slides, and Sheet Functions:

Baz Roberts (Google+Flipboard / Twitter)