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Understanding Theme Effects

If you’ve used a newer version of PowerPoint, you’ve most likely seen theme effects in action. When you open the Shape Styles, Chart Styles, SmartArt Styles, and Table Styles galleries, you can see how the current theme effects influence graphic fills, lines, bevels, and shadows. More importantly, you can change the theme effects to better suit your template design.

PowerPoint’s built-in theme effects include pre-programmed settings that specify degrees of intensity for fills, lines, and special effects such as shadows and bevels. Effects are grouped into three style levels: subtle, moderate, and intense. Subtle effects typically consist of flat color fills without shadows. Moderate effects take things up a notch by including gradients or shadows, perhaps. Intense styles usually have the most effects, including bevels and texture fills. See Figure 3.25 for examples of the three levels of effects. These levels are combined to create the styles you see in the various galleries throughout PowerPoint.

Figure 3.25

Figure 3.25. The settings for theme effects are grouped into three style levels: subtle, moderate, and intense.

PowerPoint includes 40 built-in sets of theme effects. Every theme has a different set of effects, each with its own unique characteristics. For example, some themes have a metallic look; others look frosted. The Equity theme (see Figure 3.26) has a vertical line pattern fill. The Paper theme (see Figure 3.27) includes a texture fill.

Figure 3.26

Figure 3.26. The Equity theme effect features vertical line fills.

Figure 3.27

Figure 3.27. A texture fill is included in the Paper theme effect.

You cannot edit the built-in theme effects using PowerPoint, nor can you build custom theme effects with PowerPoint. If you’re interested in building custom theme effects, see Chapter 12.

You can often make do by selecting one of the built-in effects schemes. Just choose one that works well with the look and feel of your template design.

When you’re developing a new template, you have to consider what style of effects best suits the template design. Think about how shapes, charts, tables, and SmartArt will look when different levels of effects are applied to them. Ultimately, the people creating slide content will be able to apply any style available in the galleries. You can determine which styles will populate these galleries by selecting an effects scheme that complements the template.

To see the differences between the built-in theme effects, try creating a sample slide with various types of content (see Figure 3.28). Include shapes, a chart, a SmartArt graphic, and a table with different levels of effects applied to this content. When completed, you can roll over the theme names in the Effects gallery to see how different themes look with this content.

Figure 3.28

Figure 3.28. A sample slide with various types of content and fill styles can help you determine which built-in effect theme works best with your template design.

To build a sample slide like the one shown in Figure 3.28, follow these steps:

  1. Add a new slide using the Blank slide layout.
  2. Draw a rectangle, select the Format tab, and open the Shape Styles gallery. Apply one of the styles from the second row (demonstrating subtle fill effects).
  3. Copy the rectangle you drew in step 2 and apply a style from the fifth row (moderate effects).
  4. Copy the rectangle you created in step 3 and apply a style from the last row (intense effects). Move the rectangles (if necessary) to make room for the rest of the sample content.
  5. Insert a chart, using the default data. Resize the chart and move it to a corner of the slide.
  6. From the Chart Tools Design tab, open the Chart Styles gallery and apply a style from the third row. This style features moderate effects.
  7. Insert a SmartArt graphic. The Basic Block List works well for this purpose.
  8. From the SmartArt Design tab, open the SmartArt Styles gallery and select the first style in the 3-D category (Polished), which includes intense effects. To get a better look at the effects applied to various accent colors, select Change Colors and apply the first style from the Colorful section. Resize and move the SmartArt graphic as needed.
  9. Insert a table. The example slide includes a 3 × 5 table. Including sample text in your table can help you check legibility when effects are applied.
  10. From the Table Tools Design tab, open the Table Styles gallery and apply a style from the Best Match for Document section. Resize and move the table, if necessary, to complete the sample slide.
  11. On the Design tab, click Effects to open the gallery (see Figure 3.29). Roll over each of the thumbnails to preview the effects on your current slide. You must click on an Effects scheme to apply it to the current file.
Figure 3.29

Figure 3.29. Roll over the thumbnails in the Effects gallery to see how each theme changes the settings on your sample slide.

Some of the theme effects include bevels, and others have glows or reflections. A few have texture fills. If your template is more suited to a subtle graphic style, consider choosing a simpler theme, such as Foundry or Pushpin (see Figure 3.30). Be cautious when choosing a more intense theme (for example, Equity, Flow, or Metro). Some intense effects make fills lighter, which can make text harder to read. Also, when all the graphics in a presentation include extreme special effects (glows, bevels, shadows, textures, and so on), the results can be visually overwhelming and distracting from the content, as shown with the Opulent theme in Figure 3.31. When in doubt, test the theme effects on a wide range of slides with different types of content.

Figure 3.30

Figure 3.30. The Pushpin theme effects feature a more subdued design style.

Figure 3.31

Figure 3.31. The Opulent theme features a high gloss gradient fill for moderate and intense effect styles.

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