Take advantage of slide reuse in PowerPoint presentations

Derek Schauland's tip on how to save time creating PowerPoint presentations makes use of the feature to re-use slides and apply design themes from previously created files.

Derek Schauland's tip on how to save time creating PowerPoint presentations makes use of the feature to reuse slides and apply design themes from previously created files.


Working with Microsoft PowerPoint can be both fun and frustrating. Lately this has been on the top of my list, because I've been doing a lot of documentation and training users at work. There are a few features in PowerPoint 2010 that can make some tedious tasks very simple. One of the handiest tips I've found is an easy way to reuse and share PowerPoint slides among multiple presentations without having to do a lot of copying and pasting between files. (Note: This trick will also work in PowerPoint 2007.)

Microsoft allows slides to be reused in PowerPoint, meaning that a great slide from one presentation can be used in future presentations without repeating the work or having to copy and paste. Slides from existing presentations can be pulled into slide decks from existing PowerPoint files and edited in the new presentation. You can also reuse design themes from one presentation to another.

To reuse a slide from a previous presentation, complete the following steps:

1.       Select the arrow at the bottom of the New Slide object on the Ribbon's home tab.

2.       Choose Reuse Slide from the fly-out.

3.       Select Open a PowerPoint File and browse to the presentation containing the slide that you want to reuse.

4.       Click Open.

This will bring the new slide into a task pane on the right of the PowerPoint window, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

These slide(s) are available for reuse.
Right-clicking on the reusable item will produce a menu of available options (Figure B). Choose one of the following actions:
  • Insert Slide: Inserts the selected slide into the current presentation
  • Insert All Slides: Inserts all slides from selected file into the current presentation
  • Apply Theme to All Slides: Applies the theme of the selected reusable slide to all the slides in the current presentation
  • Apply Theme to Selected Slides: Applies the theme from the reusable slide to the selected slides in the current presentation

Figure B

Select an option for the reusable slide.

To bring in a previously created design, select Apply Theme to All Slides. This will add the formatting and background information from one slide deck to the slides in the current file, avoiding the need to copy and paste the content.

PowerPoint also allows slides to be saved to a slide library, either in SharePoint or in a folder on your PC or network. This creates a repository of slides for later use, allowing great slides to be kept there instead of in their original presentation file.

By applying the formatting and design to the existing content, the need for copying and pasting is eliminated and a presentation-ready slide deck is quickly created. Hopefully this little time-saver will help you when creating PowerPoint slides in the future.

By Derek Schauland

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.