How to Create a Custom Color Palette in PowerPoint

I always recommend using a color palette when you build slides. You will get your work done faster, enjoy building slides more and the slides will look more professional. One of the best places for creating a color palette is Kuler.

After you’ve created your color palette, you’ll want to program it into PowerPoint. Let me show you how. First, here is the color palette I use.

To build a custom color palette, the first thing you’ll do is go to Design > Colors > Create New Theme Colors. You’ll meet an interface that looks like this. It’s a bit confusing, so let me explain what you’re looking at.


1. Accent 1. This will be the default color when you draw lines and shapes. I recommend using gray for Accent 1, or whatever color you want your shapes to automatically contain.


2.Accent 2-6. The 5 colors from your color palette go into Accent 2-6. If you have more than 5 colors in your color palette, you can add them as Text/Background colors (described later).

 3. Hyperlinks. For hyperlink colors, choose one of your darker accent colors. For followed hyperlink, choose a lighter version of that accent color. Light colors indicate it’s been “depleted”


4. Text/Background – Dark 1 and Light 1 are your text colors. Dark1 can be black. Light1 can be white. These colors show up in the first two columns of your color menu and if you choose black and white you’ll end up with a complete range of grays in increments of 10%. Or you can choose different text colors if you prefer.

5. Text/Background – Dark 2 and Light 2 are your background colors. To be honest, these are a bit of a mystery to me since I use a white background for business slides or one of my accent colors if I need a color background. If you have more than 5 colors in your color palette, you might add them here, or just choose 2 extra colors you think you might need.

Now just name your new color theme, click “Save” and you’re done. Once your new color theme is saved, you can select it any time and your Color Picker pull-down menu will show your custom color palette, ready for use.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.