Slide Master in PowerPoint

The structure of a document or webpage is achieved through the use of correctly marked headings. These are announced by a screen reader so that a blind person can navigate and understand the content. In PowerPoint, it is more difficult to create headings that will be announced by a screen reader. The only way to do this, is by using the slide master.

What is the slide master?

According to Microsoft:

A slide master is the top slide in a hierarchy of slides that stores information about the theme and slide layouts of a presentation, including the background, colour, fonts, effects, placeholder sizes, and positioning.

The following video explains the slide master in more detail, including how it relates to accessibility.


Editing the slide master

If you have chosen a design and only want to make some minor changes to it, you can edit the selected slide master and then each new slide that you add from it, to your presentation, will already have structural elements such as headings. The following video shows you how.


Creating a new slide master

The next video is more advanced and is aimed at situations where you want to create your own design from scratch. This would enable you to create a template that could be shared, for example in a workplace, so that everyone used the same branding.


How headings read with JAWS

Most content designers do not have access to JAWS for testing purposes. The next video shows how a short presentation reads with JAWS. Pay close attention to how it reads headings. It also shows how Windows Narrator reads the same presentation. You may notice that they use different terminology to announce the headings/titles but the intention is the same. It gives a structural outline to the user.

You may also notice that Narrator is set to read quite quickly, whereas JAWS reads more slowly. This is purely my personal settings. I use JAWS to demonstrate more often and the slower speed is easier for people listening for the first time. I tend to use Narrator more for testing and it is more efficient to speed it up. Real users will set their speed to suit their own needs and preferences.