Using Sections in PowerPoint to Keep Organized

When you are working on a large PowerPoint presentation it is often necessary to rearrange the order of the slides. While there have always been many ways to do this (Copy & Paste, Slide Sorter View, Drag and Drop), these methods can be inefficient or inaccurate when you have to move a large number of related slides in a presentation. You might not select all of the slides you need to move, or you may drop the slides into the wrong position in your slide deck.

Another scenario that can be difficult to manage is when a large presentation is assembled from multiple slide decks into one file such as a corporate meeting where there are several speakers, each giving their own portion of the presentation. In this case, each speaker may want to use a different Theme for their slides, or the original order of the speakers on the agenda changes at the last minute and their slides have to be moved up or down in the slide deck.

Beginning with PowerPoint 2010 and into PowerPoint 2013, there is a more efficient solution for both of these scenarios – breaking the slide deck into Sections. The following illustrations will show you how easy this is to do.

First, let’s take a look at a presentation that has not been broken into Sections (the presentation will be shown in Slide Sorter View so you can see all of the slides).  


In this presentation, slide 1 is the Title slide, slides 2 – 6 contain mostly text with a picture off to the side, and the last five slides contain diagrams and tables. In addition, slides 7 & 8 pertain to a different topic (Customer Service), while slides 9-11 address Sales related topics.

For the sake of this example, let’s assume this is a presentation finished in terms of content, and that 3 different people will be delivering this presentation. Let’s say the HR Manager is to deliver slides 2-6, the Operations Manager is to deliver slides 7-8, and the Sales Manager is to deliver slides 9-11. Let us also assume that each person wants to use a different background theme for their slides. Finally, let’s assume that at the last minute, the Sales Manager has to catch a flight and needs to be first up on the agenda, so their slides need to be moved from the current position in the deck to the beginning of the presentation.

By breaking the presentation into Sections all of this will be very easy to fix and time efficient.

First of all, in the Slide Sorter view, select slide 2, and then on the Home Tab, in the Slides Group, click the Section button and choose Add Section as illustrated below.


This will create 2 sections in the presentation – an Untitled Section above slide 2 (new sections are inserted above the selected slide). Since slide 1 was not included in this section, it is assigned to a Default section as pictured below.


This process would then be repeated on slides 7 and 9. When this process is complete, the presentation will now be divided into 4 Sections. Slide 1 would be in the Default Section, and the other Sections would be Untitled as pictured below.


Then, by right clicking on a Section Header, each Section can be renamed as illustrated below.


The result would then give you unique names for each Section as illustrated below.


Now, the stage is set for rearranging the slides and using different Themes for each Section.

First, let’s change the Theme for a Section. In older versions of PowerPoint, only one Theme could be applied to a presentation. In PowerPoint 2010 (and beyond), each Section can use its own Theme. To do so, simply select the Section Header by clicking on it, and then go to the Design Tab and choose a Theme from the Themes Gallery as illustrated below.


Now, each Section is using a different Theme.

Finally, let’s make sure the Sales Manager can make their flight by collapsing the Sections and then dragging the Sections into a different order. Go back to the Home Tab, and in the Slides Group click the Section button and choose Collapse All as illustrated below.


The result is that you now only see the Section Headers.


You can then select a Section Header and drag it up or down to reorder the Section Headers. When you do this, all of the slides in the Sections go along for the ride!


Finally, you can go to the Home Tab and in the Slides Group, click the Section button and choose Expand All and admire your handiwork!


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