PowerPoint for Non-Designers: Color

Real talk: most PowerPoints are lame. PowerPoint is the most prevalent design tool used in the business world and yet it is primarily used by non-designers. People slack on the design either because they think it’s too hard or they’re focused only on the data.

PowerPoint for Non-Designers: Color || Hustle-Blog.com

However, with just a few tips you can efficiently churn out some quality, clear presentations-- and free up time for you to tinker with your data as much as you want.

You can trust me-- I’m a nerd about PowerPoint.

This has been going on for about 1 ½ years. People made fun of me for staying in the computer lab until 10pm to work on presentations. Not the data--the slides. Then many of those same people asked for help on how to improve their own PowerPoints.

I’ll share with you what I taught them in my PowerPoint for Non-Designers series. We’ll dig into detailed concepts about presentation style, storytelling, and technical tips to make your next presentation beautiful and coherent. 

To kick it off, let’s talk about color.

First, match your style to your subject matter.

Keep this in the back of your mind at all times. Are you presenting financial data or pitching a marketing campaign? Let your topic drive the design. 

More data-heavy subject matter requires graphs, charts, and tables. You’ll want your color style to be fairly conservative. Save the bright, attention-grabbing colors for highlighting information in a marketing pitch deck. That subject matter gives more leeway into design and super sexy graphics.

Color Theory is your friend.

Remember that color wheel you dutifully drew in crayon back in 4th grade art class? Color Theory is the art and science behind how colors work together. For example, complementary colors are those that are opposite each other on the color wheel, like Red and Green. This means they look almost jarring next to each other, and could potentially be distracting.

For starters, I recommend picking either a warm or cool palette. You can nerd out about in-depth color theory later. Warm and cool colors are those  grouped together on one half of the wheel (Like from Green > Blue > Purple, aka "winter" colors). Staying within the same color tone is one of the easiest ways to make everything appear more cohesive.

Pick a color scheme.

A consistent color palette gives your entire PowerPoint a cohesive, polished look. Pick a couple colors and stick to them. I recommend using 3-4 + an accent color. You could go up to 6 total colors, but any more than that and you risk losing your message in a rainbow of colors.

Get inspiration from Design-Seeds.com or Adobe Color.

Keep in mind that some colors don’t project well, so if you’re able to test out the projector before your presentation all the better. I’ve noticed that reds and oranges tend to look alike, and yellow sometimes doesn’t even show up. 


Design Seeds is awesome for finding inspiration. It’s visually pleasing and helps you envision beautiful photographs as a color palette.

Adobe Color gives you various options to play around with a color wheel, and then provides the RGB and HEX codes-- the numbers assigned to specific colors that are standard. You can easily add a color into PowerPoint by creating a Master Palette...

Create a Master Palette.

So you know what colors you want to use. To save you time while building your deck, set up a master color palette by editing your Slide Master. This is the template from which each new slide in your file is built. 

Go to any slide > View > Slide Master

Customize your deck's color palette in the Slide Master view

From the Slide Master tab hit “Colors” > Customize Colors. This will give you a pop-up.

Add your colors

From here you can add in each of those colors you wanted. Click on More Colors > Custom.

Grab the color code you want from Adobe Color. Then input the RGB code for the color you want.

Once you’ve added your colors, name your palette and save it. Now every new slide in your deck will have the same colors (and even different shades of them).

Hurray, consistency!

Next we’ll tackle my next nerdiest favorite, font (aka “typography”).

What are your favorite colors to use in PowerPoint?