Custom Colors

The process of adding Custom Colors to your PowerPoint Masters unfortunately is not as simple as clicking a button and selecting a color. It includes many steps and requires some techniques you might not be familiar with. Therefore, we’ll give you a detailed step-by-step guide of how to achieve this only using the standard Windows tools.

Preparation – File extensions must be visible

If you open Windows Explorer and navigate to a folder containing a Presentation, the file name must end on .pptx (or .potx for a Template). By default, Windows hides file extension from the user, only denoting the file type PowerPoint Presentation in the column Item type. To unhide file extensions, follow these steps:

  • Click start (or press the Windows-Key) and enter “Control Panel” to open Windows Control Panel
  • If the control panel items are grouped by category names, open the category Appearance and Personalization, if they are displayed as a plain list, just continue.
  • Select Folder Options
  • In the tab View, section Advanced settings, make sure the option Hide extensions for known file types is unchecked
  • Click OK

Step 1 – Create a backup of your Presentation or Template

Before you start, create a copy of your Presentation or Template to have a backup, in case something goes wrong.

Step 2 – Uncompress the Presentation or Template file

  • Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder containing the presentation or template file in concern
  • Rename the file extensions from .pptx or .potx file to .zip, and click Yes in the confirmation pop-up.

    Example: If your file is called Company_Master.potx, rename it to

  • Right click the file and select Extract all…
  • In the following dialog, the suggested folder name can be used as is. Confirm extraction by clicking Extract
  • Now a folder has opened containing several subfolders with names like _rels, docProps and ppt.
  • Navigate to folder ppt and its subfolder theme
  • Now for each file called theme?.xml (e.g. theme1.xml, theme2.xml etc.) in turn repeat Step 3 and Step 4

Step 3 – Add or find the custom color list in the Theme file

  • Right click the theme?.xml file and click Open with… and choose Notepad
  • In Notepad, make sure that in the Format menu the option Word Wrap is checked. It makes editing the file much easier.
  • If the presentation already contains any custom colors, select Edit / Find… from the menu bar, enter the following search term and click Find next
  • If you found the so called tag </a:custClrLst>, proceed to Step 4, if not, continue to create it
  • Use Edit / Find… to find this tag
  • Exactly before the opening bracket of <a:extLst>, copy/paste this text:
  • It should look like this now

Step 4 – Adding the colors

For each color you want to add, repeat the following steps. Note that colors definitions must be provided in the hexadecimal form, e.g. 7835A0.

  • Copy/paste the following text exactly before the opening bracket of </a:custClrLst>
    <a:custClr name="Custom Color ?">
        <a:srgbClr val="000000" />
  • Replace the text Custom Color ? with a name for the color that continues the indexing from the previous colors, i.e. Custom Color 1, Custom Color 2, Custom Color 3 etc. Note: The sequence should start from 1 and be consecutive
  • Replace the text 000000 with the hexadecimal color code, e.g. FF0000 for Red

After adding the last color, the result should look like this:

    <a:custClr name="Custom Color 1">
        <a:srgbClr val="FF0000" />
    <a:custClr name="Custom Color 2">
        <a:srgbClr val="00FF00" />

Select File / Save from the menu and close Notepad

Step 5 – Re-compressing the Presentation or Template

  • Switch back to Windows Explorer and navigate back up to the folder that contained the subfolders _rels, docProps and ppt
  • Press Ctrl+A to select all files and folders
  • Right-click the selection and in Send To select Compressed (zipped) folder
  • Finally rename the resulting ???.zip file back to the original Presentation or Template file name ending on .pptx or .potx and move it back to the original folder

When you open this Presentation or Template in PowerPoint now and use the PowerPoint color picker to assign a color to some text or shape fill, you will find your added colors in the section Custom Colors.

5 Responses to “How to add custom colors to your PowerPoint Masters”

  1. Ralf

    Hallo. In meinem Master gibt es in den themes weder noch , noch . Lediglich (also ohne den Slash) gibt es. Ich habe dann ein dahinter gesetzt und dahinter dann euer Beispiel einkopiert:

    Ergebnis: File kaputt. PowerPoint öffnet ohne Folie, und wenn man über Datei noch einmal explizit den bearbeiteten Master zu öffnen versucht, kommt eine Fehlermeldung. Das angebotene “Reparieren” bringt auch nichts.
    Dann habe ich alles noch einmal gemacht, dieses Mal ohne einzukopieren. Also alle Cutsom-Definitionen ganz ans Ende, lediglich vor
    Ergebnis: Kein Unterschied.
    Was läuft falsch?
    Habe PPT 2010.

    • Ralf

      Eher Update als Reply: Mein Problem liegt nicht im oben dargestellten Bereich. Anscheinend geht das File beim zip-oder Unzip-Vorgang kaputt. Habe folgenden Test gemacht: .zip angehängt, extrahiert, wieder gezippt und .zip gelöscht – ohne an den Themes herumzuspielen. Und schon das genügte, um das File unbrauchbar zu machen. Ein Tipp, was da schiefläuft bzw. wie es zu beheben ist? Ralf

      • Jan Mechtel

        Hallo Ralf,
        wir bekommen nicht so oft Kommentare, deshalb erst jetzt unsere Antwort. Kannst Du mir den Master schicken, dann schaue ich gern mal rein.



  2. Daniel Frank

    Guten Tag
    Ist dieses Vorgehen auch bei Excel möglich? Im PowerPoint habe ich es hinbekommen jedoch im Excel nicht.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.