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You’ve probably heard of slide masters. You know, that feature in Storyline that allows you to define default backgrounds, layouts, colors, and fonts and then apply them to some or all of the slides in your course?

My guess is you might even use slide masters from time to time. But if you’re like most people, you’re not using the master slides feature to its full potential. Here’s why you should start using slide masters every time you create a course in Storyline.

Do One and Done Instead of Many and Never-Ending

I get it. Creating slide masters takes a little time and foresight. You have to think about the different layouts you’re going to want to use throughout your course. Insert the text and content placeholders. Choose the font type and size. Define your theme colors.

When you’re in a rush, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. You’re on deadline and you just want to churn out those slides as fast as you possibly can. I’ve been there! But trust me, investing a small amount of time in creating a slide master with a couple of different layouts will save you time in the long run.

With slide masters, you can design your layouts once and be done with it. If you end up needing any other layouts later on, you can always add extras to your slide master as you go.

Help Out Your Future Self

You may be thinking, I don’t really see how slide masters save me time. I can just copy and paste my slides! Well, that’s true. But what if you (or your client) decide to change something about the layout—for example, the text size or color—after you’ve already created all your slides? Now that your content is already plugged into your slides, you can no longer just modify one slide and then copy and paste it. You’ll have to go back and update those design elements on every single slide. Talk about a time suck.

If you create slide masters, you can avoid the pain and heartache that come with the seemingly simple design changes that inevitably crop up throughout the course of your project. C’mon. Give your future self a break.

Share the Wealth

When you create a slide master, you’re actually paying it forward, because you can share it with your coworkers and save them some time too! Storyline makes sharing your slide master easy. Just save your course as a template and send the file to whoever you’d like. When they import one or more slides into a new project the slide master will import along with it. Easy peasy!

Establish a Consistent Look

By creating and sharing your master slides, you’ll not only save your coworkers time, you’ll also create a baseline for design consistency across courses. While it’s not always necessary for all courses to look exactly alike, many organizations require e-learning developers to conform to their branding guidelines. In this case, having a ready-made slide master takes all the guesswork out of the visual design process and allows you to concentrate on the content. And after all, isn’t that what’s most important?

What’re You Waiting For? Get Your Slide Master On

Now that you’re totally convinced that slide masters are THE productivity hack you’ve been missing, here are some resources to help you get up to speed on using them effectively.

What about you? Do you always use slide masters when creating courses in Storyline? If so, what kinds of things do you include in your slide masters (title placeholder, image placeholder, body text placeholder ...)? If not, why not?

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Storyline 3? Download a free 30-day trial right here. Or you can try Articulate 360, which includes Storyline 360—the latest version of Storyline with continuously updated new features. And come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

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Fran Heathorn