LibreOffice Impress: Templates and Master Pages

Version 4.4

What is a Template?

The terms Template and Master Pages refer to the same thing, but inside the Impress application they are referred to as Master Pages, and they are accessed on the right-hand side of the page. If you as the author do not choose a specific Template to use when creating a new presentation, Impress will base the presentation on the default Template that is built in to Impress. But you can create your own default Template if you like.

First, open up a blank presentation, and make the changes you want. For instance, if you work in a large organization they may well have standards that say that you should use a certain logo, or even a complete slide background. They may specify text colors and fonts, and so on. Templates are a way to contain all of these settings, Styles, and other specifications. If you know you will use the same setup over and over, it may make sense to create a Default Template so all of these settings automatically are applied every time you begin a new Presentation. When your Template has everything you want, save it as a Template by following the instructions below for Saving Templates. Then, to make it the default, go to File–>Templates–Manage, which will open up a similar window. Go to My Templates, click on the Template you just created, and then click the Set as Default button to make it the new Default Template.

Like in Writer, the Master Pages in Impress can contain their own styles, which is very useful. For example, the design of the slides may make it desirable that text be a certain color within the Master Page, and having it contain its own styles helps with this.

Finding Templates Online

In our last tutorial we saw how you can create a presentation that focuses on content by creating a black-and-white presentation. But once you have got your content into shape you will probably want to add some eye appeal to spice up the Presentation. Fortunately there are many available on the Internet:

There are plenty more out there, just do a search for “Impress Templates” or “Impress Backgrounds” in the search engine of your choice and you will find many. I like to find ones I can use and add them to my collection.

Adding Templates

Generally there are two ways you add Templates in any LibreOffice application, and we discussed this previously in regard to Calc Templates (see LibreOffice Calc: The Object Model and Using Templates). Since that covered the topic in some detail I won’t repeat all of it here, but I will give a brief explanation of what is involved.

In general, Templates are either packaged as stand-alone Template files or as Extensions. For Extensions, go to Tools–>Extension Manager, and click Add. For stand-alone Template files, open the Template Manager by going to File–>New–>Templates, open your My Templates folder if it is not already opened, then look for the Import button. This opens a standard file manager window. Go to where your downloaded Template file is, select it, and click “Open”. Note that a Template should be a file with the extension *.otp, but I have seen many cases where files were distributed as *.odp files instead. Strictly, *.otp is the extension for Templates, but as we discussed previously Templates, Master Pages, and slide Backgrounds are often lumped together in people’s minds as Templates. Since you will encounter this, let’s discuss how to handle these different cases.

  • Real Templates – Add as above by going to File–>New–>Templates and using the Import button.
  • Presentations with backgrounds added – These are *.odp files, the file format for presentations. For these see the next section on how to deal with a bug.

Saving Templates

There is a very odd bug in Impress that might bite you in trying to save a Template. The problem is that  the My Templates folder for Impress does not appear at all in the Template Manager, which makes it very difficult to save a Template, as you might imagine.  This is not the case for every version, as far as I can tell, so if you don’t run into it all the better. There is a kludgy workaround:

  1. Go to File > Save As Template on the main menu bar to open the Template Manager dialog. By default the Template Manager opens at the Documents page.
  2. Double click on the MediaWiki folder to select it and activate the Save icon, then click the Save icon.
  3. Specify the template name in the pop-up dialog and click Accept. The template is saved into the MediaWiki folder. This appears in the MediaWiki folder on the dialog page of the file type being saved, which is Presentations.
  4. Close the Template Manager dialog.
  5. Go to File > New > Templates on the main menu bar to open the Template Manager dialog again.
    Note: Closing and opening the Template Manager is necessary so that the following steps can be carried out to move your template into the My Templates folder.
  6. Select the Presentations tab to open the dialog page for presentations (Figure 32).
  7. Double-click the MediaWiki folder to open it.
  8. Select the template you have just added and the file handling controls are displayed.
  9. Click the Move to folder icon and select My Templates from the drop list that appears. Your template will be moved from the MediaWiki folder to the My Templates
  10. Close the Template Manager dialog.

This is not a good thing, and I have filed a bug on it. Perhaps by the time you read this it will be fixed, but at least if you run into it you know what to do. (Thanks to Brian Barker from the LibreOffice Users list for the solution.)

Once you have succeeded in saving a Template to your My Templates folder in Impress, it will appear on the right when you select Master Pages,  and you can use the slide background and graphics in other presentations even if you did not start out to base your presentation on the saved Template.

Applying Master Pages

When you select Master Pages in the Sidebar, you will see the ones available to you right next to the Sidebar. At the start, these will be the ones that come with LibreOffice out-of-the-box, but as we saw above you can add to your selection by saving Templates, including ones you downloaded from online sites.  Click on the one you want, and it will be applied to your presentation. If you later want to change the one used (and that can be often) you might find that selecting a different one only applies to a slide you have selected. The easiest way to fix that is to go to Slide Sorter, press Ctrl+A to select all, then click on the Master Page you want to use. This will apply the Master to all of the Presentation.

Note also that you do not need to use only one Master for one Presentation. But use some common sense. In a large Presentation with two major sections, it might makes sense to give each section its own Master, but don’t go overboard. Remember that you want the attention to be on you, not on your slides.

Creating Your own Master Pages

Go to View–>Master–>Slide Master to bring up the Master view. When you do, you should see a small floating toolbar called Master View.

Master View toolbar





The first button on the left  with the Plus sign lets you create a new Master Page but you may not need to do anything because when you open the Master View it usually gives you a brand new Master to work with. You have a number of options here, including text options. Here is a screenshot of my workspace showing the Styles and Formatting window docked to the left of the Workspace.

Workspace with Styles and Formatting window docked and open







What this is telling you is that many of the elements of the Master Page can be controlled by Styles.  For the sake of not having a very long tutorial I am going to put a discussion of Styles off in detail until the next tutorial. Then I will bring the pieces together to create a with a  Master Page, and a group of Styles.

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