Apr 25 2009

Keep the Formatting of an Inserted Slide in PowerPoint

Insert a slide from one presentation into another.

How do you keep the formatting of a slide you're inserting?

When you’re building PowerPoint presentations, you may need to copy slides from one PowerPoint slide deck and insert them into another. Sometimes these slides may have different templates, themes, or other formatting options. Whenever you insert slides from another presentation template, the inserted slides will default to the new presentation’s template and formatting options. In most cases, you’ll want to modify the inserted slides to the new presentation’s formatting in order to keep your slides consistent.

However, there may be times when you want to retain the original formatting of the inserted slides. You may realize that it will be too much work to reformat the inserted slides to match the new presentation’s formatting. You may be presenting with someone from another company or business division, and that person may want to retain their own presentation template.

How to keep the original formatting of an inserted slide in PowerPoint

Paste Options icon - Blink and you may miss it.

Paste Options - Blink and you may miss it.

Keeping the source formatting is surprisingly simple. After you copy and insert the new slide into the thumbnail section of your presentation, there is a small “Paste Options” icon that appears at the bottom-right of the insert slide’s thumbnail. It is pretty subtle and actually disappears after a few minutes so it is easy to miss. However, if you click on the Paste Options, you’ll see two options:

  1. Keep Source Formatting
  2. Use Destination Theme (default)

When you change the default setting to “Keep Source Formatting”, the slide will revert back to its original formatting instead of using the new destination theme. This feature is so inconspicuous that I didn’t realize this feature was also available in PowerPoint 2003.

After pasting the slide into the slide thumbnails on the left, look for the Paste Options icon. Change the default setting to

After pasting a new slide into the slide thumbnails on the left, look for the "Paste Options" icon at the bottom-right of the new slide's thumbnail. Click on the icon and change the default setting to "Keep Source Formatting". Voila - two templates in the same presentation.

As an added bonus, you now have both templates to choose from in the same presentation if you retained the source formatting. You can now build a new slide using either template in the same presentation if needed. Booyah!

(Visited 64,298 times, 1 visits today)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

55 Responses to “Keep the Formatting of an Inserted Slide in PowerPoint”

  1. Phyllis Khare says:

    YEA! Ellen Finkelstein (@efinkelstein)sent me this link – this is EXACTLY the problem I had with a client’s PPT last week. Now I know how to fix it! Thank you!
    Now I’m following you in Twitter @phylliskhare

  2. pptninja says:

    I’m glad you found this post helpful. Thanks for the follow on Twitter!

  3. abba_dad says:

    I just had this problem this morning. I’m not sure why they hid it like that instead of adding it to the ‘paste special’ menu. And I had to dig through help to find it too.

  4. darkb says:

    ‘Keep Source Formatting’ has always been useful BUT what if you want to bring over the format of the copied slide without having to also bring in a new slide master as well (and unecessarily bulk up your file size)? Anyone know how to do this?

  5. pptninja says:

    PowerPoint 2007’s new file format automatically compresses files as it combines XML with ZIP compression. The “fat” PPT file problem of previous versions isn’t as much of a problem now.

    The main source of “extra bulk” will be any background image in a slide master that you have. Unless you reduce the image file size, I don’t see any way around adding some extra size to your file. But as I stated earlier it shouldn’t be as big an issue with the current PPTX file format. My two cents.

  6. PowerPoint Training says:

    And opening the file in any earlier version just adds to the file size, right!

  7. Reuben Poon says:

    Bazunga! This was the answer to all of my problems (well, not quite, but it definitely made my life a whole lot easier)

  8. Chris N says:

    Anyone know how to do this via macro or API?

  9. Lindsey says:

    Thank you so much!!!!!

  10. Jackie says:

    Oh my gosh! What a lifesaver! I was going nuts trying to figure out how to do this!!! YAY : D

  11. melissa says:

    How can I set this to be default, so I do not have to click paste options all the time?

  12. pptninja says:

    I couldn’t find an option to set this as the default. :(

    Maybe if a Microsoft PowerPoint Product Manager visits this site, they’ll consider it for PPT 2010.

  13. Beth says:

    OMG. Thank you so much!

  14. JJ says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!

  15. golfwineski says:

    WHY can’t MS help be this simple!!!! I know the answer…bc they are MS. Thanks…problem has haunted me for a while…frikking Gates sucks…

  16. Candice says:

    Thank you so much!

  17. Jim Sauerbaum says:

    I’m using 2007 and I’ve used this little trick for the longest time but now the Paste option icon has disappeared on me. I get it when I cut and paste individual elements from a slide but not when I cut and paste the entire slide. This was working up to a few weeks ago. Any suggestions?

  18. Chris says:

    Thanks you! Saved me hours. Hugely helpful tip.

  19. Jessica says:

    After pasting a new slide into the slide thumbnails on the left, look for the “Paste Options” icon at the bottom-right of the new slide’s thumbnail. Click on the icon and change the default setting to “Keep Source Formatting”. Voila – two templates in the same presentation.

    I cannot find the ‘paste options’ icon at the bottom-right of the new slide’s thumbnail….it does not appear??? please help

    • pptninja says:

      I ran into this issue recently. I pasted in several slides (30+), and the paste options appeared further down the page (floating in a spot further down the thumbnails than I was expecting). I almost missed it myself.

      Note: The paste options will disappear after a while so you need to look for it before it does.

  20. Sal Paradise says:

    Your Paste Options menu will disappear or not appear at all if you have hidden objects on your slides. Some embedded items from third party software developers can also cause this. However, someone please help me (us): What is the cure for this? If you go to Office Button … Inspect Document … then Remove Hidden Items … you will lose functionality of your third party embedded software, once you paste into ppt 2007.

  21. Cynthia says:

    you ROCK!!!

  22. TG says:

    THANK YOU!!!

  23. Maggie says:

    Dancing naked on my desk!!!

  24. Becky says:


  25. Sherri says:

    Thanks a million!!! Not quite as excited as Maggie but close!!!!

  26. Pastor John says:

    Someone already said it, but I’ll say it again: You rock! Wish I’d found this answer years ago.

  27. Jo says:

    This saved my life…it’s taken me years to figure this out! Thank you so much!

  28. Catherina says:

    Brilliant. Panic over…

  29. Joe says:

    You are a PowerPoint God! Thanks so much, this has bothered me for years.

  30. vikky13 says:

    Mega Thanks! It saved me a lot of time.

  31. Miranda says:

    Thank you so much! Wish I would have had the idea to google a solution to this issue a long, long time ago. To think of the hours I’ve wasted reformatting slides….ugh!

  32. trish says:

    Any suggestions on pwrpt freezing up when I pasted in several slides (30+) that already had several slides. it’s a presentation that do every month so really doesn’t make much sense that it would start doing this but it 100% completely freezes up ppt after i’ve told it to keep source formatting. when i do the paste it wants to freeze but after at least a minute or two it will go ahead and paste but after i tell it to keep the formatting it’s done for. anyone else mention this?


  33. julia says:

    Thank u. It was a great help!!!

  34. Dre says:

    Dude you just helped me out a ton with this! Greatly appreciated!

  35. BC says:

    I’ve seen this solution, but it also comes with problems, namely, you inherit a multitude of various templates. Then consistency on footers, page number place holders, etc. are really painful to make consistent. I’ve had small decks (<15 slides) that had 50+ template options in them, so you're forced to gut them to drive consistency like I mentioned. I feel like there is a better way to better manage "Masters" than what ends up happening when combining several slides from several sources. any suggestions?

    • pptninja says:

      You’re correct. It will inherit various templates. If you’re pasting in slides from presentations with different templates, you’re going to end up with a Frankenstein presentation. Sometimes the template differences are subtle so it doesn’t matter too much. In other cases, you can have a mish-mash of different templates, but for many people the hassle of having to make them all consistent is far more painful and time-consuming than having multiple templates. I don’t see another way around this.

      I discovered the problem is magnified by the fact that as I pasted in slides separately from the same presentation, PowerPoint actually duplicated the same template multiple times into my new presentation with each paste. You can minimize this effect by pasting multiple slides from the same presentation in one paste so that you don’t replicate the same master over and over.

  36. Yunus says:

    Im also experiencing this issue with Powerpoint 2007 SP3 where if i paste a slide & select the keep source formatting option the app hangs for about a mintue but successfully changes the formatting to the desired format.

    Im hoping to find a solution to eradicate the delay & length of the save.

    Any assistance will be appreciated

    Win 7 sp1
    Office 2007 Sp3
    4GB Ram
    250Gb hdd

    • pptninja says:

      It’s hard to diagnose a problem like this via a forum. I’d take it to an IT person to have it looked at. I don’t think it’s a PowerPoint-specific problem, more like a computer-specific problem (bad RAM?).

  37. Rachel says:

    This was so simple yet I couldn’t figure it out. Took me literally one second once I read this. Thank you.

  38. Christina says:

    Do you have any suggestions of keeping the size and formatting of slides when moving from one slide size to another? Currently we are trying to move slides that are sized at 7.5×10 (the default) to a template we created at 8×14 (letter box). Even after clicking the keep source button, the pictures are still stretched and text is still falling off the page becuase it is trying to fill the 8×14 format. Is there a special button that says “stretch to fit” that I can uncheck or something?

    • pptninja says:

      Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to handle moving slides between templates that are different sizes. I might do a blog post on tips for doing this kind of transfer. Unfortunately, it is very manual and annoying (Microsoft, please come up with a solution for this).


  39. Colin says:

    Thank you! I never knew that was available…

  40. Suzie says:

    Genius!! and so easy! thanks heaps :)

  41. ak says:

    thank you very much!!!

  42. Studio108 says:

    This works. Though you still have to reposition your items on the slide:


  43. JB says:

    If the Paste Options popup is not visible after pasting, and if you’re in Slide Sorter view, try zooming out. The popup should appear somewhere on the screen. Sometimes you have to hunt around to find it. Sneaky bugger! I really wish there was a way to set “Keep Source Formatting” as the default, because I ALWAYS use it in that mode! EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!

  44. Paul W. says:

    I do not see it, it does not appear for me

  45. Tim L says:

    You have just given me my life back! The hours I have spent faffing about – no more – fabulous. Consider yourself snogged.

  46. pedro says:

    you freaking rock!!!!

  47. CR Nyman says:

    I see the icon for pasting new format or old format. What do I use after it has disappeared? Sometimes I can’t get to it in time.

  48. Jeffy says:

    You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. Thank you.

Leave a Reply