Pro Trick: SECTIONS for Managing & Formatting Large Presentations in PowerPoint

About this lesson

SECTIONS is the best PowerPoint Pro Tricks for big slide decks!

See how to manage, organize and format subsets of a presentation with the power tool of SECTION.

This is the MUST TOOL to use to help your audience understand topic changes, presenter changes, or showing off key points.

The tutorial covers both Windows and macOS for PowerPoint from 2013 to Office 365.


00:00 Intro
00:56 Relevant Software Versions
01:31 The Reasons Why Use Sections
01:50 Why #1: Slide Deck Organization
02:21 Why #2: Reorganizing Slide Sequence
02:38 Why #3: Reorg Presenter Speaking Order
02:51 Why #4: Formating Subsets of Slides
03:20 Applying Design Theme to Certain Slides
03:40 Changing Colors for Subset of Slides
03:56 Apply Transition to Specific Slides
05:01 Bonus Why: Summary Zoom Tool
07:03 The Mechanics of Creating a Section
07:20 Creating a Section in Normal View
07:38 macOS – The Only Interface Difference
08:30 Creating a Section in Slide Sorter View
09:10 Expanding and Collapsing Sections like an Outline
09:24 Moving Sections inside a Slide Deck
09:57 Formatting Sections for Color, Background or Transition
10:34 The Wrap-Up


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility PowerPoint 2013 to latest Office 365


Course Completed

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For long presentations, or multiple presenters using the PowerPoint section tool is the way to go.

Hi, this is Les McCarter from Power Up Training, where I share my decades of experience with you for free.

For complex slide decks that cover more than a single topic, or if there are different people presenting a presentation then the use of sections is the only way to go.

In the next 10 minutes, you will learn everything you need to know to manage large slide decks, which can help you organize your topics like a giant visual outline, even more cool, formatting individual sections for color and transitions that stand out from the previous section or topic. So let’s go power up with sections for slide, deck management and formatting.

Let’s do this. I’m using the latest version of PowerPoint office 365 on a windows PC, but this works going back to earlier versions of at least PowerPoint 2013.

It also works on the Mac OS desktop version with just one interface, small detail where the pop-up names show up. Also that in a few moments, let’s look at the completed slide deck that I built for this tutorial. Don’t worry. No one was put to sleep by this presentation as is only for us to work on. And it’s about Microsoft’s large set of business software, just so we can understand why use sections. I’ve already put them inside of this slide deck, and we’ll come back to build this ourselves in our project, but watch how we can take the 35 slides and collapse them into six sections to get the 10,000 foot view of our presentation. And just as easily go back into the section menu and expand out all the slides. Very simple to do it again and again and again, and in the slicer review, we can easily find a section with the title name and use the small triangle to collapse and expand just that specific section.

This is such a time-saver for a large presentation, not just for navigation, but also to make sure that all the pertinent slides are in the proper section locations. And if after reviewing the presentation, we decide the flow is not just right. It is dead simple. Then click and drag a section from one spot to the next. Another great use for sections is for presentations with multiple presenters, making it simple to rearrange the presenter order by just dragging the sections around to match our final agenda. But sections can be used for more than just getting the flow just right. We can also use it to do micro formatting of subsets of slides. Once we select a section heading, you will see that all the slides inside are selected as indicated by the red outline around each slide. Furthermore, each of the slide numbers change from black to red to indicate that they’re selected now for the fun part, we can format just the section by going up to the design and try on some of the preset, PowerPoint, design themes and templates to be applied only to the section.

However, it’s important to note that some existing slide layouts might not play well with the new theme. And quite honestly, from an aesthetics perspective, I don’t like changing themes in the middle of a slide deck. A more classy and effective change is to alter the color theme, just to keep the layout consistent, but indicate to our audience that a new section has been introduced. And we can format a section subset of slides with more than just themes and colors. We can also apply a specific transition style, suggest that section select the section we want to impact go to the transitions menu and choose a new transitions. In this case, we’ll try out vortex and so that we can contrast the change. Let me also apply a different transition to the previous section of desktop with the push transitions do look for our top 10 transitions, YouTube tutorial listed above.

Let’s go test this out. I’ll start this live show as slide number 18, called one drive, and we’ll see the push transition for the first two slides and then switch to the more dramatic vortex slide transition. As we move into the data center tools and all the following slides in that section, we’ll also use the vortex transition. So now we see an additional reason to add sections to our presentations so that we can format a subset of slides as a sub unit with different color themes and slide transitions. There is one bonus reason that I want to preview, and that is the cool some resume tool found only in the more recent versions of PowerPoint for windows and MacOS. Basically this lets us create a dynamic presentation that can be presented out of order. Let’s create it so that we can better understand what’s going on in the insert ribbon menu.

You click the downward arrow next to the zoom action icon and select some resume because we use sections for our presentation PowerPoint we’ll select the first line of each section and create a new slide with those individual sections summary title slides laid out as clickable hotspots, hold double-click on this slide in our slide, sorter view and PowerPoint will automatically jump us to the normal view where I can add a title to this auto-generated slide. I’m going to call it our zoom jumping slide. Do note that PowerPoint made this our second slide after our title slide, which is the right place for it to be. Now, let’s go see it in action, using the slideshow mode with the first click on the title, we go to the second slide, which is showing the five section title slide page, and each is clickable mean that we can go to whichever section we want in whatever order we want.

Let me start with the two slide agenda section by clicking and seeing the zoom in as no surprise, I click will take us to the next slide. When we reached the end of that section, the magic happens and we return to the zoom jumping slide. Ready for us to go to any section of our Tuesday? Yes. At the end of the section, the slide show returns to this jumping slide. The magical zoom tool deserves its own power of training. YouTube tutorial do subscribe to our channel and do look for several advanced videos on the zoom tool. But now that we know the why of sections, let’s go in on the mechanics of how things, which he has over to the same presentation, but a version that has no sections created a basic slide deck sections can be added into views, the normal view, and this slide sorter view, let’s start with the normal view.

One technique is to select this slide that you want as the first in the new section, and then go to the home ribbon menu and click on the upside down arrow next to the section action icon there you select add section a window pops up where you didn’t name the section. And this is section one and only one item that is different for the macOS there is no pop-up window. Just rename it in place. Here. I call it agenda at all. The following 33 slides are now part of this section do know that while we created just one section, there are now two sections with all the slides above in our case, just the one. Now part of the default first section, a second technique to create sections in the normal view is to use the right click between the two slides in the thumbnail section on the left of your screen, choose as section, and then use the pop-up box and windows to name it, or name it in place on the Mac.

And while you can do all this, you need to do in the normal view for sections. I prefer to work in the slides sorter view as for the most part, I’m using sections to manage the collection of slides. And I like to see them all on my screen in this slide, sorter mode, the same techniques work as they do in the normal view. One away is to click on the first line of the section that you want, and then go to the home room menu. And from there, find the drop-down section menu and choose as section. Then give it a name as an alternative. You could right click in between two slides and add section either way. Once you have your sections, you can then easily collapse and expand the sections either from the menu of section or by clicking the individual triangles next to each of the section names rearranging the order of the sections is easy.

Just click on the section, header and move the group around the new location. And it does not have to be in a collapsed mode for you to be able to rearrange the order. If you do it with all the slides showing we click on the section header and move it, it automatically collapses everything to make it simple for you to navigate through a long presentation. And when you let go with a new location, all the slides pop back up to recap. Our earlier demonstration, you can reformat the sub section of the presentation by clicking on the section hand, and then changing the theme or the transition or the color for just those slides, because you’re most likely already laid out. Your slides is probably best just to change the color theme or just the slide background. So as not to mess up the other elements inside the slides.

Once you understand the power of sections, you can really raise the classiness of your presentation by giving visual clues to your audience.

When you are changing to different topic sections, or changing speakers.

Now that you have seen the pro tool of sections, you can now tame and rule all of your large slide, decks.

Got questions or cool ideas? Leave them in the YouTube comments below.

If this was helpful, do like and share with coworkers and do subscribe, which encourages me to make more free tutorials for you to build upon the skill.

Do look for our follow-up video on summary zoom tool, which we featured as a bonus in this tutorial.

And lastly, if you want to take all of our free PowerPoint school tutorials, visit us at

Until next time, go power up!