Design Tips

PowerPoint’s Design Ideas: What Is It and How to Use It?

By Sandra Boicheva

3 years ago

Designing your slides can take a lot of time and effort, however, it’s not something to overlook. You would want your PowerPoint presentation to look great as well. If you’re not an experienced designer, there is a tool that can help you spice things up and give your presentation a custom stylish look. And this is exactly what we’re going to talk about in today’s article: Design Ideas Powerpoint.

Welcome To Design Ideas PowerPoint: The Short Guide 


PowerPoint Designer also known as the Design Ideas tool, helps you design the custom look of your presentation through suggestions. It generates ideas and design options automatically and instantly based on the content present on the slide.

How To Get the Design Ideas PowerPoint Feature?

In order to ask for design ideas, simply go to your ribbon menu, and choose Design / Designer.

The very first time you try out the feature, the program might ask you for your permission to get design ideas for you. In this case, select Turn On. This way you’ll enable the feature to assist you automatically at the appropriate time.

Once you open the Designer feature, a panel will appear on the right of your slide with design suggestions. 

Even if you start with a blank document with nothing but the Title, the Designer will give you 8 design suggestions for a title screen to scroll through. Just click on the design you like and it will appear in your current work.

Sometimes, you might not like either of the 8 suggestions. That’s alright. You can close the window and call the Designer again to generate 8 new suggestions.



Cartoon characters for PowerPoint presentations

What Does PowerPoint Designer Do?

The feature generates tons of unique designs suitable for your needs in order to save you time designing. No matter if you open a blank document or you decide to style a presentation you already finished in terms of content, it will always generate professional layouts for your current slide.

Layouts with Fitting Images and Color Scheme

Let’s start with a new blank presentation. When you enter the title, let the Designer recommend to you a high-quality image that reflects your topic as well as a color scheme for your entire presentation. This way all your slides will fit visually and your presentation will look professionally designed. 

In case you already have an image in mind that you wish to use, drop it in the slide and the AI will detect it and use it to create layouts with it as well. It will also generate suitable color schemes to look good with your photo.

Creates Readable Graphics

This is my favorite part when it comes to that feature. We all know how much time and effort goes into making data visualization, so this little tweak here makes a lot of difference. The AI detects your lists, processes, and timelines and generates suggestions that turn them into infographics. It even suggests icons for your bullet lists.


Now let’s see the feature in action. I put a list with a lot of text on purpose and see if it will generate some good readable visuals for me. Although I deliberately made the task harder with that much text, the last suggested layout nailed it.


If you put a list with dates, the AI will detect them and create a timeline visualization. It’s a very satisfying moment to see a boring list of dates turned into a stylish graphic that is easy to read.

  • To sum it up, the Design Ideas PowerPoint tool offers assistance by:
  • Generating multiple personalized designs to choose from and work with
  • Automatically adding illustrations and visual elements to your slides
  • Turning your lists, timelines, and processes into readable graphics
  • Giving you full control over the generated layouts for further customization

How to Enable PowerPoint Designer?

Let’s start with the requirements. If you wish to try out the Designer feature, there are a few ways to obtain it, depending on the device.

  • Desktop: If you use PowerPoint on your desktop, you need an active Office 365 subscription for your PC or Mac. 
  • Online: In case you prefer the PowerPoint online version and create your presentations on your browser instead, you don’t need a subscription. It’s enough to have Microsoft OneDrive or SharePoint Online account.
  • iOS: The feature is available on PowerPoint for iPad and iPad Pro. 
  • Android: The feature is also available for Android tablets and Windows tablets.

The feature doesn’t need further configuration on your browser or the mobile versions, however, it might require you to turn it on your desktop version. So, here’s how to do it.

Enabling PowerPoint Designer on your PC

  • Go to PowerPoint’s File menu and choose Options.
  • In the PowerPoint Options window, choose the General tab and scroll down to the PowerPoint Designer section.
  • Turn on “Automatically show me design ideas”
  • Turn on “Automatically show me suggestions when I create a new presentation”. 
  • Hit OK.

Enabling PowerPoint Designer on your Mac

  • Go to PowerPoint’s PowerPoint Preferences on the menu bar.
  • In the Authoring and Proofing Tools section, choose General.
  • Turn on “Automatically show me design ideas”
  • Turn on “Automatically show me suggestions when I create a new presentation”. 
  • Hit OK.

Fixes if PowerPoint Designer Does NOT show

Sometimes, even if you’ve done everything right and you have an active Office 365 subscription, you might not be able to see the Designer button. Here’s how to fix that.

Check your PowerPoint Version

If you have an active Office 365 subscription, you should receive the latest PowerPoint version automatically. Make sure you haven’t manually disabled updates. 

In order to turn on auto-updates for PowerPoint on Windows, go to the File menu and choose Account. From there, you will see a window with Product Information. Look on the right side of the screen for Office Updates. Click Update Options and choose Update Now.

For Mac, choose the Help tab and turn on the “Automatically Download and Install” option. Then hit Check For Updates

Uninstall Old Copies of PowerPoint

In case you had a Microsoft Office copy that you have not uninstalled before subscribing to Office 365, this might be another reason why your Designer doesn’t show or work properly. Make sure to remove the old copies and then install Office 365.

Fixes if Designer Does NOT Show Suggestions

In other cases, you have Design Ideas Powerpoint tool up and running, you finish your presentation, and decide to finally hit for some mind-blowing suggestions. Little that you knew, the Designer panel hits you back with “Sorry, no design ideas for this slide.” What could be the reason for that?

  • Bad Internet Connection: Always make sure your connection is stable.
  • Custom PowerPoint theme: Sometimes, if you’re using a custom template might affect the functionality of the tool. Use it on default themes. 
  • No content: Add at least some content like a title or a photo before asking the Designer tool to assist with suggestions.
  • The tool doesn’t support shapes: Add your shapes after you’re done with your slide.
  • Too many elements on one slide: The tool supports up to 6 images, 1 chart, or 1 table on a single slide. 

That’s it!

With the addition of the Designer feature, PowerPoint is still on top of the presentation world as one of the most preferred tools. The Design Ideas Powerpoint feature is a valuable asset that will save you a lot of time designing how your presentation will look so you could focus on the content. I hope this small guide inspired you to try out the feature and do some real magic with it.

In the meantime, for more tutorials, freebies, or inspiration, you can check out some of these related articles. 


Cartoon PowerPoint characters