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if i have a powerpoint with a certain set of master pages and backgrounds and i want to conver t an old presentation to do the same, how do i do this?

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You need to tell us which version of PowerPoint you are using if you want detailed step by step on this - 2007 themes work in a very different way to older 2000 / 2003 way of doing things, so to get the shortest option we need to know which instructions you need. –  AdamV Dec 6 '09 at 15:06

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Taken from Apply multiple slide masters to a new or existing presentation for PowerPoint 2007 (will probably work in principle for earlier versions but with different user interface):

Copy and paste a slide master from one presentation to another

  1. Open both the presentation that contains the slide master that you want to copy and the presentation that you will paste the slide master to.
  2. In the presentation that contains the slide master that you want to copy, on the View menu, in the Presentation Views group, click Slide Master.
  3. In the slide thumbnail pane, right-click the slide master that you want to copy, and then click Copy.
  4. On the View tab, in the Window group, click Switch Windows, and then select the presentation that you want to paste the slide master to.
  5. In the presentation that you want to paste the slide master to, on the View menu, in the Presentation Views group, click Slide Master.
  6. In the slide thumbnail pane, to click the location where you want the slide master to reside, do one of the following:
    a. If the destination presentation contains a blank slide master, right-click the blank slide master, and then click Paste.
    b. If the destination presentation contains one or more customized slide masters, scroll to the bottom where the last slide layout resides, right-click below it, and then click Paste.
  7. To copy and paste additional slide masters, follow steps 1 through 6.
  8. On the Slide Master tab, in the Close group, click Close Master View.
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