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MasterShapes are user-defined, native PowerPoint shapes that deliver enhanced functionality beyond what can be achieved through native PowerPoint placeholders and layouts alone. They can be inserted on any slide, freeing you from the rigid constraints of native PowerPoint layouts that do not always meet your layout needs. This can reduce the number of layouts required in your presentation templates, reduce the level of proficiency required for working in Slide Master view, standardize recurring changes that users make to slides that may otherwise not conform to template design or other corporate design standards, and minimize time spent formatting.

MasterShapes can be configured so that they are inserted with the click of a button on selected slides, all slides in a presentation, or just certain slides. They may also be configured with pre-defined placeholders that instruct Macabacus to populate the MasterShape with specific text, such as a file path or a date/time stamp, upon insertion.


How you decide to use MasterShapes is up to you. Here are some examples for inspiration:

Footnotes / Sources

Insert a text box at the bottom of the slide used for footnotes or citing sources.


Insert a sticky (i.e., a colored text box) to leave messages for colleagues while drafting a presentation.


Add a takeaway message to the bottom of the slide that summarizes key points from the slide.


Show slide stamps with privacy markings such as "Confidential" and "Draft" on all slides in a presentation.

File Paths

Show the file path of the presentation on all slides in the presentation.

Date / Time

Show a date/time stamp on all slides in the presentation.

Inserting MasterShapes

MasterShapes can be inserted and removed from the Macabacus > MasterShapes menu. This menu is populated from hidden shapes found on your presentation's slide master that satisfy the naming convention described below.

Depending on how the MasterShape you have chosen to insert is configured, it may be inserted on the selected slide, on all slides in the presentation, or just on certain slides. When MasterShapes are inserted on layouts, rather than slides, they will not be editable in Normal view—this may be desirable for certain shapes. Hover over the buttons on the MasterShapes menu with your mouse to view tooltips that explain where MasterShapes will be inserted. If MasterShapes are not inserted where you expect, you can modify this behavior with the MasterShape naming convention described below.

Updating MasterShapes

MasterShapes may contain placeholders for dynamic information, such as file paths and date/time stamps. Click the Macabacus > MasterShapes > Update MasterShapes button to update MasterShape placeholder text throughout the presentation.

Special MasterShapes

Certain MasterShapes integrate with other Macabacus functionality, and are identified by name or via placeholders. These special MasterShapes are the text box, slide stamp, and section title.

Text Box

Text boxes inserted natively in PowerPoint usually require extensive reformatting to make them consistent with other text in your presentation and the formatting prescribed in your slide master. Macabacus, however, provides a quick way to insert text boxes without the need for reformatting. The Macabacus text box is a special MasterShape that is available by default in the MasterShapes menu, even if no MasterShapes are explicitly configured in your presentation or template.

When you insert a text box with the MasterShapes > Text Box button, Macabacus automatically derives the formatting of the new text box from the formatting of the body placeholder on your slide master, including bullet styles, font sizes, etc. However, if your slide master contains a MasterShape named Text Box [SS], this MasterShape's formatting will be used instead of the body placeholder formatting, providing you a finer degree of control over default text box formatting.

Unlike other MasterShapes, which are limited to one per slide, multiple text box MasterShapes can be inserted on a single slide. If a single shape is pre-selected upon inserting a text box, the new text box's dimensions will match the width and height of that shape.

Slide Stamp

Slide stamps are text boxes commonly used to convey the sensitivity of a presentation's contents, as shown below. You can toggle the visibility of stamps on multiple slides at once from a menu under the MasterShapes menu, if stamps are configured in your presentation. Stamps are "special" MasterShapes because they can be populated with pre-defined text options (e.g., "Confidential" or "Draft") that you can customize in the Application Settings dialog, accessed from the Macabacus > Settings menu. Use the [stamp] placeholder (described below) to implement slide stamps.

Slide Stamps

If your administrator has restricted changes to slide stamps via Shared Settings, you will be unable to modify stamp text options unless you are a Macabacus account administrator or run PowerPoint as a Windows administrator.

Section Titles

Section titles are optional textboxes that appear on content slides in your presentation used to display the name (i.e., topic, title) of the preceding section/subsection. They provide the reader with visual cues about the relative positioning of a content slide in a presentation. Section titles are "special " MasterShapes because they integrate with Macabacus' agenda functionality—they are updated automatically when Macabacus updates the agenda, and can also be updated manually or toggled on/off from the Agenda menu. Use the [section] and [subsection] placeholders and the [CS] flag (described below) to implement section titles.



MasterShapes should be considered building blocks of a presentation (see examples above), but not actual content (use Macabacus libraries for content, instead). As building blocks, they share many of the characteristics of native PowerPoint placeholders (but are not native placeholders), and should not generally contain content (except for placeholder text as described below).

Although MasterShapes can be configured for individual presentations, they are most useful when configured in the template (a .potx file) that you use to create presentations. In enterprise environments, this may be the Macabacus-enabled template published to the shared library. If you share a template containing MasterShapes this way, all Macabacus users will have access to the same MasterShapes.

Creating MasterShapes

1. Add Shapes to the Slide Master

To configure MasterShapes, open your template or presentation in Slide Master view and select the first slide master (not layout) that appears at the top of the left-hand pane of your PowerPoint window. Next, open PowerPoint's Selection pane (Alt+F10 or Home > Editing > Select > Selection Pane).

Multiple Slide Masters

If your template or presentation contains multiple slide masters, only the first is used to implement MasterShapes.

Add shapes to the slide master that you want to make available for insertion from the Macabacus > MasterShapes menu. As you add shapes to your slide master, they will appear on all child layouts whose Hide Background Graphics box is not checked. Ignore this for now—you will hide these shapes when you are done configuring them.

A MasterShape may be a group shape, so long as the group parent shape's name and visibility are set as described below, and all child shapes of the group are individually visible.

2. Rename Shapes

In PowerPoint's Selection pane (Alt+F10), give each MasterShape a unique name that adequately reflects its form or function. These names will appear under the Macabacus > MasterShapes menu.

Next, append one of the following "flags"—a two-letter code wrapped in square brackets—to each MasterShape's name. This flag lets you specify how MasterShapes are displayed in your presentations—on selected slides, all slides, or certain slides, only. Macabacus will not recognize as MasterShapes any shapes whose names do not end with one of these flags.

Slides vs. Layouts

There are important implications of inserting MasterShapes on slides vs. layouts. When you insert shapes on slides, the shapes can be easily moved, reformatted, or otherwise edited. When you insert shapes on layouts, they can only be be edited in Slide Master view—not Normal view. For presentation-wide MasterShapes that you want to avoid inadvertently editing or deleting, such as slide stamps or file paths, it is generally best to insert them on layouts, rather than slides.

Also, note that MasterShape content (e.g., text that replaces a placeholder) added to a layout will appear the same on all slides using that layout. In contrast, MasterShapes added to slides directly can contain content that differs from slide to slide, whether or not those slides use the same layout.

[SS] Insert on the selected slide(s), only
[AL] Insert on all layouts in the presentation. The MasterShape will appear on all slides, but will not be editable in Normal view, making this flag a good choice for slide stamps, file path tags, etc.
[AS] Insert on all slides in the presentation
[BL] Insert on layouts in the presentation that show background graphics. Whether or not a layout shows background graphics is determined by the state of the Hide Background Graphics checkbox in Slide Master view.
[BS] Insert on slides in the presentation whose layouts show background graphics. Whether or not a layout shows background graphics is determined by the state of the Hide Background Graphics checkbox in Slide Master view.
[CL] Insert on content layouts in the presentation. The MasterShape will appear on all content slides, but will not be editable in Normal view. Content layouts are those that have not been designated as "special" using Macabacus' Template Wizard (e.g., title pages, agendas, legal notices).
[CS] Insert on content slides in the presentation. Content slides are those whose layouts have not been designated as "special" using Macabacus' Template Wizard (e.g., title pages, agendas, legal notices). This flag is usually the best choice for implementing section titles.
[DL] Insert on dynamic layouts in the presentation. Dynamic layouts are those designed to accommodate changing—and potentially sensitive—content, and will include all layouts except the legal notices and contact information layouts so designated using Macabacus' Template Wizard. This flag may be a good choice for stamps (e.g., "Confidential", "Draft") if you do not want stamps to appear on slides that generally contain static, non-sensitive content.
[DS] Insert on dynamic slides in the presentation. Dynamic slides are those whose content may change or include sensitive information, and will include all slides except those whose layouts are designated as legal notices or contact information layouts using Macabacus' Template Wizard.

For MasterShapes that are group shapes, only the name of the group parent shape is important.

3. Add Placeholder Text

Macabacus can populate MasterShapes with pre-defined text when inserted from the Macabacus > MasterShapes menu, and upon subsequent updating of MasterShapes. Type any of the following placeholders into your MasterShape in Slide Master view to specify what text to populate.

[stamp] Insert pre-defined or custom stamp text (e.g., "Confidential", "For Internal Use Only")
[section] Insert the name of the preceeding section (typically combined with the [subsection] placeholder)
[subsection] Insert the name of the preceeding subsection (typically combined with the [section] placeholder)
[path] Insert the full path to the presentation
[folder] Insert the folder path to the presentation
[file] Insert the file name of the presentation
[datetime] Insert the current date and time in the system format
[date] Insert the current date in the system format
[time] Insert the current time in the system format
[author] Insert the presentation author's name

You can combine multiple placeholders and other text in a single shape. For example, using the placeholder text [path] | [author] instructs Macabacus to populate the MasterShape with the full path of the file and the author's name, separated by a pipe character. Placeholders have obvious utility in MasterShapes that are applied presentation-wide (i.e., all flags except [SS]), but are generally less appropriate for MasterShapes inserted on a single slide (i.e., flag = [SS]).

4. Hide Shapes

Hide all shapes configured as described above on your slide master. Macabacus only recognizes hidden shapes on your slide master with the naming convention described above as MasterShapes.

Editing MasterShapes

You can edit and rename MasterShapes at any time without affecting MasterShapes functionality. Clicking the Macabacus > MasterShapes > Edit MasterShapes button will switch to Slide Master view, select the first slide master, unhide all MasterShapes, and open PowerPoint's Selection pane to facilitate editing.

If you edit MasterShapes in a Macabacus-enabled template shared with multiple users across your organization, be sure to republish the template to your shared Macabacus library after editing.

This documentation refers to Macabacus version 8.8.1, and may differ from the PDF documentation
on your computer that installed with your version of Macabacus.