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In a webinar about Captivate 2017 that I recently presented, there were a lot of questions that came in about Master Slides and how to use them. I addressed most of those at a high level in the webinar recap that we published on our blog, but I wanted to go a bit more in-depth on the subject.

To lay some groundwork let’s clarify a couple of terms:


A Theme, in Captivate terminology, is a way of keeping a consistent design throughout a project. The great things about a theme are that it can be applied “on the fly”—aka while you are in the middle of your project (though you have to make sure the project and the theme use the same resolution).

A theme controls the colors, fonts, placeholders, and general look and feel of your project. Most themes will be designed using a master slide set.

Themes can be used with either responsive (Fluid Box or Breakpoint) or non-responsive projects. A theme is saved with the file extension .cptm

Captivate has some built-in themes, and there are dozens more available through our interface.

To download the great eLearning Brothers themes you open your Asset panel by clicking the Assets button on your Ribbon, then selecting Get Free eLearning Assets. Once you log in to the eLearning Brothers interface you’ll see the categories across the top, just select the Themes > Captivate category.


A template is also a way to control the look and feel of a project, but unlike Themes, Templates must be selected at the start of the project.

A template is also specific to the project type: responsive or non-responsive. A template is saved using the extension .cptl.

A template is usually created with a theme and can be useful when you want to create a corporate style across all your projects. When you create a template the theme and master slides are saved with it.

When a project is created from a template it will be saved with the normal project file extension (.cptx) unless you specifically save it as a template again.

The fact of the matter is that most templates you can find (including in the eLearning Brothers library) are actually just Captivate projects (.cptx) rather than actual templates.

(For a much deeper dive into these terms, check out this blog post from Lieve Weymeis, a renowned Captivate expert: http://blog.lilybiri.com/whats-in-a-theme-a-template).


A skin is just the look and feel of the player that is the frame for the project. This includes the Table of Contents, the built-in navigation tools (Next and Previous, Scrub bar, Volume Control, etc) and the frame around the project.

Master Slides

There are essentially two types of Master Slides.

The Top-level Master controls all the base elements seen on the layouts or Content Masters that sit beneath it. If you want a unified background color, logo, etc throughout your slides, you can place them here.

Content Masters (also called Layouts) are specific to certain slide types. You can create a Content Master for any number of slides.

To create a new Content Master, you need to select the Insert menu, then select Content Master Slide from the menu.

With a Content Master, you can add placeholders for text, titles, images, and so forth.

Placeholders do just what their name implies, they hold the place until you fill it in with the content, object or image that you choose.

You can also create Quiz Master Slides.

A Quiz Master Slide can be used for either question slides or for a Results slide.

Harnessing the power of Themes and Slide Masters can really help you unify the look and feel of your eLearning projects and can greatly reduce the amount of time you spend building your project.

Because Themes contain Master Slides, you can always retrieve and apply them later to any project you are working on. And they can be shared with other Captivate users in your organization.

If you’re not currently using Master Slides or Themes, give it a go and see how much easier your course design can be. And don’t forget to check out all the Themes, Layouts and other eLearning Assets in the eLearning Brothers Library.


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