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How to add a dynamic footer to an Apple Keynote slide deck

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Graphic with multiple keynote slides

As much as I love using Apple Keynote, there is one area where it falls down: footers.

Tailoring the footer can be a labor intensive process of copy/paste between slides and hoping you don't miss one. Wouldn't it be great if you could just set up a standard footer and change the presentation name, client or date once and it updates everywhere?

Fortunately there is a way to do this. It just needs a little preparation.

Before we go on, let's take a quick look at why it's a good idea to include footers on your slides - and what to include.

Why you should use a footer

It's a fact of life that our Keynotes get photocopied, printed out, screen shot and shared. Sometimes entire decks circulate, more often it's individual slides. They can resurface years after they were created, and with it comes a memory challenge:

who created it?

A footer acts as a stamp that follows it around and reminds people you created it. What you put on it is entirely your choice, although common ones are:

For presentations given at conferences, pitches and proposals, dates, version numbers and conference or client names are also often included.

Where to place it on your slides

The name implies a footer should go on the bottom of each slide. In most cases this is where it ends up, either spread across the bottom or tucked into a corner.

I prefer to think of a footer as a collection of information each slide should include. For example, on decks used to pitch proposals, I might put the company name above the slide title. Or I spread it around the edge of the slide.

Ideally the footer shouldn't distract from the slide content. It's a reference point, and I will use softer, smaller fonts to help it fade into the background.

Graphic with multiple keynote slides

Example slides with the "footer" in different places. Once you've followed the instructions below, you can add configurable text right across your design.

How to create a footer in Apple Keynote

The simplest way is to create a footer with all the information you want, then copy and paste it on to every slide. As you copy from slide to slide, Keynote keeps the position and styling intact. However, the larger your deck, the more effort this takes.

A better approach is to add the footer to the "Slide Layouts" in your deck's theme. Each time you create a new slide, the footer appears and you don't need to worry about copying it later.


Keynote doesn't have configurable fields you can include in your footer. For example, if you want to include the client name or a date, you have to change each footer on each slide or layout. If you regularly create presentations for client proposals, pitches or reports, this can is both time consuming and there the risk of making a mistake increases. Maybe not so bad if you get a date wrong, but potentially relationship ending if you leave the wrong client name in.

Creating a configurable footer for Keynote

There is a way of creating a footer you change once, and then gets replicated across every slide in your deck. It requires a little bit of extra work to set up, but will save time (and prevent mistakes) later.

1. In your deck or theme

Edit your "slide layouts" and create a new blank Slide Layout. Give it a name.

2. Create a table

Add a table to the blank layout and add information and style it. I tend to use a simple 2x2 table with no borders and defined text styles.

I also name the table "Master Footer" as a reminder of its purpose.

Screenshot of Apple Keynote slide being designed with a footer

3. Style your table

Now's the time to get creative! Style the table with fonts, colors and so on. I use text styles as it makes life easier if I want to change the fonts later, or create a "negative" where the footer sits on a dark background.

Screenshot of Apple Keynote with a master footer being designed.

After the table's been styled. Note I'm using text styles so it's easier to make font and color changes later.

4. Duplicate it

Place the duplicated table where you want it to appear on each slide. You can add any shapes or images (such as a QR code) around it. I add "#" as text where I want the page number to appear and style it.

Don't forget to hide the title of your duplicated table before you position it or it'll move out of position.

5. Add a formula

In each cell of your duplicate table, type "=" and select the corresponding cell on your original table. The content should reappear. You can check it by changing the footer in your original table, and it should be updated in the duplicate.

Screenshot of Apple Keynote slide designer with the master footer in its correct position

6. Copy and Paste

Copy the duplicate table and paste it on every slide layout where you want it to appear (I usually do everything but title and blank layouts). Once it's in place, every time you update the master footer, it should ripple through to every slide with a template using your table.

Screenshot of an Apple Keynote slide template with the master footer in place

7. Test it

Go back to your original table and change the cells. Every footer on every slide layout should also change.

8. Save your new theme

Save the file as a theme, and it's there waiting for you to use every time you create a new deck.

If you duplicate a deck to use with another client, the footer can be updated once on your "master" table

A word of caution

There are a few limitations to this approach you need to be aware of.

First, you can only style a cell . If you want to style different parts of the footer (such as making the client name bold or larger), you should put it into a separate cell and style it.

Second, the slide number doesn't copy/paste. You'll need to add it manually to each footer. I use a shape to position the slide number, and a specific text style to ensure consistency.

Finally, creating new footers doesn't work on the iPad or browser version of Keynote at the time of writing. However, you can update footers that were already created, and duplicating a slide layout preserves the footer.

Last words

Slide footers are a great way of pointing people in your direction long after the presentation has been given.

In this post I showed you a practical way of using tables on your slide layouts to create a footer you can change quickly. Add it to your theme and tailoring your slides to individual pitches and presentations will be a lot easier than constantly copy/pasting between slides.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction.

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