How to Create an Appealing Video Cover in PowerPoint

Today is day twenty-three of the video blogging challenge, and I want to show you how to get more people to click on your YouTube videos.

There’s a video to watch and text if you prefer to read.

Watch the Video:


YouTube Video Thumbnail Covers

As I searched through my YouTube channel, I spotted another important detail I need to focus on, and you might need to do this too.

The very first videos I produced back in 2012 didn’t have a YouTube video cover. The cover is the first thing YouTube visitors see when they find one of your videos through the search function.

A great video cover explains to the viewer what she can expect to learn by playing your video, simply by reading the text on the cover. Additionally, a vibrant cover stands apart from other videos shown in the list.

Here’s an example of a great, eye-catching YouTube video cover:

an appealing video cover title

Appealing Title and Cover

Which you have to admit, the doggie cover with text explaining what the video is about is much more effective at relaying what the video will teach you versus a picture such as this one:

YouTube thumbnail

How Many of Your Thumbnails Look Like This?

My smiling face is not a very good video thumbnail because it doesn’t share the topic of the video. Whereas, if I had a nice looking thumbnail with text on it – viewers can learn right off the bat if the video lesson applies to them.

Fortunately, you can use PowerPoint to create great-looking YouTube video covers for your channel. Let’s take a few moments to go through the instructions together.

How to Create an Appealing Video Cover with PowerPoint

Open PowerPoint and click “new” to choose “blank presentation” to start a new file.

Choose “Design” from the file menu and then select “Page Setup” to create your canvas size. Change the width to 13.34 inches and the height to 7.5 inches in Landscape mode, and click OK to close the setup box.

Right click on the slide in the left section of your screen and choose “Layout” and pick the Blank layout.

How to Add a Background to Your Canvas

Right-click on the canvas and choose “Format Background” to continue. Highlight “Fill” and choose “Picture or texture fill” to add a background of your choice. You can either choose a texture from PowerPoint or select one from your hard drive.

Thumbnail Background

Choose Your Background

If you want to add a file from your hard drive, choose the “File” button and select an image from your computer. Highlight the image and click the “Insert” button to add the file as a background for your canvas.

If you want to use the same background for all your YouTube covers (for branding purposes) click the “Apply to all” button and then the “Close” button to continue.

How to Add Color on Top of the Background

Choose “Insert >> Shapes” from the file menu. Choose the rectangle shape and draw it onto your canvas. Make the shape the same size as your canvas; right-click on the rectangle and choose “Format Shape” to continue.

Go to “Line Color” and select “No Line” to remove the border. Highlight fill and change the color of the rectangle to whatever color you want. Change the transparency setting to 20 percent.

Choose Thumbnail Color

Choose Main Color for Starburst

Highlight “Size” and change the height and width of your colored rectangle to match the size of the canvas. The height is 7.5, and the width is 13.34 inches.

Highlight “Position” and change the horizontal and vertical settings to zero. When you change the numbers, your colored rectangle should snap into place on the canvas.

How to Add a Picture to Your Canvas

Choose “Insert >> Picture” from the file menu. When the box opens, choose an image from your hard drive and click the “Insert” button to add an image to your canvas.

Position your image and then click “Format” from the file menu. Choose a picture frame for the imported picture. I choose the “Rotated, White” frame for mine.

If you don’t care for the white background, right click on the top of the picture and choose “Format Picture” to continue. Highlight “Fill” and choose the color you want to change for the background.

As you can see in the picture below, I changed the white background of the picture frame to blue to add contrast and to match the darker blue that is on my blouse.

Change Picture Background Color

I Later Changed the Blue Background for a Gradient One!

How to Add Your Title Text

Choose “Insert >> Text Box” and draw a text box on the canvas by dragging your mouse. Choose the font style for your text (I chose Impact) and write out your title.

Choose “Format >>Text Outline” from the file menu and choose a border color and width to outline your title text. I chose black and made the width one point.

Slide the middle guide to the left side of your canvas and position it at 6.00 inches. Left-align your title text as close to the guideline as you can. Add the remainder of your text.

NOTE: I chose to make my title text in three paragraphs and resized each of the lines to be the same width (or as close to the same as you can).

Now you want to space each paragraph to be the same. Choose “Insert >> Shapes” from the file menu and choose the rectangle shape. Draw a rectangle onto the canvas that extends from the beginning to the end of the title.

Use the Rectangle for Proper Spacing

Use the Rectangle for Proper Spacing

Right-click on the top of the drawn rectangle and choose “Format Shape” and change the “Size” to 0.25 for the width, and choose the “Close” button to continue.

Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, slide the rectangle above the last paragraph of text. Once it is in the proper position, move the text paragraph above it down to the top of the rectangle.

Set Thumbnail Title Spacing

Make the Spacing Match Between the Title Lines

NOTE: The idea here is to make the space between both paragraphs equal to the width of the rectangle. Repeat the spacing procedure for the rest of your title text.

Reduce the view of your canvas and take a look at your finished title. Do the spaces in between each line of text look as if they are the same width? If so, you can continue.

At this point, you could stop the design process if you like what you see. I added a rectangle above and below the title text to make it stand out, which is shown below in my final image.

I also changed the background of my photograph from the dark blue to a gradient color, which I like much better. Additionally, I changed the color of the thumbnail cover as well as the title so I could use it with today’s video! :)

Highlight the entire text title and choose “Format >> Group” from the file menu to group them together. This makes it easier to move the text around the canvas to center it properly.

How to Export Your Finished YouTube Cover

Choose “File” from the top menu and select “Save As” to save the thumbnail cover as a PNG type file to your hard drive. Be sure to save it inside a directory where you can find it later.

Here’s how my YouTube Thumbnail Cover turned out:

Final YouTube Video Cover

Final YouTube Thumbnail Cover for Today’s Video!

How to Add a Custom Thumbnail to a YouTube Video

When you’re ready to add your new thumbnail image to a YouTube video, follow the instructions I provide on my “How to Add a Custom Thumbnail to YouTube Videos” tutorial.

If you prefer to read, you can download my “How to Add a Custom Thumbnail to YouTube Videos PDF report.

Now you can return to YouTube and switch a funny-looking thumbnail image with one that looks more professional and is much more effective in getting people to view your videos.

Download the Working PowerPoint File:

Please share this post with your friends, (so they can get a free download too), and thanks!

Do you use custom thumbnails for your videos? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Thanks for reading,

– Bonnie

P.S. Did you enjoy this message? If so, please share it with your friends so they can benefit from schmoozing. Then, if you want to get more messages like this one, connect with me via my social links below or hop aboard my notification list. I would like to keep in touch.

About Bonnie Gean

Bonnie is a full-time writer and marketer with over 20-years of experience as an entrepreneur. She loves helping people overcome the technical challenges associated with an online business. Need a step-by-step tutorial? Simply ASK her and she'll help you too.

Join the Discussion

  1. I made a cover image for one of my videos once with Canva and it didn’t turn out too well. I’m gonna see if I can figure out how to do this with OpenOffice. I’d love to have some nice covers for my upcoming videos since they’re such an important part of my promotion plan. :)

    By the way, I emailed you about the PLR membership. Did you get it? If you’re busy right now it’s no problem, I don’t need everything set up until the 26th. :)

    • Let me know how it works with Open Office, Amanda. I’ve wanted someone to try it with that program, just to see if they can open a PPT file. If you get a chance, download my PPT file and see if you can open it inside Open Office. Thanks!

      Yes, I received your email about the PLR membership. As luck would have it, I just received another order from a PLR customer, so I will work on her items first. If I have time to dive into PPT, I can make something for your launch! Thanks for the email!

      • Ya, I can open the file just fine. I can move elements around and edit text. :) It took me a bit to figure out how to save the slide as an image but what you’ve gotta do is go to “export” and pick the graphic type you want from the drop down menu.

        What I’m trying to figure out now is how to pick the canvas size when I start fresh.

  2. Love that candid shot Bonnie! That was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to put videos on YouTube. The three images that you could choose from always had eyes closed or mouth open. UGERRRRLY!!!

    Have started added covers to my vids now – still experimenting with it :)

  3. Clever! I’ve just been using a photo with text for my daily vlogs but I may need to look into trying this.

  4. Great demo, Bonnie Gean. I also use PowerPoint to create Opening and Ending Title Slides for my videos. I have also used it to create Text Slides to drop in videos with the PIP (picture in picture) editing feature.

    One thing you don’t mention was very confusing for me when I got started. PowerPoint gives you two choices for the size format of the “slide.” One is 4:3 ratio, and the other is the Widescreen 16:9 ratio. But I didnt know that. My videos were 16:9, but my Title Slides were 4:3 so there were black bars on each side of the Title Slide. I laugh about it now, but geez it was frustrating back then.

    Even now there are differing opinions among marketers as to which ratio format to use for videos. The old 4:3 ratio will fit the old, square video monitors and TV sets. The 16:9 ratio will fit the newer, flat screen tv’s and monitors. I always do videos in the 16:9 ratio, so that is what I use for Title slides, which is what you used in your demo by entering “custom” dimensions.

    It may be easier to use the menu command that PowerPoint includes, although they don’t make it easy to find. In the 2013 version of PP, you click the Design Tab, and look for “Slide Size” menu on the far right. Click the drop down arrow to choose the ratio desired. All new PowerPoint creations will be in this size unless you change it again. I don’t recall where this menu is located in Office 2010 but its in there somewhere. Maybe someone reading this can tell us where it is.

    Thanks again, Bonnie Gean.

    • I don’t mention the 16:9 versus the 4:3 because 16:9 is pretty much the standard these days if you want to display your video as a high-definition (HD) video from YouTube. If you used the smaller format, the video looks like it was created underwater and is not as vibrant as the 16:9 ratio.

      Another thing to be aware of is that the standard PowerPoint size of 16:9 will only export a slide out that measures 960 x 540 pixels, which doesn’t equal the size that I use for my YouTube covers.

      I use 1280×720 pixels, which is what Google’s support documents ask us to use as a “best practice” because the thumbnail needs to be as large as possible so the image can be used as a preview image in an embedded player. That’s why I create my PPT files as a custom size of 13.34 wide by 7.5 inches high. When exported out from PPT, it measures exactly 1280×720 pixels.

      YES, there really IS a method to my madness. (chuckles)

      To be frank, if people are still viewing video at the 4:3 ratio, they need to update their system as they are sorely behind the times. Marketers can argue all they want, as far as I’m concerned, because if Google tells me to use a size of 1280×720 for my thumbnail, that’s what I use. After all, they’re the boss. :)

      Thanks for visiting again, Mary. Always nice to see and hear from you!

  5. Oh goody! I so needed to do this too. I threw one or two together recently but a consistent look seems to be better. I’m grabbing that ppt template and will go through it with these instructions too.

    Thanks a bunch Bonnie!

  6. I am going to know just where to go to learn about PowerPoint. I’ve never had to use it at work (I think I’ve mentioned it) but my son had to learn it in High School and I used to be amazed at what he could do with it. We all have those goofy photos, don’t we – but you were brave enough to publish yours to educate us. Good job!

    • So glad you’ve returned, Alana. If you need to know something specific for PowerPoint, just ask!

      I am happy to create additional tutorials when you need them!

      What type of things did your son make in school with PowerPoint? Does he still use it?

  7. I haven’t done videos to date, but I agree that a good title capture is very important to grab your viewers – it’s just like writing a good headline to pull interest.

    Great info, and thanks for the instructions. :)

  8. LOL I love that goofy image in the middle of your post, because you’re so right. I have plenty of those, hate the ones with your mouth open or your eyes are closed. So glad YT decided to extend that feature to it’s users.

    I love your cover image with the boxer or is that a bulldog. The colors and image really support your title. Excellent video tutorial!

    Will you please make video showing how you created the burst in Photoshop? Thanks in advance.

    • You have to admit, some of those “crazy poses” make a person wonder. ROFL

      Sure thing, Cynthia. I wouldn’t mind doing a tutorial to show you how to create a burst in Photoshop. My only concern is that the tutorial probably won’t be very useful to others in my community.

      (I say this because people are always complaining they can never get the program to work, or that it’s too expensive to buy. LOL)

      But… for you, dear, I’ll make one! :)

    • It’s a boxer in the YouTube cover picture, Cynthia. I just realized I forgot to answer you. :)

  9. This is good for book bios, Bonnie. Thanks for the tips!

  10. This is such a great, well written walk through Bonnie! Very good info for anyone that is making videos :)

    Thanks so much for putting this together! Happy Friday.

  11. I’ve started putting custom thumbnails on all my videos. They do look so much better than not having them. I’ve not been using my image though; just something pretty that has the title really to make it stand out. I’m trying to do it for all my videos from now on, and will go back through the previous ones that I still need something for.

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