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Many Office users don’t realize that no matter which effect style you choose for your shapes and SmartArt; textured, flat design, 3-D; that all of these effects are defined and stored in an eftx file, one of the most important visual components of an Office theme.


One of the OOXML Theme files first introduced in Office 2007, eftx files define the look of shapes, Charts, and SmartArt.

Complete Office Themes consist of at least four files

  • Theme.thmx – The “controller” file. Links the other Theme Files together and specifies the name that is shown in the Theme Gallery.
  • Colors.xml – Theme file that specifies the 12 Theme Colors used in the Theme
  • Fonts.xml – Theme file specifying the Heading and Body font used throughout the theme.
  • Theme.eftx – Theme file specifying the appearance of SmartArt graphics and other shapes.

Theme Effects files are stored in the Theme Effects Directory in the User Profile: C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes\Theme Effects

Using eftx Files

In Office The contents of the Theme Effects file are displayed in various style galleries on the Format tab, a contextual Ribbon tab the is displayed when relevant objects are selected.


Shape Styles, Chart Styles, and Smart Art Styles, are all composites of four Office Theme Elements: Theme Colors, Theme Fills, Theme Lines, and Theme Effects. These theme elements combine in specific, somewhat unintuitive patterns to create the resulting display style.

Theme Shape Styles

  Style Fill Lines Effects
Row 1 Colored Outline Light 1 Moderate -----
Row 2 Colored Fill Subtle Moderate -----
Row 3 Light 1 Outline, Colored Fill Intense ------ Subtle
Row 4 Subtle Effect Moderate Subtle Subtle
Row 5 Moderate Effect Intense Subtle Moderate
Row 6 Intense Effect Intense ------ Intense

Theme Chart Styles

  Border Color Border Fill Effects
Row 1 ---- ----- Subtle -----
Row 2 Light1\Dark1 Subtle Line Subtle Subtle
Row 3 ----- ----- Intense Moderate
Row 4 ----- ------ Intense Intense
Row 5 Variable Subtle Line Subtle -----
Row 6 ----- ------ Intense Intense

Theme SmartArt Styles

Style Fill Lines Effects
Simple Fill Subtle ----- ----
White Outline ---- Subtle Lines ----
Subtle Effect Moderate Subtle Subtle
Moderate Effect Intense Subtle Moderate
Intense Effect Intense ----- Intense


Creating eftx Files

One way to create eftx files is to simply copy and rename a thmx theme file with the eftx file extension. This creates a valid effects file, but the contents is usually just copied from one of the built-in Theme Effects included with office. Using Avopress Designer, you can customize each element of the effects along with the theme.

For example if a theme designer only wanted to use flat style effects with no access to the 3-D and textured effects in the default theme, they would set the Subtle Fill, Moderate Fill and intense Fill to use the Solid Fill type. Then on the Effects tab, they would copy the Moderate and Intense Effects style from the Subtle Effects style.


The resulting Theme and Theme Effects Files provides a unified flat Style for all applicable shapes.


Left: Built-in Theme Effects Right: Custom Theme Effects


Custom Chart Styles. Notice the Absence of the “Shiny” Intense Chart Styles

For more information on Office Themes and Theme Effects, check out the great book Building PowerPoint Templates Step by Step with the Experts  by PowerPoint MVPs Echo Swinford and Julie Terberg. To build these types of templates and themes visually and automatically, download a demo of Avopress Designer and review the help text for the relevant template and theme tabs.

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