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The Ultimate Guide to Animations in PowerPoint [2018]

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about animations in PowerPoint.

And the best part?

Everything in here is backed up with tons of screenshots and step-by-step guides to ensure even a novice can become a master by the end of this article.

So, let's get started!

What is a PowerPoint animation?

First off, we have a bit housekeeping terminology, we'll use throughout the guide.


Animation or transition?

Animations are visual effects that can be used on any element such as graphics, titles, bullet points, charts or even the entire slide.

Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to decide how these elements move according to its transition, entrance or exit, emphasis or motion path
Transitions are animations added in between the slides
Entrance means bringing objects onto the slide
Exit will move an object off of the slide
Emphasis will draw attention to that object such as by spinning or pulsing
Motion path will allow you to move an object from one spot to another. 

Got it? Great.

So, when do I start to make my animation? The quick answer is to make your slide first, and as soon as you finish inputting all your content onto the PowerPoint presentation, you can begin adding your animations. 

But first, let's quickly explain what the icons for each animation group looks like:

Transition animation icons are colored blue

[Image 1]

Entrance animation icons are colored green

[Image 2]

Exit animation icons are red:

[Image 3]

Emphasis animation icons are yellow:

[Image 4]

And finally, motion path animations have a mix of both green and red to show movement from one point to another:

[Image 5]

Keeping these in mind, let’s start to add our first animation.

What we want to do is to do a transition animation between the "title slide," the “outline slide” and the “first topic” slide.

[Opt-in with template slide] 

It’s very simple to do:

How to add slide transitions in PowerPoint

Step 1. Select the slide (or slides) that you want to add a transition to. 

Step 2. Go to the Transitions tab and choose an option. Select a transition to see a preview.

Step 3. In this case, we chose the Morph transition option.

Step 4. You can also select Effect Options if you want to customize.

Step 5. Click on the Preview Tab to see how it has taken effect. 

[Image 6]

Step 6.  Now, to adjust the timing and duration of each transition, go on to the Timing section and indicate the minutes or seconds before the next slide will appear during the Slide Show.

And that's it! Now we move on to adding transitions on the third slide. For now, the slide looks like this.

[Image 7]

As you can see, we have four objects on the slide. As a best practice, we recommend renaming the various objects in your slide so you will not get confused once you start animating the at the same time.

How to rename objects in PowerPoint

Now, renaming is something that is not very well known in PowerPoint.

But luckily it's very easy to do. Just follow the steps below.

Step 1. Click on the “thinking man” image.

Step 2. Go to the Format tab in the navigation button.

Step 3. Go to Selection Pane. You will see that the image which you highlighted has an assigned name.

Step 4. Double click on the name to rename it.

For this example, we renamed the image as “thinking man."

[Image 8]

So, let’s say we would like to apply an entrance animation for the “thinking man."

How to add an entrence or exit animation in PowerPoint

Step 1. Select the object, or in this case, the “thinking man” image using the mouse.

Step 2. Click on the Animations tab in the navigation ribbon.

Step 3. Click Add Animation.

Step 4. For this example, we choose the Fade effect from the entrance animation list. 

Step 5. Click on the Preview button to see how the animation takes effect.​

[Image 9]

How to remove an animation in PowerPoint

Step 1. You may notice that each animated object has a small number in a box next to it. So, a box with “1” will be animated first, then “2” and so forth.

Step 2. From the Animations tab, go to Animation Pane.

Step 3. Select an animation effect from the pane on the right side. If you have renamed your object, this would be easy to identify.

Step 4. Click the Down Arrow to select from among the drop-down list.

Step 5.Select Remove. 

[Image 10]


Using animations to your advantage

Keep objects off screen until you introduce it in your speech. It becomes less distracting that way.

Since we’ll introduce the “topic” first, then the “thinking man” should not be viewed in the slide yet.

So, there are two procedures that we will have to do, first to add an entrance animation for the "topic" with "appear" as the choice of entrance animation then change the order of the animation effects.

Try to do the first procedure on your own. To know whether you did it correctly, this is what your slide should look: 

[Image 11]

Notice that the "topic" is indicated with a 2, with "appear" as its entrance animation.

So now we can change the order of the animation effects.

How to change the order of animation effects in PowerPoint

Step 1. From the Animations tab, go to Animation Pane.

Step 2. Select the Animation you intend to move. In this case, I want the "topic" to show first before the "thinking man."

Step 3. Select either the up or down arrow to reorder the sequence.

Step 4. Click on the Play From button to see how this takes effect. 

[Image 12]

So, what we want now is for both the "thinking man" and the "project management cloud" to be totally off the screen while we’re introducing the "topic."

(Remember: Keep things off screen until they are introduced).

But after I talk about the "thinking man" I want it to exit the screen as I introduce the "project management cloud."

For this, we would need three procedures:

Step 1. Add an entrance animation for the “project management cloud."

Step 2. Apply exit animation for "thinking man."

Step 3. Apply proper timing so "thinking man" fades, once I click the "project management cloud."

Try to do the first procedure on your own. The “project management cloud” should be by default, animation number 3.

To do the second procedure, follow the steps below: 

How to apply multiple animation effects to one object

Step 1. Select the object, or in this case, the “thinking man” image using the mouse.

Step 2. Click on the Animations tab in the navigation ribbon.

Step 3. Click Add Animation. For this example, I chose among the Exit Animation options.

Step 4. You can also choose to click More Exit Effects, so you see more extensive options in the window pane. For this example. I chose Fade as an Exit effect. Click on OK.

Step 5. Click on the Preview button to see how the animation takes effect. 

[Image 13]

Before we explain the third procedure, let’s discuss something about timing your animations in the slide.


Timing animations definitions

Timing your animations allows you to specify when you want it to begin, how long you want it to last and whether you want to use any delay.

You have three options regarding when you want it to Start:

1. On Click: animation sequence will begin once the mouse or any key in the keyboard is pressed while on slideshow mode.

2. After Previous: animation effect will begin once any previous effects have completed. Starting the slideshow mode is also considered as a “previous” effect.
3. With Previous: animation effect will begin at the same time the previous animation effect takes place. Starting the slideshow mode is also considered a "with the previous effect."

In this case, we want the “thinking man” to fade at the same time the “project management cloud” is clicked. So, we will be applying the “with previous effect” on the timing.

Here are the steps to achieve this effect: 

How to set the timing of a PowerPoint animation

Step 1. Go to the Animation Pane.

Step 2. Select an Animation Effect that you want to set the timing. In this case, it will be the fade exit effect of the "thinking man" which is fourth on the list.

Step 3. Go to the Start from the Timing tab and choose an option. In this case, we went with a “With Previous” effect.

Step 4. Click on the “Preview” button to see how the animation takes effect.

You will notice that "timing man" fade exit effect is no longer indicated as animation 4 because it is grouped as effects that will happen at the same time as animation 3.

[Image 14]

We’ve already come a long way and we see that you are getting better at this, but there are a few more animation lessons that you'd find helpful.

Going on to the fourth slide, you will see that I have a couple of written text. What we want is to put an emphasis animation on each line of text with a longer timing delay in between the animation.

To do this, follow the steps below.

How to add an emphasis animation with timing delay on text

Step 1. Highlight one line of text where you want to apply animation.

Step 2. Select an Animation Effect you want to use. You can scroll down until you see the yellow icons which represent Emphasis animation effects. For this example, we chose the “Pulse” effect

Step 3. Repeat the steps for every line of text you wish to apply the animation.

[Image 15]

Step 4. To make the timing delay, Highlight the following line of text and change the Start to After Previous and also indicate a 00.25 delay.

Step 5. Repeat above steps to every following line of text. Click on the “Play From” to see how it is applied. 

[Image 16]

And now for another special effect lesson.

How to find a 3d model in PowerPoint

If you have Office 365, you can insert 3D objects into PowerPoint. There are five unique 3D animations to 3D models on your slides:


3d animation objects

The following animations are specifically for 3D objects, and they help show the objects at various angles to highlight their third dimension.

1. Arrive: Fades in the object and turns in slightly
2. Turntable: Turns the object around
3. Swing: Rotates the object slightly back and forth
4. Jump and Turn: Makes the object jump up, turn around and come back down.
5. Leave: Fades out the object and turns it slightly. 

But where do you find existing 3D models? It's easy!

Go to Insert Tab > 3D Models > From Online Sources.

[Image 17]

Among the 3D models available for download, we chose to insert a mechanical gear 3D model which works as a great visual for my text.

Once you inserted a 3D model, the Format Tab is viewed by default so you can select more options and adjust its various dimensions. 

[Image 18]

So, let’s begin to apply some animation to the 3D model.

How to apply an animation to the 3d model in PowerPoint

Step 1. Click on the 3D model.

Step 2. Select an Animation Effect you want to use. You can choose among the five special 3D animations. For this example, we prefer the Turntable effect.

Step 3. You can further modify the animation through the "Effect Options" button. we choose, for instance, the Rotate Right Direction and Half Spin.

Step 4. You can also choose the timing of the effect, by adjusting the Animation Duration. For this example, we retained the default duration at 20.00. 

Step 5. Click Preview. Feel free to test other options to see how this will work in your favor. 

[Image 19]

Now as you end your presentation, do you want to know how to make a dramatic ending slide?

How to make a moving picture effect in PowerPoint

Step 1. Select a photo that has good contrast in terms of colors and shadows. Here, the image of the sun is a good contrast with its background.

[Image 20]

Step 2. Insert your picture on the slide. Then copy and paste the image (hit CTRL+D on your keyboard). For this example, I only want the sun to be the 3D pop-up, so I cropped the sun from the duplicated image.

[Image 21]

Step 3. Move the cropped image so that it superimposes on the original photo.

Step 4. Select an Emphasis Animation that is suitable for this purpose. I choose the subtle Teeter effect.

Step 5. Choose Start With Previous under the Timings Tab with a duration of 5.00.

Step 6. Right Click on the Animation in the Animation Pane and select Timing and set it at Repeat Until Next Click then Click Ok. Now you have the teetering sun as you mention your closing remarks.

[Image 22]


Now that you know some cool animation tricks to liven up your Powerpoint Presentation remember that only by practicing how to manipulate the animations is the best way you’ll get to harness its potential.

And if you have any questions, leave them in the comments. We'll be around to asnwer them.

[Opt-in to download this guide as a handy pdf]

Let’s build a slide together: From Blank Slide to Powerful Business Presentation

From blank slide to Professional PowerPoint Presentation in under 15 minutes. I’ll show you the EXACT PROCESS, step-by-step!

One of the best ways to learn PowerPoint is to watch other people build slides. That’s why I have created this “Let’s build a slide together” series, where you can watch me build slides and hopefully, pick up a lot of PowerPoint tricks along the way.

Today, we’re building a snapshot of Apple, which is a typical slide in the business world, and used extensively in investment banking, corporate finance and private equity. Just click the play button below and you’re good to go.