Animating Objects in PowerPoint


This tutorial discusses how to animate bullets in a PowerPoint slide. You will also get very familiar with the Animation Pane. All the steps in this tutorial work well with PowerPoint version 2010 to 2016.

Download the Zip file containing a PDF document with the sample PowerPoint file and images used in this post. The PDF document goes much farther than this post. It also discusses:

  • Animating bullets using more than one level
  • Odd animations. For example non-consecutive bullets
  • Animating shapes (rectangles, arrows, etc)
  • Grouping and renaming shapes
  • Animating SmartArt graphics, chart elements and images

One bullet at a time

Open the PowerPoint file Tips and techniques for finding the right job.pptx available from the download above and follow along.

This document occasionally uses the term container. When you create a new slide, PowerPoint uses a slide Layout. In most layouts you will find one or more dotted boxes with text like “Click to add text”. These boxes are called containers.

Ok, let’s go!

Let’s start with a simple bullet list that will set the stage for all other concepts discussed in this post. Go to slide 2 titled “The Résumé”. This is a four-bullet slide and you (the presenter) want each bullet to appear only when ready to discuss that topic. Let’s look at the four bullets in that slide.

  • The résumé is about you
  • Job objectives
  • Cover letter
  • Qualifications

Animating the bullets

Remember, we want each bullet to appear when the time is right. When the slide appears, you’re are happy to have the title visible immediately but no bullets yet!

Click any bullet in the container and follow these simple steps:

  • Click the chevron to open the animation sequence.

    In the Animations tab click the Fade animation. PowerPoint animates the slide once then all bullets are labelled 1 to 4 on the left.

  • Click Animation Pane in the Advanced Animation group at the right end. Note the chevron pointing downward below the Animation Pane shown here.
    Click the chevron to open the sequence of animations for our bullet list.
  • All items in the pane are selected. Click below the Animation Pane (below the chevron) to deselect the animations. Each item in the Animation Pane is called an animation (or sequence) and their names match the bullets in the slide.
  • Each item is accompanied with a green star and a mouse icon. If you don’t see the mouse icon drag the left border of the Animation Pane to make it wider. Ensure that the mouse icon is visible.

The mouse icon indicates that the speaker needs to do an action for that bullet to appear. For instance, the speaker may hit <Right Arrow> for the presentation to move on.

Press Shift+F5 to view the current slide in Slide Show mode.

Only the title is visible. Hit <Right Arrow> to animate the first bullet. Now hit <Right Arrow> three more times to display the other bullets. Now hit <Esc> to stop the presentation. You have done your first animation!

In the bullet list container, the numbers 1 to 4 indicate the sequence (or order) in which the bullets will appear when the slide is animated. There is a difference between the sequence of animation and the bullet number.

Show the first bullet then wait

Please go to slide 3. The slide “Where to start?” has five bullets. In this instance, you want the first bullet to appear with the slide title then the other bullets wait for your signal! Below are the five bullets.

  • Trade Publication
  • Work for charity organization
  • Network
  • Search Firms
  • Employment Agencies

Automatically display the first bullet

To have the first bullet appears with the slide title then pause, follow these steps:

  • Click any bullet and repeat the first 3 steps in section “Animating the bullets” above.
  • Start option for animating objects.

    You should see all the bullets numbered 1 to 5 representing the sequence they will be animated. Each animation shows a green star with a mouse icon in the Animation Pane.

  • Select the first animation in the Animation Pane (Trade Publication).
  • At the far right of the Animations tab, locate the Timing group and open the drop-down list labelled Start. The drop down has 3 options: On Click, With Previous and After Previous. Select After Previous.

Understanding the Start options

The Trade Publication animation now shows a Clock icon and the first bullet in the slide in now labelled 0.

Press Shift+F5 to view the current slide in Slide Show mode. The title and the first bullet appear immediately. Note that the bullet appeared slightly after the title (the previous animation). Hit <Esc> to return to Design View.

Timing options in the Animations tab.

Look at the setting in the Timing group again. The Start option is set to After Previous and below the Duration is set to 0.50 seconds. So, when the slide appears, the title appears first then the bullet takes 0.50 seconds to complete its animation.

View the current slide in Slide Show mode again then hit <Right Arrow> to animate the next bullet. Hit <Right Arrow> three more time then hit <Esc> to stop the presentation.

How does this work?

Remember that the number in front of each bullet is not the bullet number but the order that they will be animated when the speaker ushers them in. If a bullet has the number 0 then the bullet appears automatically with the slide. The speaker does not have to anything for this object (bullets or shapes) to appear on the slide.

About the Delay setting

Under the Duration box is the Delay box. I you want to wait a bit before the first bullet appears automatically increase the Delay to the number of seconds. If you increase the time in the Duration box, this will increase the time spent animating the bullet. Very different!

Wait, there’s more!

This material comes from the first two sections of the document Animating objects in PowerPoint available for download at the top of this post. The full tutorial discusses how to animate shapes, charts, SmartArt shapes and more!

Hopefully you have learned something useful in this post.

Daniel from ComboProjects


MS Office Trainer for 23 years. I am also an Access developer and I love teaching VBA in Excel.

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