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How to make animations in PowerPoint

They aren't just to make photos fly around.

Published onFebruary 6, 2023

Animations are one of PowerPoint’s most effective features. They aren’t just to make photos fly around (although that can be fun). Everything from personnel procedures to industrial processes to molecular interactions can be explained more easily and effectively using animation. They can be tricky to implement, mostly because you are given so much control over what happens and when. You can, for example, apply multiple animations to the same element (like a text box or an image) and have them happen together or one after the other. You can string dozens of animations together, and you can even control the speed and direction of each individual animation.

Here we will go through the basics of adding an animation to your PowerPoint presentations. These procedures can be repeated many times in the same PowerPoint, making a static slideshow into a dynamic virtual demonstration. Read on.


To add an animation in PowerPoint, click on the element you want to animate. Click on the Animations menu and select Animation Pane. Then click on Add Animation. Choose the specific animation you want to add and click on it. The animation will appear on the Animation Pane. Click on the animation and then the drop-down arrow to control animation parameters such as start time, duration, sound accompaniment, and so on.


How to add animations in PowerPoint

We will assume you have made or started a PowerPoint presentation. Click on the slide you want to animate and then click on the Animations menu.

Powerpoint Add Animation Click on Animations
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Click on the slide element you want to animate (in this case an image). Then click on the Animation Pane and then on the Add Animation button.

Powerpoint Add Animation Click on Add Animation
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The menu of available animations will drop down. Select the animations you want to use by clicking on it.

Powerpoint Add Animation Select Animation Type
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The animation will appear in the Animation Pane on the right. You can now fine-tune the animation. You can control:

  • What triggers the animation to start.
  • How long the animation takes to complete.
  • Whether there is a delay before the animation starts, and how long it is.
  • What happens after the animation.
  • What sound plays with the animation, if any.
Powerpoint Add Animation Controls
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How to add multiple animations to one object in PowerPoint

We’ll keep working with the presentation we already have open to demonstrate multiple animations. We’ve added a Zoom effect to this image, but we would like to emphasize it even more. An important part of using multiple animations is choosing animations that work well together to achieve the desired look. Some animations clash with each other, so it’s important to test your ideas before committing to them. A Spin will work well with a Zoom effect if we have them start together.

The first thing we notice is that after we add the first animation, the element we are animating (the image) has been deselected, and the Add Animation button is grayed out. So first select the image again.

Powerpoint Add Animation Select Element Again
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Now you can use Add Animation again. This time, select Spin from the Emphasis category.

Powerpoint Add Animation Add Second Animation
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The new Spin animation will run once by itself, and then both animations will show in the Animation Pane. Now we have to get into the nuts and bolts to make sure the two animations work in a coordinated way. The first step is to click on the Zoom animation and set it to start with the previous animation (the Zoom effect). It would be clunky and not at all impactful to have one of these animations run, and then the other. Both effects happening at the same time is the look we are going for, so set the Spin animation to Start With Previous.

Powerpoint Add Animation Select Start Option
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Click on Effect Options to bring up the dialogue box where you control the Spin animation.

Powerpoint Add Animation Effects Options
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Here you can see the options you can manipulate. The total amount of spin that happens over the course of the animation can be dialed in exactly. You can set the spin clockwise or counterclockwise; affect its behavior at the beginning and at the end of the animation; and add a sound effect if you want one. And at the top of the box is another tab called Timing. When you have your effect options set, click on it.

Powerpoint Add Animation Effects Options Dialogue Box
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The Timing tab lets you set the duration of the Spin animation. In many (but not all) cases with two animations on the same element, it is best to have them take the same amount of time for the smoothest look. You should set both of the animations to the same duration (two seconds here).

Effects Options Timing Dialogue Box
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When you are done with all the animations on a slide or an element therein, you should test the results. You can do this in two ways: You can click on Preview in the upper left of the screen, or you can go into the Animation Pane, deselect all the animations, and click on Play All.

Two Preview Options
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You can repeat these instructions to add as many animations as you want to your PowerPoint slides.

How to change the animation order and trigger in PowerPoint

Changing the order of multiple animations on a PowerPoint slide element is a simple drag-and-drop procedure. In the presentation we are working with, we would go into the Animation Pane, and click and hold on the animation we want to move. If we want it to occur earlier than other animations, move it up in the list. To make it happen after the other animations, move it down on the list. Then check the trigger on the animation to make sure it starts when you want it to.

Powerpoint Add Animation Change Animation Order
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To change the trigger of an animation, click on it in the Animation Pane. Select the drop-down menu, and then Effect Options.

Change Trigger Effect Options Menu
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In the Timing tab, you will see the Trigger button that will bring up the trigger options for the animation. You can have the animation start when a sound or video file begins to play; when a viewer clicks on a particular slide element; or, if you are presenting to an audience, you can keep the start of the animation under your control with the Animate as part of click sequence choice. Keep in mind that if other animations are set to trigger off the one you are changing, the results might not be what you want unless you go through the other animations and adjust their triggering as well.

Change Trigger Timing Tab
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There is no limit to how many animations you can apply to a single PowerPoint slide element except your computer’s memory.

Yes, you can. In the Effect Options menu, under Sound, scroll down to Other Sound and select the file from your computer.

Yes, your animations will play in the video, at the point you specified. Even an embedded video will play.

Yes, you can load the video onto the same slide as the triggering animation. In the Animation Pane, position the video directly after the triggering animation, and set the video to Start After Previous.

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