PowerPoint Secrets: Text Animation


Text can be animated like any other PowerPoint object and the usual options (On Click, duration, Repeat, etc.) are available (see this post for examples). But, there are some special animation options that appear only when the object is a text box:

  • Every text object includes a shape (the default is a transparent rectangle); animating this “attached shape” is an option.
  • A text box may contain “paragraphs” – for example, the detested bullet list or a few lines separated by Returns. If so, options are provided to determine how the animation handles each “paragraph.”
  • Text animations include options to apply the animation “by letter” or “by word” along with a “delay” (interval) timing.
  • There are six Emphasis animations that are only available when the object is a text box.

In this post, I will explore these minutiae and provide some helpful advice.

Animating the Attached Shape

This is a pretty simple option; here’s an example with two animations (Entry/Fade and Spin), with and without animating the rectangle containing the text:

Nothing very exciting here. If you want more options or flexibility, just make a rectangle and text and animate them separately (as I did to create the last example).

NOTE: In working with text generally, I have found that it is sometimes simpler and more flexible to use a separate shape rather than deal with the “attached shape.” An example of this is trying to fit text into an odd shape.

Animating Paragraphs

When the text object includes more than one Paragraph (a bulleted list, for example), options are provided to animate Paragraphs together or separately. Here is a click-through demo of some of the options:

Here are some notes:

  • For simplicity, I did not animate the attached shape. The animation effect is Wipe From Left for all the examples.
  • The first and second examples look alike, but they’re not; here is the animation pane:


  • As you can see, the All Paragraphs at Once option (item 2) shows the separate animations for each step – more on this later. (Clicking the gray bar “expands” the animation so that you can see and edit the individual effects.)
  • By default, the By Paragraph animations are On Click.
  • I don’t know why anyone would want to reveal a list In Reverse Order.

The most flexible choice is All Paragraphs at Once with Animate Attached Shape. This creates Animation Pane steps that you can edit to animate the elements of the list and the shape any way you like. Here’s an example:

Here’s the edited Animation Pane:


The shape (Fade) and the first two list items (Wipe) appear on the first click, followed by the  remaining pairs On Click.

RANT: The bulleted list is excessively overused and is responsible, I believe, for most of the Deaths by PowerPoint. The next time you use the standard bullet list placeholder, see if you can come up with a better way to explain the relationship between the items, or at least a more interesting way. Some of the Smart Art choices may inspire you.
If you must use a bulleted list, never use more than 2 levels.

By Word/By Letter Animation

This option repeats the specified animation effect for each word or letter in the text object, in order. A Delay can be specified between each word or letter (this Delay is not to be confused with the Delay in the Timing panel that affects the timing of the overall effect).

Here are some examples (the red dot is an Appear animation added to signal the end of the text animations):

The Duration applies to a single letter (or word) animation.  The Delay is measured from the start of one animation to the start of the next. Here’s what the timing looks like for the first two animations (0.5 sec Duration, 50% Delay):


Since the text has 11 letters, the duration of the effect would be 5.5 sec without Delays. However, the Delay of 50% causes the animations to overlap by 0.25 sec for each “gap” in the text (10 in the example). So the actual duration is:

(11 letters)*(0.5 sec) – (10 gaps)*(0.25 sec) = 5.5 sec – 2.5 sec = 3.0 sec

For animations that have (theoretically) zero duration like Appear, the Delay is specified in seconds rather than a percentage. So, the overall duration is simply the number of gaps times the Delay or, for the third example with a Delay of 0.5 sec:

(10 gaps)*(0.5 sec) = 5.0 sec

Here’s the Animation Pane for these examples (the ovals are the “signals” mentioned before):


The bar symbols in the timeline are a little misleading – they don’t actually show the repeated animation. The actual duration of the Appear animations are not shown at all; the actual duration of the earlier Appear is 5.0 sec (as indicated by the start of the Oval animation). This is true for Disappear as well. Unfortunate.

Here are a few additional By Letter animation examples; the last one demonstrates applying two simultaneous animations By Letter:

The By-Letter/Word option is available for text objects even if Transform formatting and/or 3D effects have been applied:

Emphasis Text Animations

Six animation effects are provided that apply only to text. Two of these use text fill color as the basis of the effect. Here are some examples (I used a “fat” font to make the effect clearer):

The first group demonstrates the Brush Color effect. The first example is the default version which includes a By Letter option. The second Brush Color example is intended to show more clearly what the effect actually looks like – a relatively slow (3 sec) All at Once option. The third example is a slower By Letter version.

The basis of the effect is an “instant” change of the Text Fill Color. Any “brush” action is due to the By Letter property of the default version. The second example has a duration of 3 seconds, even though the effect is instantaneous (?).

The second group demonstrates the Font Color effect; this effect gradually changes the Text Fill to a specified color (red in the examples); Style options specify how the color changes. The first example demonstrates the default effect (All at Once) using Style 2, a gradual change from black to red. The third example demonstrates Style 3, changing from black to read via a “rainbow” of colors.

Here are examples of the next three text effects:

Here are some notes:

  • The Underline option works like the Brush Color effect – it is an instantaneous effect but the All at Once option lasts 3 sec (!).
  • The Bold Flash option briefly reveals (“flashes”) the bold format but the Duration value does not affect the “flash” timing (!).
  • Bold Reveal changes to the bold format for an interval specified by the Duration. Oddly, the default version has the Until End of Slide timing so that the bold format persists.

Careful observers will note that I cheated a little here by using a monospace font (Courier New). If you use the much more common proportional fonts, changing to Bold format will affect the spacing as shown in this example:

If you want to emphasize a particular word or phrase within a text object using these options, you must create separate objects for the emphasized and other text. Since this is a likely application for these effects, it is unfortunate that this is a little clumsy.

Here’s a way to do it:


  • First, create the entire text (I have added text box outlines for clarity).
  • Duplicate the text box.
  • Make appropriate text in each copy invisible by selecting Text Fill/No Fill (I added text outlines for clarity). This preserves the text alignment in each box and makes synchronizing the animations easier.
  • Overlay and align the two boxes.
  • Apply the animation: Wipe/By Letter simultaneously for the two boxes, followed by Bold Reveal/All at Once only for the box containing “Horseradish.”

Here’s the animation:

The Wave option is unique among the text animation options – it imparts a motion to the text; here are some examples:

The default (first example) is By Letter. The second example is slow and All at Once so that you can see what the motion really looks like. There is a motion path associated with this effect; the third example demonstrates a version with the direction of the path modified:

NOTE: Since the By Letter option is available for all animations, you can create other effects similar to Wave (see examples above).


  • Choosing your own Attached Shape and Paragraphs timing frees you from the default On-Click behavior for lists; this may allow you to present more smoothly. Of course, this is essential if you are creating a video.
  • The By Letter/Word option opens up possibilities for creating engaging text animations.
  • The special text-only Emphasis effects (especially Bold Reveal) can be useful to emphasize (!) words but the timing anomalies may cause trouble. Other animation methods involving motion) may be more effective in capturing your audience’s attention.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.



Archive: Creating 3D Objects in PowerPoint


I’ve written a lot of posts involving PowerPoint 3-D drawing tools, so I’ve decided to list some of the more useful ones in this archive.

NOTE: This post is about the 3-D drawing tools that were introduced in PowerPoint 2007. In 2018, the ability to embed standard format 3-D models was introduced; the 2018 release does not include tools to actually create these kinds of 3-D objects in PowerPoint.

The 2007 3-D tools are limited and frustrating – I hope the techniques developed in these posts will help you get the most (such as it is) out of them.

The list is in reverse chronological order. Generally, the posts include links to earlier posts that may explain techniques more thoroughly.


Putting Text INTO Pictures embedding text within pictures adds a lot of impact. To make this convincing, you might have to make the text match the perspective of the picture – this post shows you how to do this with 3-D tools (and some effort).



PowerPoint Secrets: Rotation – some object properties don’t behave as you might expect when the object is rotated, including 3-D rotations. This post attempts to identify when unexpected results occur.


PowerPoint People – 3D Robotsr1.pngthis post is one of a series on creating characters to help tell your stories. It uses the basic techniques developed in the posts on vehicles, buildings and blocks to draw a variety of 3-D robots.



Drawing in 3D – Carscar10.pngcreating the complex shapes of automobiles is a challenge with the PowerPoint 3-D tools. However, some of these turned out rather well.



Drawing in 3D – More Vehicles mve7.png– Trucks and buses are easier to draw than cars; here are some examples that are a little more complicated than the simpler examples in the last post (below).



Drawing in 3D – Simple Vehicles veh2.png– a boxy car, a truck and a city bus are created.





Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D Houses This post tackles some more complicated houses than the basic version in the previous post (below).





Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D House Basics drawing a simple house and dealing with more complicated roof shapes.





Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D Buildings drawing high-rise buildings and other building types.





Drawing in PowerPoint – Wires and Pipeswire4.png Use 3-D Bevels and other techniques to create wires and plumbing components.




3d Network Demo Part 2: Layoutlayout1.pngThis is one of a series of three posts on creating a 3D computer network and animating it. This post shows how to lay out objects using an isometric grid.



3d Network Demo – Part 1: Iconsicons11.pngCreating standard computer/networking icons in 3D.




More Word Clouds in PowerPoint – 3dwireless concerns 6.pngOne of a series on word clouds, this post uses 3D text to create more impact.




Drawing in PowerPoint: Spheres, Planets and BallsOne of my most popular efforts, this post shows how to create spherical objects using PowerPoint 3D. It also identifies some of the issues with 3D in this application.



Drawing in PowerPoint: A Tower Icontower.pngdetails of creating a watchtower icon using the techniques developed in the posts on toy blocks (below).




Drawing in PowerPoint – More Alphabet Blockspersp 6.pngcombining rotated “faces” of an object to create a 3D version. This is the basis for most of the other posts on this subject.



a block 3.png

Drawing in PowerPoint – Alphabet Blocks – understanding and using basic PowerPoint 3D to create alphabet blocks.



test object w text 3.png

PowerPoint Secrets – 3D – Explores 3D formatting and explains the relationships between Depth, Top and Bottom Bevels, Contours, object outlines and text contained in the object.


I hope this post will provide some guidance and inspiration for working with “old” 3D in PowerPoint. These tools are far from perfect but, with a little help, you can create useful  3-dimensional images.


Video Infographics in PowerPoint: Cellphone History Example


In an earlier post, I complained about “infographics” – static documents with engaging graphics but difficult to print or to view. A video infographic  is surely a better way.

Video infographics can be used to explain technologies and processes, to inform stake holders, generate sales leads and create interest in organizations, projects and products. And since they can be easily and widely shared, you can experience global fame! Pretty good, huh?

You can hire experts to create animated video infographics – Lemonly and Advids are a couple of companies that appeared when I searched “video infographics” (I have no experience with either company).  You can see lots of inspiring examples on these sites if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Of course, you can create graphics, animation and video with PowerPoint. If you have no budget and you have been a reader of this blog, this is a good alternative for creating engaging short videos to tell your story.

In the earlier post, I sketched out a generalized timeline; in this post I will create a more specific example based on a static infographic on cellphone history published by FierceMobileIT in 2015. Here’s what it looks like (typically, it’s pretty unmanageable as a document):


The idea is to show specific cellphones in order of their introduction, indicating their features and the technologies replaced by those features.

Here’s my video version:

NOTE: The concept, information content and overall design were created by FierceMobileIT.

Here are some notes on transitions and animations:

  • The first slide introduces the subject and displays an animated timeline with phone silhouettes.
  • The transition to the second slide is a Morph; the first phone silhouette (the DynaTAC) was copied and positioned on the second slide to get the “zoom” effect.


  • After the transition, the silhouette exits with a Fade animation and the complete phone image enters with a simultaneous Fade.
  • Subsequent transitions are Dynamic Content/Pan/From Right. The Dynamic Content transitions move slide content while Layout content remains still. That is, the Layout acts as a static background while the content moves (Pans). I created a new Layout with red borders for this effect.


  • Animations on each slide disclose the features and technologies one at a time.

Here are some notes on the phone and icon drawings:

  • The stylized phone drawings use techniques I have documented repeatedly on this blog.
  • Front (and sometimes side) views of the phone are created using combinations of standard shapes. For this project I used the original infographic and photos from the web as the basis for the drawings.
  • Fills (and some times Line colors) are added; I used colors from the infographic.
  • I added 3D Depth and, in a few cases, Bevels. Then, I applied 3D Rotations to the view(s) to create the 3D versions.
  • Here’s an overview of the process:


  • I used a consistent rotation style – Parallel/Off-Axis 2 (Perspective is more complicated and not needed for this stylized drawing):


  • For “oblique” surfaces (the flip-phone covers), the rotation was manually adjusted.
  • The silhouettes were created basically by changing all Fills in a 3D phone object to red; some additional fiddling (changing Materials and Lighting Angles, for example) was required. I converted the “red” images to PNGs to avoid scaling problems when I created the timeline on the first slide,
  • The “flat style” icons were also created with standard shapes (with only a couple of FreeForms); here are a few examples:


  • An alternative is to download vector icons from the web and recolor them; most of these icons are fairly standard.

For the video, make sure all transitions and animations are timed (no clicks). Test the sequences several times to get the timing right. Remember to give the audience enough time  to absorb each step, remembering that the audience is seeing this for the first time. Narration, sound effects and/or a sound track can be added.

If you would like to create global awareness or just teach somebody, you can download a PowerPoint “source” file for this infographic here:

Powerpointy Blog – Video Infographic

This file contains one or more unusual fonts; other fonts may be substituted in your environment. This can affect alignment and layout. See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

Archive: Working with Text in PowerPoint


Experts say to minimize the use of text in PowerPoint presentations; the idea is that you should not ask your audience to read great gobs of words but rather deliver the message yourself, using PowerPoint to highlight key ideas and reinforce them. I couldn’t agree more.

But often, you don’t feel that you can avoid text. You may not be able to find or construct the graphical image that conveys your ideas precisely. And, after all, words have impact too, especially when combined with images. So, minimize your use of text but make your text powerful.

I have created several posts over the years that could help you with this process; I’ve listed them here (latest first) for your convenience and amazement.

Putting Text INTO Pictures  – ptext8.pngInspired by television advertising, I show you how to embed text into images – with an animation example.



toi1.pngUsing Text “Over” Images – Using text and images to add impact while preserving legibility.




Stormswarm.pngs and Swarms – Part 3: Word Swarms – Animated word clouds!



powerful.pngPowerful Words – how to use picture fills in text along with other effects.




wireless concerns 6.png

More Word Clouds in PowerPoint – 3d – Three dimensional word clouds.




scaling.pngPowerPoint Secrets – Scaling Text – Text and other point-measured features don’t grow and shrink like shapes – how to deal with this.


round 2.pngWord Clouds in PowerPoint – Building word clouds using text transforms.





anim.pngKinetic Typography in PowerPoint (Updated with Videos) – Applying animation to text adds impact and retention.





Typography in Presentations – Text Effects – Using text effects (sparingly!) can help deliver your message.




shapes.pngFitting Text in Shapes – Tips for fitting text neatly into shapes while retaining legibility.



letter.pngTypography for Presentations – the Size of Calibri – Some fonts are visually “smaller” or “bigger” than others – how to deal with this peculiarity.





Typography for Presentations – Bullets and Numbering – advice for using PowerPoint’s most maligned glyph (and numbering).



emphasis example.pngTypography for Presentations – Basics II – Emphasis and kerning.




p.pngTypography for Presentations – Basics I – Advice on font choices and legibility.

Putting Text INTO Pictures


I’ve written a number of  posts on adding impact to text using images. Among other things, I’ve shown you how to  put pictures into text; this post is about putting text into pictures.

Here’s how television ad designers use this technique:


As you can see the text is not a caption or overlay, but appears to be part of the photo.

The F-150 campaign also inspired an earlier post on kinetic (animated) text.

There are (at least) three tricks to this:

  • The text appears to be behind some elements of the picture and in front of others – this embeds the text in the scene.
  • The text is in the same “perspective” as other elements of the photo.
  • Lighting of the text matches other picture elements.

You don’t have to cover all three of these aspects to get an effective result; here’s a simple example:


This is made of three layers, the original image, the text and the “overlay:”


The back layer is the original image; the next layer is the text (I added a hard shadow to increase the legibility). The front layer is created from the original image using the Picture Tool/Remove Background.  By the way, using the Select Pane will make it easier to select a layer.

The Remove Background tool is very difficult to use. My advice is to select images that have pronounced edges (like a building against the sky) and to work slowly – select only small areas to keep or remove.

turdI think there are four reasons for the difficulty. First, I don’t know how it works so that it’s all trial and error. Second, when the tool tries to predict what I want, it’s usually wrong. And finally, there is no flexibility – similar tools in other apps have sensitivity adjustments.

Here’s another example:


Here are the layers for this one:


As you can see, the overlay is not the entire lower half of the picture; in fact it could be smaller and still work. You only need the the area near the text for the overlay – this makes the Remove Background process easier.

The text is Gradient filled, using colors from the photo (Fill/Eyedropper) – this helps integrate the text into the scene.

This example uses a Stencil font and the text Fill is a Large Confetti pattern, using black and the box color as the Background:


Since the box is oriented (almost) parallel to the viewing plane, no perspective is applied to the text. This is either very lucky or involves a long search for an image with this property. Usually, if you want to create text that appears to be part of the image like this, you will have to pay attention to the perspective in the image.

Here’s another example:ptext6.png

Here, a preset 3D rotation called Parallel/Off Axis 1: Right works pretty well. Very lucky again.

Usually, you will have to apply a more difficult rotation to achieve the effect; here’s an example:


Here the problem is that the Text Box must fit fairly precisely but the size, proportions, and 3d orientation are unknown. Here’s my approach:

  • Create an outlined but not filled rectangle; try to make the rectangle is larger than the expected size of the book label.
  • Overlay the rectangle over the label and apply 3d rotation until the edges of the rectangle are parallel to the edges of the label or as close as you can get. The size of the rectangle doesn’t matter at this point:


  • I have struggled with (and complained about) PowerPoint 3D rotation before and I wish I could give you a rational process for making the rotations. However, I can provide some hints:
    • Apply a Perspective (not Parallel) rotation to the rectangle group to start. Pick one of the presets that gives you a head start (I started with the Perspective Relaxed preset).
    • This step not only gives you a starting point, but assures that subsequent rotations maintain the perspective.
    • You will probably have to alter X-, Y- and Z-rotations as well as Perspective (which controls the degree of foreshortening) and Distance from Ground.  Use the arrow buttons along with the numeric values for fine adjustments.
    • Work in small steps and Duplicate the slide frequently so that you can go back to a previous state if things get out of hand.
  • Once the outline fits, you can add text and other details without removing the rotations. I added an outline and gradient fill as well as centered Old English text.
  • Finally, I copied and converted the label to a PNG and added a Cement Artistic Effect for texture before placing it in position (using PNG rather than JPG provides a transparent background):


Here’s an example that involves perspective and layering:


Here’s the original image, documenting an old McDonald’s advertising campaign; my example is meant to convey the ubiquity and questionable nutritional value of PowerPoint as it is commonly used:


Some notes:

  • I used the same process as for the book label to create a rectangle for the sign.
  • The Eyedropper was used to copy colors from the original.
  • I added 3D text effects (Bevels) to mimic the signage.
  • The golden arches are an overlay created using Remove Background as before. I wasn’t too careful here since all that I need is the part that overlaps the rectangle.
  • Since the red rectangle extends outside the original picture, I converted the elements to a single PNG and Cropped it.

My last example is an animation (you’re surprised?):


I copied the image and “punched holes in it” using Remove Background to make the overlay; here are the layers (original image, text and overlay):


It is not possible to be precise with this kind of image using Remove Background. This doesn’t matter much in this example since the Removed areas are only glimpsed when the animated text moves behind the overlay.

The text is Jokerman font and the animation is Spiral In – pretty flamboyant!

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – text IN pictures

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


Nonlinear PowerPoint – “Zoom” Navigation

zoomgirl 2.jpg

While browsing the Insert ribbon recently, I came upon something called Zoom. Since there are already animations and transitions called “zoom”, I wondered what ever this could be?  I discover, despite the name, that it is a new tool for navigating within a presentation.

NOTE: I am an Office 365 subscriber, so things like this do appear unannounced from time to time.  As of this date, this feature is only available on Office 365, although I understand that it will delight purchasers of Office 2019 in the future.

But why a new navigation tool? Links are available and can be used to create a variety of navigation modes.  And, Presenter View (more on this below) offers fully flexible navigation by a presenter. Could it be this is a reaction to Prezi?

Not that on-slide navigation isn’t useful. It allows a presenter to react to his audience and situation and avoid the inexorable march through slides typical of deadly PowerPoint presentations. This is how you can show those “backup slides” without embarrassing fumbling.

This kind of navigation is also helpful for interactive applications where viewers browse through a “presentation”  on their own; introductory sales material and self-guided training are examples. Unfortunately, since PowerPoint is not an internet medium, this is not as widespread as it could be.

NOTE: Conversion of PowerPoint to an interactive internet medium using available software is possible; I have used Flash in the past and hope to experiment soon with HTML5.

You can find other posts on organizing presentations and navigation on this blog; here’s a list of them.

Here are the basics:

  • There are three options in the Insert/Zoom menu: Summary Zoom, Zoom to Section and Zoom to Slide.
  • Summary Zoom and Zoom to Section rely on Sections – essentially bookmarks that you can add to your presentation to divide it into parts also called Sections (!).  Insert Section is available by clicking in the thumbnail display or the Slide Sorter view. Sections cannot overlap, nor can a Section appear inside another Section.
  • Insert/Zoom/Summary Zoom inserts an array of slide images that can be used to navigate to the Sections of the presentation.
  • Zoom to Section creates a single linked image.
  • Zoom to Slide creates a single image that is linked to an individual slide, not a section.
  • All the Zooms include an optional (default) zoom (what else) transition effect.
  • All the Zooms include an optional (default) Return to Zoom – this causes the last click in a Section or on a slide to return to the slide containing the referring image, with a reversed transition effect.
  • You can change the image in a Zoom object from a slide image, for example, to an icon.

Here’s the process for using the basic Summary Zoom:

  • Organize the  presentation using Sections.
  • Insert a slide and select Insert/Zoom/Summary Zoom.
  • Here’s the structure of an example presentation with a Summary Zoom:


  • I created and named sections 1, 2 and 3 and added the title slide. The Default and Summary sections were created automatically.
  • Clicking on one of the slide images in presentation mode links to the first slide of the referenced section (with a zoom transition). You can click through the slides in the section in the usual way. Clicking on the last slide links back to the Summary Section (with a reversed version of the transition).
  • Here’s a screen recording:

Here are some notes on the Summary Zoom:

  • The thing that appears when you insert Summary Zoom is not an ordinary PowerPoint object, nor is it a Group, even though it looks like one:


Thturde array appears to be more akin to a Smart Art diagram except that it can’t be converted to objects. It certainly has the peculiar editing properties of Smart Art (see this post). Why couldn’t it be an ordinary group?

  • Animations cannot be applied to the individual images in the array but the Summary Zoom can be animated.
  • Other animations on the slide appear to work as expected; these animations will repeat when the Return occurs.
  • If the Summary Zoom images are overlapped by each other or by other objects, unwanted artifacts appear during the navigation:
  • You can apply formatting effects to the slide images; these may effect the transitions; here’s a demo:
  • If you use this feature, it makes sense to create section title slides that are legible in the Summary Zoom array and that indicate something about the section content – large images and text are recommended. By the way, changes in these slides are automatically reflected in the Summary Zoom images.
  • Clicking on the Summary Zoom slide but not on one of the images has unexpected results. It appears that clicking on the slide will consecutively cycle through each section; after the sections are shown, a click will terminate the slide show (a fix for this is shown in the next example.

turd   I don’t understand why these clicks don’t behave in the usual way (go to the next slide, for example) or do nothing rather than this behavior. This action may confuse a presenter and certainly disorient a viewer.

By the way, here is the Presenter View for this example (Sections aid in the visual organization but are not required for Presenter View):


The presenter can click on the slide images to navigate; the Presenter View is not visible to the audience. Clearly the presenter has complete control over what is shown and in what order. This doesn’t help a viewer, though.

Here’s a variation on the last example:

In this version, I have used the Zoom to Section option – this creates separate images for each section rather than an array – this makes it easier to rearrange and resize the images.

Also I have added a fix for the off-icon click problem I noted earlier (the later part of the demo shows off-icon clicks that have no effect.)  Here are the details:

  • I added a screen sized rectangle to the Zoom slide (blue in the example but it could be 99% transparent). The rectangle is behind the Summary Zoom but in front of other (non animated or non linked) objects on the slide.
  • A Link is added to the rectangle; the Link points to this slide. Basically the rectangle absorbs off-icon clicks and does nothing.
  • There may be unusual situations where this doesn’t work – a fast double click, for example.

Here’s a demo of an “agenda style” example:

Here are some notes:

  • I used the Summary Zoom option and Changed the Images to button-like icons. I created the icons as objects, converted to PNG (Copy/Paste Special), and saved the image as a file.
  • Zoom Tools/Change Image allows local images, images on the web, or a selection from the Office icon collection to be used to replace the default slide image.
  • I also added additional navigation “buttons” to the slides.These are Zoom to Slide objects with the image changed to icons and with no Return.
  • The buttons allow the presenter/viewer to “escape” from the normal sequence at any point.
    • The “end” button (end.png) allows the presenter/view to link to the end slide – it appears on every slide except the end slide.
    • The “home” button (home.png) allows escape to the Summary Zoom slide, it appears on every slide except the Summary Zoom.
  • A marker (red circle) appears on the last slide in every section; this alerts the presenter/viewer that the next click will return to the Summary Zoom.

There are a couple of issues:

  • The zoom transition is not the best choice in this example. This can be easily fixed: uncheck the Zoom Transition for the Summary Zoom and add whatever transition you like to the first slide of each section. If you want, you can add a transition to the Summary Zoom slide so that there is a transition on the Return to Zoom.
  • The second issue is a  bug (turd): when the slide in the Gold section is clicked on, the end slide appears rather than the Summary Zoom slide; that is, the Return to Zoom doesn’t work as advertised. Oddly, the return works properly if the go-to-end button is removed.

Here’s a version of the agenda example with these issues fixed:


  • I replaced the Zoom to Slide buttons on the slides with Logos with ordinary Links to the appropriate slide. This eliminates the problem on the last slide of section 3 as noted above.
  • I added more appropriate Transitions to the Summary Zoom slide and to the first slide of each section  (Cover and Uncover transitions).

I have  written posts on “Prezi-sty[e” PowerPoint (see here); I tried to recreate these projects using Zoom navigation. Here’s what the Summary Zoom slide looks like:


Here’s a demo:

This works pretty well. However, in my Prezi-style examples, I added animations to the slides; here’s how this looks using Summary Zoom:

As you can see, the text boxes, which are animated with an entry Wipe, appear on the Summary Zoom, even though they do not appear (at first) when the slide is shown (turd).

This can be repaired by replacing the Summary Zoom images with manually created images of the slides; here’s how this looks:

TIP: To convert an entire slide to a picture, use File/Save As, select the appropriate type (e.g., PNG) from the long list. When the dialog box comes up, select the Just this one option.

Another possibility is navigating a network – a number of connected nodes. Here’s a version using Zoom navigation:

The trick here is to create the slides so that the Zoom to Section images can be arranged to look like the whole network. I created the whole network first, using rectangles (red outline) shaped like the visible slide space to help arrange the shapes:


I then used this to build the slides, and finally assembled the Zoom to Section images to create the navigation slide. The default transition was used.

The final example uses tabs on each slide so that navigation is available from any slide; here’s a demo:

Some notes:

  • The tabs are Zoom to Section objects with the image changed.
  • Putting the tabs on the left margin of the slides is less intrusive than putting them at the top when using a wide screen format.
  • The Zoom transition and Return are not appropriate in this example; they are both unchecked.
  • Clicking on the slide space (not on the icons) works normally (i.e., next slide) – this may be because the Return is turned off.

So, Zoom navigation provides an alternate means to allow a presenter or a viewer to navigate through a presentation. It works well in its simplest form but its value is diminished somewhat by the issues that show up in more complex usages.


If you appreciate my efforts, please like this post or follow this blog to receive notifications of new posts. If you have objections or questions, please comment so our conversation can be shared.

Archive: Organizing and Navigating Presentations


It is useful to structure a presentation so that it can be customized for various audiences and so the presenter can dynamically modify the content to react to audiences or situations.  These are also important considerations for reader-guided situations; that is, when there is no presenter.

I’ve written several posts on this general subject and created an archive/index  here, for your gratification and amazement (earliest first):

Breaking Out: Nonlinear PowerPoint  using Links in a sales presentation to tell customer stories that are appropriate for your audience

Using PowerPoint Custom Shows for Sales Presentations – organizing a sales presentation “library” for creating “custom” presentations.

Using Agenda Slides in PowerPoint (Updated with Videos) using animations to help your audience follow your presentation.

Prezi Style PowerPoint – navigating through your presentation with Prezi-like effects.

More Prezi-style PowerPoint – another navigation scheme remarkably like the new Zoom feature.

Tabs in PowerPoint – using web-style “tabs” to dynamically select content for your presentation

Animating Mind Maps in PowerPoint – using Links to navigate a mind map structure.

Prezi-style PowerPoint Updated – recreating the effects described in the earlier post using a simpler method.

Flying – Planes and Drones


Flying creatures were the subject of the last post; this one is about flying machines. I’ll use some of the same techniques – motion paths combined with Emphasis effects – to represent the flight.

Here’s an example:


NOTE: I have not spent much effort on the backgrounds for these examples. You can find or create backgrounds to tell your story. Try adding additional animations; e.g., searchlights and explosions might be appropriate for this animation.

Generally, I would not recommend using detailed photographic backgrounds – too much contrast to the simple shapes representing the flying objects.

Here’s the construction of the bomber; I used standard shapes and copied and Flipped symmetric elements (like the wings).


Here’s the animation pane and some notes:


  • The motion paths (blue) move the plane and the propellers right to left. Grow/Shrink/Vertical effects provide the prop movement (with Auto-reverse and Repeat). This is the combination I used in previous posts on flying and crawling.
  • Note that the Grow/Shrink is vertical or horizontal relative to the slide, not the object. This means that the animation works only for (nearly) vertical or horizontal paths.
  • I applied the motion path to the plane and then copied it (using the Animation Painter) to one of the props. Then I added the Grow/Shrink to the prop and copied it to the other props. This seems the fastest and easiest way.
  • The repetition rate for the props is slower than “reality” so that the viewer can sense the “rotation.” Faster repeats would create a blur (maybe this is what you want?).


All the motion paths in this post have the Smooth Start/Stop set to zero. This always takes an extra step because this is not the default setting. If you forget this, the motion path will be out of sync with the other animations.

Here’s a more up-to-date example using the same techniques:


You can add detail to a plane and background like this:


Jet aircraft can be animated simply with motion paths. If you want to add a little more interest, you might try a condensation trail:


Contrails are essentially clouds of frozen vapor created by engine exhaust that occur in certain conditions; they may dissipate quickly or persist for several hours.

The aircraft is made from standard shapes, as usual:


The contrail is made, not surprisingly, with Cloud shapes; here’s how I did it:


  • Create a Cloud shape and use a gradient fill to create the shadowed bottom. Uncheck Rotate with Shape.
  • Add a Soft edge (I used 9 pts).
  • Copy and Rotate/Flip to create 4 or 5 variations; since I unchecked Rotate with Shape, the shadow will remain on the bottom.
  • Create more or less elongated copies and align horizontally; vary the size and overlap to create a natural appearance.

Here’s the layout for the animation:


Here are some notes:

  • The aircraft (black outline) and the elongated Chevron shape (blue outline) move together from the positions shown to positions off the slide at the upper right. (The plane and the Chevron could be Grouped).
  • The Chevron is Filled with Slide background and has Soft edges. The Chevron acts as a “mask” and reveals the underlying contrail (red and green-outlined Clouds)  as it moves to the right. The notch at the left end of the Chevron adds realism to the contrail.

NOTE: this trick (using a background color filled shape as a “mask” to reveal or hide objects) may not work for more complex backgrounds.

  • After the “flight”, the green-outlined Cloud shapes disappear to suggest the dissipation of the contrail.

Here’s the animation pane:


The first two effects are motion paths for the aircraft and the Chevron mask. Part way through the motion path durations, the Clouds Exit with Zooms; the duration and overlap of these Zooms is varied slightly.

Here’s a drone:


Here’s the drone construction:


The drone in the animation consists of four separate parts: the drone body, the two rotors and the blinking light – each of these is separately animated.

The body appears via an Entry/Zoom. The other parts also Zoom but motion paths are added so that the parts appear to enter from the same point as the body. Here’s a slow example to show how this works:


The motion of the rotors and the light (circle) are delayed for clarity in this example; in the final animation, these occur simultaneously.

I used a “target” (green) to determine the end points of these motion paths – that is, the positions of the rotors and light after the zoom.  I often use targets when zooms and rotations are involved. This shows the motion paths:


The blue lines are added to identify the center of the body object – this is the “origin”of the Zoom. Motion paths for the other parts originate here and terminate at the appropriate location on the target.

The second part of the animation involves motion paths combined with Grow. Again, I used a “target” to help set the motion paths:


Note that the motion paths for the rotors and light diverge slightly to account for the Grow effect.

Here’s the final animation pane:


The repeated Grow/Shrink of the rotors occurs during the whole animation and suggests spinning. The Color Pulse starts when the drone stops.

Here’s another drone:


The background here is only meant to suggest the kind of background (aerial view or map) that might be appropriate – this one is from Dreamstime (obviously).

Here’s the construction of the drone; the blue circle, centered on the body center, is added to help in the animation:


The circle and the rotor hubs are positioned so that the hubs lie on the circle – I added (blue) “crosshairs” to the hubs to make this easier. Again, this  helps with the animation.

The animation consists of three steps: entry, turn and exit. The entry and exit are similar to the other examples in this post except A Spin animation is used simultaneously with the motion paths. Here’s the layout for the animation:


Three “targets” are included: the red target shows the position of the drone after entry, the green target after the turn, and the blue after the exit.

The “turn” segment involves a Spin of the drone body along with motion paths of the rotors to track along the circle when the body turns. This partial animation with one rotor shows what happens:


The body and rotor follow parallel paths for the entry segment. For the turn, the body Spins while the rotor follows a motion path along the arc of the circle, ending at the rotor position shown on the green target.

The “turn” path for each rotor is different – this close up shows the paths for each rotor with the first one highlighted:


Here are a few notes on this motion path:

  • Usually when you add an additional motion path to an object, you must move the start point to the end point of the previous path (and adjust the end point as needed) using Edit Points.
  • You can also move the entire additional  motion path to the end of the previous path.
  • Moving the start point is not necessary when you add a Custom path since the start point is determined by the first click.
  • You could use a Line path (with no intermediate points) to approximate the path along the arc.
  • If you want to do a little better, use a Custom path with an intermediate point (this is shown in the diagram).
  • If you’re not satisfied with this, you can edit the path to create a curve that more closely approximates the arc.

Here’s the animation pane for the final animation:


If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – planes and drones

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

Flying: Birds and Bugs


Inspired by the last post on crawlers and crawling, this post uses some of the same techniques to create flying creatures. Specifically, I’ll use motion paths (or zooms) combined with repeated Emphasis effects to simulate flight. Of course, PowerPoint animation tools are limited (and I’m not an expert on animal locomotion) so these animations are intended as acceptable approximations.

Here’s an example – a bird’s eye view of a bird:


As is my usual practice, I made the bird body and a wing by combining standard shapes.  The wing was copied and Flipped Vertical to make the opposite wing. The body parts were grouped; the two wings were also grouped for purposes of the animation:


The bird is placed off the slide to the left. The first step in the animation was to apply the motion path to the body; the path terminates off the slide to the right. I eliminated the Smooth Start/Stop option. Next, using the Animation Painter, I copied the motion path to the wing group. Using the Painter assures that the wings and body will stay in the same relative position during the motion.

Next I added the “flapping” animation to the wing group; this is a Grow/Shrink/Vertical/10% effect with Auto Reverse checked. Here’s what this effect looks like by itself, Repeated 3 times:


This basically the same effect used in the post on crawling; here are a couple of notes:

  • The Vertical/Horizontal options on the Grow/Shrink are relative to the slide, not the object. This means that this application only works well for nearly vertical or horizontal motion paths (see the crawling post for details).
  • The “shrink” value of 10% is enough to make the wings disappear behind the body.
  • You will have to experiment with the durations of the Grow/Shrink and motion path and the number of Repeats to get the effect you want. In the completed bird animation, the duration of the motion path and the “flapping” is 2.5 sec and the Grow/Shrink is Repeated 8 times. See the crawling post for details on using the timeline tools to get these results.


You can add details to the bird and the background to get the effect you want. I wouldn’t use photographic backgrounds (e.g., aerial landscape photos) with this simplistic bird.

Actual bird flight is really complicated; the wings change shape in remarkable ways. In the next example, this is suggested by using two different wing shapes. Here’s a raven crossing the moors:


Here’s how the raven is constructed:


Each wing is grouped with a mirror image (red outlined). This assures that the wing will grow and shrink relative to the birds body; the mirror image will be made invisible (no line) in the final animation. I often group an object with a circle to relocate its “center” for animation effects; this is another way.

Here’s a slow wing beat animation:


Here’s the animation pane:


The first effect is a shrink of the bottom wing (all Grow/Shrinks are Vertical). This is not part of the wing beat animation but avoids starting the bottom wing with a grow which might result in a poor rendering of the shape. In the final animation, this step will occur off the visible slide area.

You will notice that the wings don’t completely disappear since the “shrink” is 10%. If you shrink to 0%, the wing will disappear – forever. That is, subsequent “grows” have no effect as the object remains invisible. There is a certain consistency in this behavior so I won’t complain. I will have to add Appear/Disappear effects to the final version.

Here’s the animation pane for the final raven animation:


turdI had to manually duplicate the series of effects (red boxes above). I have complained before about the lack of tools in the animation pane; a way to group steps and repeat the group or, at least, copy and paste, would be nice.

The background in the final raven animation is from a web source. This could have been created in PowerPoint but I decided not to. So sue me.

Here’s another familiar flyer:


Here’s how the fly is constructed


  • The wings are Teardrop shapes.
  • The body includes Chord shapes for eyes and Curves for the legs.
  • Wings, eyes and legs are created once and Flipped Horizontal to create the opposite version.
  • The wings are grouped together, as are the body parts.
  • Circles are added to the wing group and the body group so that the two groups share a common center – this helps with the animation.
  • The wing fills are transparent.
  • The eyes are filled with a PNG copy of the Sphere pattern fill. The PNG copy ‘freezes the pattern to assure that I get the appearance I want.

The animation uses Basic Zoom effects to  simulate motion towards the viewer (out of the slide). The wings are set at an angle of 30 degrees and a Repeated/Auto-reversed Spin animation of 60 degrees simulates wing beats. Here’s the animation pane:


I used Basic Zoom rather than Zoom because Zoom includes a Fade effect that I did not want here.

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – birds and bugs

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

Crawlers and Crawling


A crawling creature may suggest searching or navigating or can be used simply to get your audience’s attention. Here’s an example:

The bug is mostly constructed of Ovals and Partial Circles as shown here:


The legs are a departure from my usual practice of avoiding Freeform drawing but in this case, the technique is pretty simple:

  • Select Freeform and click and drag a few times to create the zigzag lines. A little practice will show you how this works.
  • To edit, right click on the line and select Edit Points. Select individual points and move them as needed.
  • If a line segment suddenly becomes curved (an annoying habit of PowerPoint), right click on the line segment and select Straight Segment.

If you don’t want to explore this, try using the Lightning Bolt shape or individual straight lines to create the legs. Some additional notes:

  • I overlaid orange Partial Circles on a black Oval, slightly spaced to create the black gap.
  • After drawing three legs on one side, I grouped them together, Flipped Horizontal and aligned the group to create the legs on the other side.
  • The lines forming the legs have their Cap Type set to Round.

The animation of the legs uses the Emphasis/Teeter effect (I used this before in my post on scales). The effect causes the object to oscillate or wobble around its center. Here’s a slow demonstration of a single Teeter:

To get a more pronounced movement, I grouped this object with larger circle, offset to one side and then applied the Teeter:

As you can see the amplitude of the motion is increased. Of course, the center of rotation is moved to the left (the “center of gravity” of the group). You may also note that the timing of the motion is not uniform; this is not a problem for this application.

Here’s how I applied this animation to the bug:

I grouped the right leg group with a larger circle (red) offset to the left. Similarly, the left leg group is grouped with the green circle. I applied the Teeter effect to both groups, Repeated 2 times.

Here’s how I completed the animation:

  • I selected the red circle in the right leg group and set No Line; I repeated this for the left leg group.
  • I positioned the body and the leg groups below the slide and tilted them to the left. I temporarily grouped the body and legs to do this easily.
  • I applied and edited the motion path to the body only. For a line motion path, I usually select the Down motion path and move the end point. Remove the Smooth Start/Stop options (set to zero) in the motion path Effect Options.

turdI almost always eliminate the Smooth Start/Stop. Why is “Smooth” the default?

  • Using the Animation Painter, I copied the motion path from the body to the right leg group. (Use the Select Pane to help select the desired object from objects that overlap. Hiding objects temporarily is also useful.)
  • I added the repeated Teeter effect to the right leg group (see below for details).
  • Using the Painter, I copied the effects to the left leg group. Here’s the animation pane:


Adjusting the timing for the crawling effect was done by trial and error. You can fiddle with the duration of the motion path, the duration of the Teeter effect and the number of repetitions. In my case, the motion path duration is 2.5 sec and the Teeter duration is 0.3 sec. The Teeter is repeated 8 times so that the duration matches (nearly) the motion path.

You can roughly duplicate this timing for other situations by repeating the Teeter about 3.2 times for each second of motion path duration. Or you can figure it out yourself.

Here’s another more elaborate crawling animation:

Here’s how the spider was constructed:


  • As usual, I used an image found on the web as a template.
  • The body is a series of Ovals.
  • I made a couple of shapes using standard shapes and the Union operation and used those as leg segments (along with a few ovals).
  • I grouped the legs on the left side, duplicated the group and Flipped it horizontally to form the legs on the right side.
  • The “A” on the abdomen could be your company’s logo (Acme?) or some other mysterious symbol.

The web is a vector image imported from a free web source. I added a few additional strands (Freeform lines) to fill in a few sparse places

NOTE: The web is an SVG image; recent versions of PowerPoint allow an SVG to be inserted and converted to a PowerPoint object. However, editing the image in PowerPoint, while theoretically possible, is not practical in this case because of the unexpected complexity of the object (the web is a single freeform shape with thousands of points).

There are a couple of “refinements” to this animation, compared to the bug. First, the path is not straight; this requires a multi-segment Custom motion path and a rotation of the spider at each change of direction. Also, the crawling motion is a repeated Grow/Shrink effect rather than a Teeter.

As before, I created one set of legs, grouped them and Flipped Horizontal to create the other set.

I grouped the body and each set of legs with a larger circle so that the three groups share a common center and then overlaid the three groups to form the spider. This helps later when I make the spider turn.


Again, since the parts overlap, using the Select Pane will make it easier to select each element of the spider.

Here’s how the Grow/Shrink effect looks for one set of legs:

One “step” is a Grow/Shrink effect, 150% Horizontal with Auto-reverse checked. The legs stretch and contract for each step.

The timing was set after a “test run” with the assembled spider – this is easier than looking at one set of legs. I overlaid the three parts and, using the Select pane, applied the line motion path to the body. I Painted the body’s motion path animation on the left legs, applied the Grow/Shrink (Repeated), and Painted the resulting animation on the right legs. I delayed the Grow/Shrink effect slightly on the right legs so that the “steps” would appear to alternate. After some experimentation, this is the result:

Here’s the Animation Pane:


The duration of the motion path is 7.0 sec (length is about 8.9 in).  The duration of the single Grow effect is 0.27 sec; each step is 0.54 sec because of the Auto reverse setting. The Grow/Shrink is cycle is repeated 13 times. Thus, the duration of the total Grow/Shrink sequence is (nearly) 7.0 sec. To repeat this timing for another motion path, multiply the duration of the motion path by .04 to get the single Grow duration. I delayed the animation for the right legs by 0.3 sec, roughly half a step,

NOTE: Sorry for all the arithmetic. By the way, you can’t set a duration of 0.27 sec directly. I set a rough duration (0.3 sec), applied the Auto-reverse and Repeat, and then used the tools on the Animation Pane to “squeeze” the overall duration to 7 sec. Actually, you could use 0.3 sec and simplify the whole thing.

WARNING: The Horizontal and Vertical options on the Grow/Shrink effect are relative to the slide, not to  the object (turd). So, this crawl animation works acceptably if the path is roughly horizontal or vertical relative to the slide. Here’s an example showing the problem for a diagonal path, first with the Vertical then the Horizontal options:

The “crooked” path used in the final animation complicates matters since the spider should turn at each change in direction. Here’s my trial and error approach:

  • Position the spider (all three elements) on the web,
  • Select the body and Custom motion path and draw the crooked path, keeping close to the horizontal – the path is highlighted here:


  • Eliminate the Smooth Start/Stop for the path.
  • The first rotation moves the spider to a roughly horizontal position – add the Spin effect, Clockwise, a little more than 90º to the body. Use the animation Preview to see if the body lines up with the path. Adjust the Spin value, repeat until satisfied.
  • The next turn looks like about 10º counterclockwise; Add this spin, set the duration – I used 0.3 sec since the turns are abrupt.  In the Animation Pane, use the “move” timeline tool to position the Spin a little less than a quarter of the way along the motion path duration (look at the motion path to estimate when the turn occurs).

TIP: The timeline tools allow you to adjust the timing of animation effects graphically. To use the timeline tools In the animation pane, position your cursor over the duration bar of the object. If the cursor is over the interior of the bar a “move” tool (a double-ended arrow) will appear. You can use this to move the bar along the timeline. If you touch the ends of the duration bar, a different tool will appear that allows you to adjust the length of the bar (the duration of the effect). This tool looks a little like this:c7.png. If the effect is Repeated, this tool can adjust the duration of the single effect as well as the total duration. You can zoom-in on the animation pane to make fine adjustments easier.

I don’t know what Microsoft calls these tools and I can’t find any detailed documentation.

  • Preview the animation and adjust the start time until the Spin occurs as the body reaches the first turn. Then adjust the Spin until the body points along the next segment – 12º seems to work.
  • Continue adding the Spin effects, previewing and adjusting as needed.

Here’s what the completed body animation pane looks like:


Next I copied, using the Animation Painter, the animation of the body to the left legs group. Since the body and the leg group have the same center (because of the added circles), the leg group Spins work as desired.

Now, using the “test run” as a guide, add the Grow/Shrink effects to the left leg group.

Finally, paint the left leg group animation, with the Grow/Shrink effects, onto the right leg group. I delayed the right legs by 0.2 sec. Here’s the final animation pane:


Here’s a similar animation; a robospider responding to an alarm on a network:

Here’s the construction for this spider:


The claw is made by Subtracting a Rectangle from a Moon shape and Unioning an Oval to the result. The other parts are standard shapes. The “search beam” is  gradient-filled.

The network is an image (JPG) obtained from a web source. The “alarm” is a white circle animated with Appear followed quickly by a Fade exit. The crawl animation is almost identical to the earlier example.

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

PowerPointy blog – Crawlers and Crawling

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


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