Crawls, Tickers and Film Strips

A “crawl” or “ticker” is a moving line of text, often seen at the bottom of the screen during a TV news or sports presentation. In a PowerPoint presentation, a crawl can be used to introduce a quote or fact in an attention-grabbing way. A “filmstrip” of images can be displayed similarly. Also, a moving background using this technique can impart a sense of motion.

Warning: This technique, like other animations, will draw attention. This can be distracting rather than helpful. In fact, I have only used this in trade-show/kiosk displays and would suggest using it advisedly in typical stand-up presentations.

Here’s an example of a PowerPoint text crawl/ticker:

This is simply a text box with a motion path that moves the box from off the slide to the right to a position completely off the slide to the left. The smooth start/stop is eliminated and the duration is set to 20 seconds so that the text can be easily read. Here’s the set up (the motion path has been highlighted):


Depending on a number of factors, the animation might be jerky; if this is the case, here are some things to try to make the animation smoother:

  • Make sure “hardware graphics acceleration” (in the Slide Show tab) is enabled; this is the default for later versions of PowerPoint.
  • Slow the animation (increase duration)
  • Reduce the size of the animated object
  • Simplify the object; for example, eliminating shadow effects and gradient fills may help.
  • Convert the object to a jpg or png.
  • Use a more powerful PC/graphics card.
  • Convert the effect to a video clip (I’m planning a post on video in PowerPoint that will provide details).

Here’s an example using a “film strip” of images:

This effect uses the Repeat option so that the crawl continues (until the next slide, for example). There’s a trick to this:

  • Duplicate the original strip.
  • Position the duplicated strip end to end with the original and group the two.
  • Place the group so that the right edge is at the right edge of the slide.
  • Apply a Line motion path that ends at the right edge of the slide. Remove the smooth start/end options.
  • Select the Repeat until end of slide option. Here’s the set up:


  •  The blue rectangle represents the slide; the copy of the strip has been recolored for clarity. This video shows how this works:
  • If you want the strip to crawl onto the slide and then repeat, make a copy of the (single) strip, add a motion path so that it moves onto the slide. Then, replace it (Disappear, Appear) with the “double” version animated as above. Here’s what this looks like:
  • The three instances of the strip have been colored differently to demonstrate the animation. Here’s the animation pane:strip3

Similar techniques can be used to create the illusion of motion of a foreground object by moving a background; here’s a sketch:

The car enters the scene with a simple motion path; the background “crawls” using the techniques described here. The different rates of the background strips add a sense of depth. Here’s the animation pane:


This sketch could be improved by adding details to the buildings and animating the wheels of the vehicle (see this post for details). You might add clouds as a third layer, moving even more slowly.

If you want to try these techniques, use this form to request a free PowerPoint file containing these objects and animations:


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