The Rapid Elearning Blog

PowerPoint animation tips

I’ve been reviewing a lot of the older PowerPoint tutorials that I’ve posted in the past. Most are still relevant, but a few have changed. In this post, we’ll do a refresh on the basics on PowerPoint animations.

PowerPoint Animation Basics

There are four types of animations in PowerPoint:

  • Entrance: object comes on to the slide
  • Exit: object leaves the slide
  • Emphasis: object remains in place, but animates to provide emphasis or become a focal point
  • Motion path: object follows a drawn path.

powerpoint animation panel

When selecting animations, keep in mind that there are additional animation choices at the bottom of the selection panel. And not all animations are supported when converted for e-learning. And one last tip, because you can animate doesn’t mean you should.

Triggering PowerPoint Animations

Animations are generally triggered by three things:

  • On click: object doesn’t animate until mouse click triggers the animation. This is what you need if you’re syncing animations with narration for your e-learning courses.
  • With previous: object animates with the previous animation. It also animates automatically if it’s the first object on the screen.
  • After previous: object animates after the previous animation.

When you select an animation and when it should start, you also have the option to set its duration and whether to delay or not. Once you understand how to time animations, you can compound them and create all sorts of effects.

You can also set triggers in PowerPoint to animate on other actions, such as clicking on a shape. These work great in PowerPoint by itself but are something I’d avoid when converting PowerPoint slides to an e-learning course.

PowerPoint Animation Pane

The PowerPoint animation pane gives you more control of the PowerPoint animations.

  • You can see the stacking order of animated objects.
  • How the objects are timed to the timeline.
  • Clicking on the drop down arrow exposes more advanced PowerPoint animation options such as start/stop effects and timing.


PowerPoint Animation Painter

You can add multiple animations to a single object. This allows you to create all sorts of complex animations. However, this can also be a time-consuming process. One production tip is to use the animation painter to copy animations from one object to another. This is especially useful if you need to repeat an animation on a different object.

powerpoint animation painter

Here are a Couple of Bonus Tips

When using motion paths, select one of the pre-built motion paths rather than drawing your own. You’ll end up with fewer edit points which will make the animation along the path much smoother. If you do need to draw a custom path, use the curved shape tool and edit the points.

PowerPoint animation motion path edit points

Use the selection pane [Home>Select>Selection Pane] to edit the names of the objects on the slide. It makes it a lot easier to understand what’s happening in the animation pane.

powerpooint animation selection pane

Here are some cool PowerPoint animation tutorials as well as a bunch more. They should spur all sorts of ideas.

Once you understand the basics of PowerPoint animations you’ll be able to create virtually anything you want and build e-learning courses in PowerPoint that won’t give away that they were created in PowerPoint.

Do you have any PowerPoint animation tips?


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

7 responses to “Essential PowerPoint Animations Tips”

August 15th, 2017


One thing I have found to be very useful when setting up animations (especially when objects have enter and exit animations) is to name the various objects I put on the slide using the Selection Pane instead of using the default names like Rectangle 1 or Graphic 2. It makes it much easier to identify what is happening in the Animation Pane.

You included most of my favorite PPT suggestions. But just to add a few more:

1- The selection pane is a game changer. Consider adding to your Quick Access Toolbar in PPT (and word)

2- the size and position window can make your animations that are on multiple slide look seamless. Use this instead of ‘nudging’ shapes one direction or another.

3- Love you comment about just because you can animate doesn’t mean you should. An early mistake I made when I thought I was getting really good… was to put too much animation on a single slide. My advice would be: 1)to keep it manageable and split as needed between slides and 2) to think about the customer and who will be using (and possibly updating)the PPT.

Love your blog. I originally found it when searching for a way to make a puzzle in PPT. Your solution was so easy and unique. I still use your video and quick tip as the ideal way to create performance support tools.

many thanks!!!


If I need an animation to show flow of current through a circuit where the current flows making 90 degrees left and then right and then down, how can I do it using animations?


August 16th, 2017

@Andy: use a motion path. You could set one to flow that way you want using the freeform motion path and draw it. Or you can create three separate motion paths for each movement. Just depends on what you want to do.

August 16th, 2017

@Barbara: Good tips

August 16th, 2017

@Jack: same here, I think naming the objects makes it a lot easier. You probably don’t need to name them if they’re static, but if you have animations, it definitely helps

August 18th, 2017

Haha. I didn’t know these simple tricks. Awesome. Thank you whoever you are!