1. Business
  2. Presentations

What Is a Motion Path in PowerPoint? & How to Use Them (+Video)

Scroll to top
Scroll to top
Read Time: 11 min
This post is part of a series called How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide).
How to Control PowerPoint Animation With the Animation Pane
How to Embed Excel Files and Link Data Into PowerPoint
This post is part of a series called Presentation Fundamentals.
How to Use and Edit PowerPoint PPT Master Slides
How to Embed (YouTube & Other) Videos into PowerPoint PPT Presentations

PowerPoint animations are powerful ways to bring dramatic effects to your presentations. They help you add motion to static objects on your slides. You can totally customize those animations with motion path in PowerPoint.

Intro custom motion path illustrationIntro custom motion path illustrationIntro custom motion path illustration
Learn how to use motion path in PowerPoint settings for total animation control.

As you learn how to use motion paths in PowerPoint, you'll see that you've got complete control. You can very precisely control how each object animates. Let's learn how to get the most from motion path in PowerPoint features in this tutorial.

Learn About PowerPoint Motion Paths Now (Quickstart Video)

Are you ready to start using PowerPoint motion paths right now? Watch this short video to find out what you need to know to use motion paths today.

To learn even more about motion paths, read the written tutorial below.

What Is a Motion Path in PowerPoint?

When you use animations, you bring your content to life. 

Animations are fun and dramatic. They also help you control the pace and flow of your slide deck.

Animations are different from another popular PowerPoint feature: transitions. Transitions control the change and movement from one slide to another. Animations impact only objects on a given slide. 

Animations are very easy to add in PowerPoint. The app itself has a robust suite of features with countless animation presets built in. Most are basic motions:

  • fades
  • wipes
  • emphasis effects
  • and so on

But what if you need more control over an object’s movement?

Motion path GIF exampleMotion path GIF exampleMotion path GIF example
Motion paths in PowerPoint help you create custom animation routes like these.

This is where motion path in PowerPoint features come in. With a motion path, you gain control of how objects move.

What is a motion path in PowerPoint? It’s the best way to gain complete design control over object motion. You may choose to move it in a straight line, along a shaped path, or in a unique and custom direction. 

Motion path in PowerPoint designs are applied like animations. But they give you much more flexibility over how your presentation looks onscreen. If you need to add a higher level of visual interest, motion paths are your best friend. Read on to learn how to use motion paths in PowerPoint.

How to Create a PowerPoint Motion Path

Once you've got your template open in Microsoft PowerPoint, it’s time to get started building a motion path design. Let’s use a real-world example to bring the concept to life. 

Get started with a premium template from Envato Elements. With thousands of stunning PPT templates to choose from, you’re sure to find a great choice for your next project.

Sirius motion path in PowerPointSirius motion path in PowerPointSirius motion path in PowerPoint
Download the Sirius Presentation Template to follow along with our tutorial now.

For this tutorial, we’ll work with the sleek modern Sirius Presentation Template from Envato Elements. Download it today to follow along.

The tips in this section were written using Windows and Office 365. If you’ve got different operating system or a different version of PowerPoint, your steps may be slightly different.

1. Our Motion Path in PowerPoint Example

In the slide below, you’ll see a basic corporate structure chart built out. The box at the far left side represents an existing company that’s going to be split into three new operating groups.

We want to set apart "Widget Service Co" with a custom motion path that shows that it's a new standalone company.

Setup motion path slideSetup motion path slideSetup motion path slide
Transform these shapes into something special by adding a motion path in PowerPoint.

On its face, the slide is a basic visual representation of this approach. But it also seems rather static. It doesn’t move! By adding a PowerPoint motion path here, you can bring this compelling visual to life.

2. Add Motion Paths in PowerPoint

We can begin by adding a motion path to the first of the three new companies. Remember, each one is represented by its own square. By adding a motion path, we’ll transform this static chart into a dynamic illustration. It’ll wow any audience. 

Keep in mind: simpler is better when it comes to motion paths. It’s easy to add fancy, dramatic effects. But if you go too far, you’ll distract from your key message. So here, let’s add a smooth effect to move each subsidiary’s box across the slide. 

To begin, click on an object to select it. Here, that’s the orange box here at the top. Then, find PowerPoint’s ribbon. This is the series of menus and options across the top of your screen, labeled File, Home, Insert, and more. 

On the ribbon, click Animations. The Animations tab launches, with an array of options visible. Much of the space is filled by the Animation preview gallery. Inside it, you’ll see a drop-down arrow.

Animation options motion pathsAnimation options motion pathsAnimation options motion paths
Click the Animations tab, then explore the Motion Paths group on the dropdown menu.

Click this to explore the full collection of PowerPoint animations. They’re grouped into categories, and the one you need is the Motion Paths group.

Inside it, there are several style options for motion path PPT designs. These include:

  • lines
  • arcs
  • turns
  • shapes
  • loops
  • custom path
Focus on motion pathsFocus on motion pathsFocus on motion paths
Motion path options in PPT include lines, turns, loops, and more.

The thumbnail image beside each shows the type of motion effect that the path adds to a selected shape. Remember here that the goal is to move the box in a straight line. To add this effect, click Lines.

Instantly, PowerPoint applies a motion path and preview it on the slide. It’s that easy!

3. Edit PowerPoint Motion Paths

With the motion path added, you’ll see it preview in real time. However, you might not want to use the default setting. Here, for example, the box moves downward. It would be far better to shift it to the right. This adds a visual “wow” factor, without moving one box over the others! 

Always be careful to avoid causing confusion and distraction with PPT motion paths. Again, the trick is to keep things simple and elegant.

With a motion path selected, you can easily control how it appears. Notice that the shape is selected and displays a small orange #1 beside it. This indicates that an animation effect - the motion path - is applied to the shape. Now, look back at the ribbon. You’ll see a dropdown menu just right of center, labeled Effect Options. Click here.

With the Effect Options menu open, you can precisely control how the motion path you’ve added works. In the Direction group, you can change how it moves. Here, click Right. This moves the object from left to right along the motion path.

Motion path settings updateMotion path settings updateMotion path settings update
Use the Effect Options dropdown to control how your motion path in PowerPoint works.

Below, you can change the origin setting. This determines whether you can later move an object without moving its set motion path. Plus, you can reverse the direction of the motion path. 

When you’re finished, you’re all set! For this example, you can repeat the same steps for the other two squares. Add a rightward motion path to them, then click Preview. You’ll see them animate just as you’ve specified, bringing the slide to life.

4. Custom Motion Path Styles in PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, you can add custom motion paths to shapes. This way, you can specify exactly where and how an object moves on a slide. 

To do this, be sure you’re working on the Animation tab. Then, with an object selected, add a motion path as we did above. But this time, choose Custom Path from the gallery of options. 

When you choose Custom Path, your cursor transforms into a set of crosshairs. Position it over the center of the shape. Then, click once. You’ll now be drawing a custom path. In short, this is the track your shape follows as it begins to move.

Custom motion path illustrationCustom motion path illustrationCustom motion path illustration
Using Custom Path, you can precisely control where and how an object moves around your PPT slide.

When you’ve clicked, move your cursor along the path you want to build for your shape. You can move in any direction - up, down, or sideways. It’s smart to move slowly here to keep things on track.

When you’ve arrived at your desired endpoint, click once. PowerPoint locks in your custom track as a new motion path! It’s that easy.

What is a motion path in PowerPoint? As it turns out, it's the key to creating your ideal slide with animation. Try it today!

The Top Source for Stunning Motion Path PowerPoint Templates (For 2023)

Envato Elements is the best place to find stunning templates for your next motion path in PowerPoint project. For a flat monthly rate, you can download and use as many of these amazing templates as you want.

Plus, Elements includes millions of other digital assets, like fonts, stock photos, and much more.

With unlimited downloads, you’ll unlock unlimited creative potential. Your options are limitless. You’ll benefit from premium templates, far superior to any free designs you might find elsewhere online. 

Find PowerPoint Templates

What is a motion path in PowerPoint templateWhat is a motion path in PowerPoint templateWhat is a motion path in PowerPoint template
Choose from thousands of PowerPoint templates on Elements with motion paths.

When you choose an Envato Elements PowerPoint motion path template, you’ll enjoy:

  • custom chart and infographic designs
  • easy-to-customize graphics and features
  • professional styles built by creative experts
  • placeholders to add text and images easily

It’s easy to see that Envato Elements is the best creative investment you can make in 2023! Don’t miss out. 

Let’s check out five of the top motion path in PowerPoint templates from Envato Elements. All are trending now:

1. Motion PowerPoint Template

Motion PowerPoint templateMotion PowerPoint templateMotion PowerPoint template

Motion is a flexible template, ready for use in a motion path design. Users love it for all these reasons:

  • 3D vector icons and infographics that are perfect for animations
  • widescreen slide layouts to fill any format screen
  • a fresh and clean orange and white style

2. Ardeon PowerPoint Presentation Creative Template

Ardenon motion Path template in PowerPointArdenon motion Path template in PowerPointArdenon motion Path template in PowerPoint

Ardeon is a bright purple template for business. It offers no shortage of design options:

  • includes 49 slides inside, with layouts for any topic
  • over 1,000 vector icons
  • dozens of color options and font designs for total flexibility to any presentation need

3. Novate PowerPoint Presentation Template

Novate motion path in PowerPointNovate motion path in PowerPointNovate motion path in PowerPoint

Images are a top choice for a motion path in PowerPoint design. Choose this one for a motion path design thanks to its unique features:

  • five color schemes for a variety of looks and feels
  • includes over 50 custom slide designs inside, so you'll never re-use a design
  • maps, device mockups, and other custom illustrations for unique slide designs

4. Anaa PowerPoint

Anaa motion path in PowerPointAnaa motion path in PowerPointAnaa motion path in PowerPoint

Well-built master slide layouts streamline the bulk edit process in Anaa. This slide leans on clean and minimal design principles. Leverage the free fonts as well to make your use of Anaa as easy as possible. You'll love all of these features:

  • 32 unique slide designs
  • drag-and-drop image placeholders for easy slide rebuilds
  • pre-built Excel charts that just need your data for easy use

5. OZEN PowerPoint Template

Ozen what is a motion path in PowerPointOzen what is a motion path in PowerPointOzen what is a motion path in PowerPoint

OZEN is a colorful PPT template to use with your motion path vision. This template features all of the following:

  • unlimited options, with 50 colorful templates with 60 slides each
  • dozens of icons and image placeholders
  • 30 icon slides for easy image stand-ins when you want to reduce word count

More Top Templates for Microsoft PowerPoint

This tutorial featured one of our top PowerPoint templates that makes design work easy. Templates are time savers that help you feel confident in your work.

We frequently cover the best PowerPoint templates. They save our readers time and work perfectly for motion path in PowerPoint designs. Check out more of the best templates below:

You Just Learned How to Use Motion Paths in PowerPoint

What is a motion path in PowerPoint? Now you know they give you total control. With motion paths, you can animate in totally custom ways. Combine these with premium PowerPoint templates for custom, creative designs.

Now, it's your turn. Here's a challenge:

Reimagine a slide you're working on with a motion path in PowerPoint. With more options, you've got more control. That means more ways than ever to engage your audience.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published by Bob Flisser in 2014. It's been completely rewritten to make it up to date and relevant for our readers and a video has been added with help from Andrew Childress.

Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Business tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
One subscription. Unlimited Downloads.
Get unlimited downloads