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How to Add Animations to Your PowerPoint Presentations

This post is part of a series called How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide).
How to Record Narration in a PowerPoint Presentation
How to Control PowerPoint Animation with the Animation Pane

When you need to give a big presentation, PowerPoint is one of the most user-friendly tools to build a slide deck. A well-made PowerPoint captures the audience's attention and reinforces your presentation with visuals.

Few apps make it as easy as PowerPoint to add animations to your slides. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to add animations in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Note: In todays tutorial, we make use of the the popular Simplicity PowerPoint Template. You can find more great PowerPoint templates on GraphicRiver or browse through this curated selection of the best animated PowerPoint designs: 

How to Add Animations to PowerPoint (Quick Video)

In this short screencast, you'll watch me add animations to a PowerPoint presentation. I'll cover basic animations and sequencing them so that items appear in the order you want. Check out the screencast below to watch and learn. 


Keep going for a written version of these skills and some additional tips for mastering animations in PowerPoint.

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What Are Animations?

Animations are visual effects for the objects in your PowerPoint presentation. Animations are used to bring objects like text, images, or charts on or off your slide.

Microsoft calls these entrances and exits. An entrance is an animation that brings something onto the slide, while an exit will move an object off of the slide. An animation can be used to make an object enter or exit your slide (or even move it between spots on a slide.)

PowerPoint Animations
Use PowerPoint animations with PowerPoint templates such as Simplicity to animate your text and images.

My recommendation is to completely build out your presentation first, and add animations later. Focus on content and the ideas you want to convey, and add the sizzle later in the form of well-timed animations.

Note: While animations are the visual effects for objects on your slides, transitions are the animations that occur when you change slides. This tutorial will cover only animations. 

Make Your First Animation

It's easy to add an animation to your PowerPoint presentation. After you've finished inputting all of your content into a PowerPoint file, you can begin adding your animations:

  1. Click on an object to select it on any slide. This could be an image, chart, or block of text.
  2. Now, find the Animations tab on the ribbon.
  3. Find the Animation menu, which has star icons on it. Each one of these represents an animation effect.
  4. Click on one of the animation effects to add it to the selected object. In this example, I'm going to click on Fade so that the text will fade in.
Select object and animate
In this example, I've clicked on the text on my PowerPoint slide, then clicked on the Fade animation to bring it onto the slide.

You'll know that a slide contains animation when a small orange box with a number appears on the slide. Preview your animations by clicking on the Preview button on the far left side of the Animation tab in PowerPoint.

PowerPoint Animation Preview
Click on the Preview button of the Animations tab to play a preview of your animations.

Your animation will play when you switch to Slide Show mode. Each time you click the mouse button or press a button on a presentation "clicker", the slide will advance. This could mean going on to the next slide, or animating in the next slide object. 

That's it! You've added your first animation to PowerPoint. Practice your skill by adding it to another element, such as a chart or image. Let's look at other animation styles.

Explore PowerPoint Animation Styles

PowerPoint has a great variety of styles to animate objects on your slides with. With the animation presets, you can quickly bring an object on or off a slide with one click.

On the Animations tab of the ribbon, there are many one-click styles to apply to an image. You can scroll down in this menu to view them, or click the small double arrow to the lower right to view them all at once.

See the screenshot below for the full list of animations:

More PowerPoint Animation Styles
Click the small double arrow next to "Effect Options" to open up the entire list of PowerPoint animation effects.

There's a large list of animations to choose from. Here's a simple key to understand how they work:

  • Animations with green icons will cause objects to enter the slide
  • Animations with yellow icons will animate on the slide in some way, such as spinning or pulsing (good for drawing attention to specific objects)
  • Animations with red icons will cause objects to exit the slide

The names of the slide are also good clues for understanding what the animations will do. "Fly out" will obviously cause an object to exit the PowerPoint slide, while "Float In" is indicative of an object coming onto the slide.

Spend time trying out the various PowerPoint animation effects. You can click on each one and PowerPoint will play a short preview, right on the slide.

Add Your Second PowerPoint Animation

So far, we've animated a single object onto our PowerPoint slide. Now, let's add our second!

To add a second animation to a slide, simply select another object. Then, click on one of the animations from the menu again.

Multiple animations
A slide with multiple animations in PowerPoint.

Once you add a second animation to a slide, you'll notice that each animated object has a small number in a box next to it. That number indicates which order the objects will animate in. A box with a "1" will be animated first, and a "2" will be animated after it.

What if you want to change the order of our animations? Read on to find out about sequencing the animations the slide.

How to Sequence Your PowerPoint Animations

After you've added animations to several objects, you may want to re-sequence the order that they enter or exit the slide. Let's say that I want the body right box in the screenshot to fly in first, and then the header labeled "Simplicity" to come in after it.

To adjust the animation sequence, make sure that you're working within the Animations panel on the PowerPoint ribbon. Then, find the option labeled Animation Pane and click on it.

On the right side of PowerPoint, the Animation Pane will open. This menu will help you re-sequence your animations in PowerPoint.

Animation Sequencing in PowerPoint
The Animation Panel shows the order that our objects will animate in and that we can use to reorder our animations.

Right now, my "Simplicity" header is shows a "1" next to it, meaning that it comes in first. The paragraph comes in second, and you can see that it has a "2" next to it.

On the Animation Panel, all that we need to do is drag and drop to re-sequence the animations. If I want the paragraph to come in first, I'll move it up in the list of my animations.

The paragraph is labeled "TextBox 23" in the animation panel, so I'm going to click and drag it up in the ordered list of animations as you see me doing in the GIF below:

PowerPoint Animation Panel Gif
Working with the PowerPoint Animation Panel.

Notice that the number next to the paragraph changes from a "2" to a "1" after we reorder the list of items. This means that it will now be the second animated object on the slide.

When you're managing many objects on a single slide, the animation pane is really helpful. It can help you visualize what order that objects are entering or leaving your PowerPoint slide, and you can quickly reorder them just by dragging and dropping.

When To Use Animations in Your PowerPoint Presentations

Here's the thing: presentations aren't about animations or how fancy your slides are, it's about holding your audience's attention.

This quote from one of my favorite movies is a great way to think about using animations:

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. - Jurassic Park

Just because you can add animations, doesn't mean you should. Are they improving your presentation, or just distracting your audience from your message?

Using too many animations is distracting. When you have objects flying in and out of the slide, you'll lose the attention from your audience.

Here are four key principles for applying animations in PowerPoint tastefully:

  • Keep objects off screen until you're ready to talk about them. 
  • If you put everything on the slide at once, your audience will stop paying attention to what you're saying, and start paying attention to the text on your slides.
  • Use simple transitions such as Appear or Fade to keep your slides simple and clean.
  • Limit your animations to one or two per slide to maintain simplicity.

Play the presentation to yourself before presenting it. If you feel like you have too many animations on your slide, consider removing some of them.

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Recap and Keep Learning

In this tutorial, you learned to use PowerPoint animations to tastefully animate elements on your slide. Bringing those key bullet points or images on the slide at the right time will make for a great presentation.

You've got momentum to level up your PowerPoint skills now. Why stop here? These are additional tutorials to keep learning more about making great PowerPoint presentations:

  • Brad Smith's tutorial 37 Effective PowerPoint Presentation Tips will get you fired up about your presentation and offers actionable advice to make them awesome.
  • Sven Lenaerts has a 10 Tips and Tricks style guide with more details on some of the features that we touched on in this tutorial. It's the perfect advice to learn how to go deeper with your PowerPoint animations.
  • If you're tired of using basic built-in PowerPoint themes, Sean Hodge has a list of the best styles of 2016 to improve the look of your presentations.

How do you like to use PowerPoint animations? And what are your best tips for using them tastefully to hold the audience's attention?

You can also find thousands of professional PowerPoint templates on GraphicRiver or discover more great design options in our Ultimate PowerPoint Templates Guide.

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