PowerPoint 101: Top 3 Animations That Make Any Presentation Look Good

Getting started with PowerPoint animations can be tough: not only do you need to learn when (and how) to add animations to PowerPoint, but you also need to decide which ones are the best to use. PowerPoint gives you lots of options, and if you know what you are doing, you can create some amazing animations. But not all of those options are as useful as the others, and there’s an art to choosing the ones that will most effectively convey your message.

But if you are new to PowerPoint animations, there are a few you should practice with first. We think these are the most widely applicable, and generally the most effective animations that PowerPoint offers.

First, a word about the PowerPoint Animation Pane

At the highest level, PowerPoint categorizes animation types as “Entrance”, “Exit”, “Emphasis” and “Paths”. Depending on how your PowerPoint window is sized, they might be named accordingly, or just color coded until you click into them. All of the animation effects are accessible by clicking animation at the top and then selecting from there.

“Entrance” effects are green.

“Exit” effects are red.

“Emphasis” effects are yellow.

“Paths” have an arrow.

Entrance and Exit effects mirror each: one animates objects onto the screen, and one takes them away. Emphasis offers some interesting choices, like changing the size of an object. Paths will move an object around the screen. In addition, Emphasis and Paths animations can be combined in more advanced ways.

All the animations we’re suggesting below are Entrance or Exit effects. In general, these tend to be the most useful and most approachable for beginners.

Fade Animation

We talked in a previous blog about how Fades are a great addition to almost any PowerPoint – they are subtle, smooth, and can give some elegance to any content. In fact, even if we are not using any on-slide animations at all, we will often still include Fade transitions in between slides. It adds an understated sense of polish and professionalism, without calling any extra attention to itself. The Fade animation is a PowerPoint designer's best friend.

Wipes and Splits

With the right types of objects, Wipes can look amazing in use. For example, any time you have a long line, such as a piece of piping (or thin-lined rule), adding an Entrance Wipe creates the illusion that it’s drawing in. Arrows are also a great candidate for wipes, as they naturally lend themselves to the sense of motion and direction that a Wipe offers. Alternatively, elongated lozenges (i.e. diamonds) pair well with Exit Wipes for a visually pleasing takeaway. In general shapes that are more square, or things like images, tend to not look great wiping in.

Splits function similarly to wipes, except where wipes move from one direction to the other, splits work from the inside out (or vice versa). As a bonus, try using the Wheel animation this same way with the outline of a circle.

Rise Up

If there was an imaginary line between too aggressive and lots of drama, Rise Up stops just short of being too hot to handle. It’s an excellent choice for that one takeaway at the end of the slide, but it can also be a very pleasing way to see certain graphical elements slot into a slide.

Here’s an advanced tip to try out: if you had, for example, 5 circles in a horizontal row, try setting them to rise up at the same time and then setting them on consecutive 0.1 second delays. The resulting effect has a pleasant wave-like vibe that cascades into your screen.

Try out these easy and effective PowerPoint animations

Hopefully, this article has sparked your interest in using PowerPoint animations. Even if you’re still feeling unsure or intimidated, we recommend playing around with animations for a bit, and once you’re more comfortable with using them, you’ll start seeing more and more opportunities to use them. Next thing you know, you’ll have the best looking PowerPoints around!


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