How to Control PowerPoint Animation with the Animation Pane

You already know how to add animations to objects in PowerPoint, but what if you want more control over the individual animation timing and arrangement? That's where the Animation Pane and Advanced Timeline in PowerPoint come in. These are especially useful tools when you have a lot of objects moving around and you want to sync their timing.
The Animation Pane lists of the objects on a slide that have animation applied. You can use it to reorder the animation sequence and choose options for the animations. When objects have different durations and get triggered automatically, their bars on the timeline indicate it with different lengths. The timeline vaguely resembles what you might see in a multimedia program like Adobe Flash, though it isn’t as extensive—but then, it doesn't need to be for what PowerPoint does.
In this tutorial, I'll show you how you can use the Animation Pane in PowerPoint to apply entrance, emphasis and exit effects to text, tables, shapes, images, video clips and any other objects on a slide that you can select.



You can follow along with this tutorial using your own PowerPoint presentation if you'd like. Or if you prefer, download the zip file included for this tutorial, which contains a sample presentation called timeline.pptx.
The presentation has 4 slides and no animations or transitions applied. Play the presentation just to see how it looks. Either click the Slide Show button on the bottom of the screen (right side in Windows, left side on the Mac) or use the shortcut: F5 (Windows) or Ctrl-F5 (Mac). Then just click through or press Enter to go through the slides.

Three Stages of Animation

After you finish the slide show, go to slide 1. There are three items to animate: company name, text in the yellow box, and subtitle below the yellow box.
There are 3 available times of an object’s animation.
  1. Entrance: how the object first appears
  2. Emphasis: what the object does once it’s on the slide
  3. Exit: how the object leaves the slide
These timings can be exclusive, if you want. For example, you can have an object that has an animated exit, but not an animated entrance.

Applying Entrance Animation

Let’s apply entrance effects to all three objects. Click inside the company name (Acme Antimatter) and click the Animations tab on the ribbon. Apply animation in one of three ways, as you can see in the screen capture, below:
  1. Select an effect in the Animation section or click the More button and select an effect
  2. Click the Add Animation drop-down and select an animation
  3. Click the Add Animation drop-down, then click More Entrance Effects, then choose one from the dialog box
3 ways of choosing animation
Three ways of applying animation to an object
Notice the small “1” in the box next to it. Now apply entrance effects to the other two objects the same way. The slide should now show a “2” and a “3”, so it looks like this:
3 animated objects
Numbers attached to objects indicate the order of animation

Re-Ordering Animation in Windows

Since the yellow box text now comes in second, let’s change it so it comes in first (the company name will then come in second).
In Windows, click the Animation Pane button on the ribbon. That will display the pane on the right side, with the three objects listed.
button to display animation pane
Object animation is listed in the Animation Pane
Either drag the #2 item to the top, until you see a thin horizontal bar at the top of the stack, OR select the #2 item and click the Up Arrow on top of the stack.
change the order of animation
Re-order animation either by dragging list items in the Animation Pane or by using the Up and Down Arrows
On the slide, the company name will now show a “2” box and the yellow box text will show a “1” box. Run the slide again, and that will be the order they appear.

Re-Ordering Animation on the Mac

The steps are similar on the Mac. Click the Reorder button, and that will display the floating Custom Animation box, also with the three objects listed.
re-ordering animation on the Macintosh
On the Mac, use the Reorder button to change the order of animation
Either drag the #2 item to the top (there won’t be any thin bar to guide you), OR select the #2 item and click the Up Arrow below the stack of objects.
Now it’s the same as in Windows: on the slide, the company name will now show a “2” box, and the yellow box text will show a “1” box. Run the slide again, and that will be the order they appear.

Applying Emphasis and Exit Animation

When you apply additional animation to the same object, the timeline will display the object more than once. An object will be listed once for each stage of animation.
Let’s add an emphasis to the yellow box text. Click anywhere inside it, but if you’re using Windows, don’t just choose an animation from the main part of the ribbon, or you’ll remove the box’s original animation. We want to add an effect to the existing one, so click the Add Animation drop-down and select an emphasis animation from the list, or choose More Emphasis Effects and choose one from the drop-down.
adding an emphasis effect
To add additional animations, click the Add Animation button and choose from the list
If you’re using a Mac, you do select an emphasis effect from the list. Unlike the Windows version, this will add an animation, and not override the previous one.
Now use the same method to apply an exit effect.
The result is that the yellow box text has indicators on the slide and in the timeline showing that it’s #1, 4 and 5 in the sequence.
boxes that indicate animation order
When an object has multiple animations, they're listed in the Animation Pane
Play the presentation, and you see it comes in second, does its emphasis, then exits before the company name and Customer Support text, since they don’t have any exit effects. So two adjustments to make:
  1. Make the emphasis last longer
  2. Make all three items exit together
In the Animation Pane in the Windows version, put the mouse pointer on the end of the #4 bar so that the mouse pointer becomes a 2-headed arrow. Drag to the right, so the bar indicates that it’s now 2 or 3 seconds:
dragging a bar to extend animation time
Extend the duration of an animation by extending its bar on the timeline
If you’re using a Mac, the Animation Order box doesn’t have timing bars. To increase the time of this effect, use the Duration box on the right side of the ribbon. (See screen capture, below.)
Now click inside the Acme Antimatter text, then Shift-click inside the Customer Support Overview text, so both text boxes become selected. The same way you did before, add the same exit effect that you chose for the yellow box text.
If you run the presentation now, you’ll see that the yellow box text still exits first. We want both #6 effects in the timeline to happen concurrently with the #5 item. In Windows, either right-click it or click the drop-down arrow and select Start With Previous. You can also choose With Previous from the Start drop down on the ribbon.
starting an animation with the previous animation
Making an animation start when the previous event starts
If you’re using a Mac, select both #6 items in the Animation Order box, click the Start drop-down, then select With Previous.
starting an animation with the previous one on the Macintosh
On the Mac, you can choose With Previous from the Start drop-down on the ribbon
Now when you run the presentation, all 3 items will exit simultaneously.

Controlling the Animation of Text

When you have a placeholder of bulleted text, you can control how much of it comes in at once. Go to slide 2, which has a headline and bullets on the first and second levels.
As before, select the headline and apply an entrance effect, then do the same for the box of bulleted text. When you play the slide, you’ll see that when there are second-level bullets, they enter all at once with the first-level bullet above them. The numbering shows that will happen:
second-level bullets animating with first-level bullets
By default, sub-bullets do their animation together with the bullets above them
Let’s change that so each line comes in separately. In Windows, click anywhere in the bullet text, then in the Animation Pane, either right-click the second item or roll the mouse pointer over it and click the drop-down. From the drop-down, choose either Effect Options or Timing.
timing effect options screen
Choose Effect Options or Timing from an object in the Animation Pane to change the sequencing of bulleted text
A dialog box appears, and it has three tabs: Effect Options, Timing, and Text Animation. Click the Text Animation tab. Click the Group Text drop-down list and select By 2nd Level Paragraphs (or a higher number).
grouping by second level paragraphs
The Text Animation tab has a drop-down for "Group With" that determines how sub-bullets will be animated
Click OK, and you’ll get a preview of the animation running, with each line of text coming in separately. Run the slide show to get a better look.
This feature works mostly the same on the Mac. Instead of right-clicking the item in the Animation Order box, you twirl open the Text Animations section. The choices are the same as in Windows.
text animations screen on the Macintosh
On the Mac, you control text animation timings using the Text Animation twirl-down section of the Custom Animation dialog

Controlling the Animation of a Chart

Chart animation is similar to text animation. Go to slide 3 of the presentation, which has a simple column chart. Select the chart, then in the Animations tab of the ribbon, choose an entrance effect. You’ll see a preview of the animation, which shows the whole chart entering at once. The chart will be listed as one item in the Animation Pane.
chart gets animated all at once
Charts get animated just like text
You can make the bars enter in various orders: each group (year) entering at once, each series (set of 4 columns) entering at once, the columns of each series entering one at a time, or each column entering one at a time, from left to right.
In Windows, right-click the Chart 4 item in the Animation Pane, then select either Effect Options or Timing. In the dialog box that appears, click the Chart Animation tab. That tab has only one thing in it: a drop-down list. Click it and make a choice, then click OK. Try a few of them to see which one you like.
The Mac version also works like animating text. After applying the animation, make the adjustments in the Chart Animations twirl-down section of the Custom Animation box or with the Effect Options button on the ribbon.
chart animation options on the Macintosh
On the Mac, use the Chart Animations twirl-down section to control the timings of chart pieces

Synchronize Automatic Timings

The Animation Pane is especially helpful when object animations run automatically, rather than with a mouse click. The main difference between the Windows and Mac versions is that the Mac doesn’t display an actual timeline, with horizontal bars. Otherwise, the capabilities of the Custom Animation dialog box are the same.
Go to slide 4 of the timeline presentation. The horizontal arrow is one object, and if you click one of the thumbnail images, you’ll see it’s grouped with the description, arrow and month. We’ll apply animation to the horizontal arrow, then to each of these groups.
groups of objects in the Schedule slide
In the included sample file, the month name, description, arrow and thumbnail of each month's objects are grouped, so they will all get animated together

Animating the Horizontal Arrow

Select the horizontal arrow, and from the Animations tab, apply a Wipe transition. Click Effect Options and choose From Left. On the Mac, it’s the same thing, and you’ll find the Effect Options section as a twirl-down in the Custom Animation toolbox and also on the ribbon.
applying a direction for an object wiping in
After applying the Wipe effect to the main arrow, make it wipe from left to right
On the right side of the ribbon, note the Timing group, which has settings for Start, Duration and Delay options. For the horizontal bar, leave the default settings, which should be:
  • Start: On click
  • Duration: half second
  • Delay: none
On the Mac, these options are in the Timing twirl-down section of the Custom Animation toolbox.
Preview the slide, if you want.

Animating the Groups of Objects

Select the first group (“Acme Purchases Tablets”). It’s easiest to select the group by clicking the image thumbnail. On the ribbon, choose the Wipe effect, and make it wipe upwards, which should be the default direction. Use these timings:
  • Start after previous
  • Duration: half second
  • Delay: 1 second
This means that 1 second after the horizontal bar finishes, this group of objects will spend half a second wiping upwards.
A quick way of applying the same settings to the other two groups of objects that are above the bar is to use the Animation Painter. Leave the first group selected, then on the ribbon bar, double-click the Animation Painter. Now click the other two thumbnails above the horizontal bar.
Since you’re done with the Animation Painter for a moment, you need to exit it. Either press the Esc key or click the Animation Painter. The mouse pointer will become normal, again.
If you’re using the Mac, there is no Animation Painter. You have to apply the animation to the other groups manually, as you just did with the first group.
Now animate the two groups below the horizontal arrow. Select the first group, apply the Wipe effect, and have it wipe downwards from the top. Make sure it uses the same timings as the others:
  • Start after previous
  • Duration: half second
  • Delay: 1 second
In the Windows version, click the Animation Painter (only a single-click, this time), then click the Stock Fluctuations group. In the Mac version, manually apply the animation to the other groups.
The slide should now look like the screen capture below, with the timeline showing the progression of the animations. Note there is only 1 mouse icon in the Animation Pane: it shows that we have to click (or press Enter) just once. That will make the horizontal arrow come in, and everything else will follow automatically.
mouse icon in the Animation Pane
After applying animation to all the groups, the timeline shows the sequence
Preview the slide. It’s almost right, except the group below July should wipe down simultaneously with the group above July wiping up.
Click the top July item, and notice that it’s Group 6, which is 4th on the list. The bottom July item is Group 7, which is 6th (last) on the list.
group 6 and group 7 listed in the Animation Pane
When you select a group, you'll see its position in the Animation Pane
Bump Group 7 up in the Animation Pane one spot, so it’s just below Group 6. Set the timings as follows:
  • Start: with previous
  • Duration: half second
  • Delay: 1 second
In the Windows version, that makes the green bars for Groups 6 and 7 run concurrently in the timeline. But now the last group needs to be delayed for 1 second, so you can either drag its green bar to the right, or select the group and set the delay to 1 second.
Also notice that below the timeline, there is a scale of seconds. You can drag the box on this scale left or right to see all the timings.
slide with all animations applied
To change animation timings, either use the Timing controls on the ribbon, or drag and resize the horizontal bars in the timeline
Preview the slide when you’re done.


PowerPoint’s Animation Pane and timeline are great features that give you detailed control over object animations. Remember that to use it, you apply an animation first, then choose an option in the Animation Pane or toolbox on the Mac. And don’t forget that some of the most important features are in the third tab of a pop-up dialog box from a right-click menu.


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