In principle, and with a lot of mindless patience, it is possible to animate all sorts of things by duplicating and modifying the whole slide, as demonstrated in the previous section. Why then use the animation tools built into powerPoint at all? Part of the answer lies in the "mindless patience" bit of the last sentence. Whole slide animation is very slow and if you leave something out of a slide by accident.... you end up having to rebuild the entire sequence.

The animation tools help to get round both of these issues at a price of a slight increase in complexity.....

The other advantage of the animation tools is that they have an intrinsic motion of their own. In this demo, the "wipe" animation was used to draw the eye along and emphasize the important parts of the presentation.


Reasonably stepwise instructions on how to create a chart in MS Excel and import and animate it in powerpoint.

Animation of the simple barChart uses ony one of the many animation tools available in powerPoint.

If your presentation doesn't turn out quite like the recipe then there are links to download various of the powerpoints for you to play with.

How to make an Animated Bar Chart

First, create a bar chart with titles and axis labels in excel, import it into powerPoint, convert it into a picture and break it into its component parts.... This is easier than it sounds. Click here for detailed instructions.

This is a default simple bar chart, possibly the dullest graph ever. Nevertheless, it will work as a demonstration and the animation techniques that follow work just as well with more interesting graphs.

Alternatively, a Blue Peter version is here.

The first stage of the animation process is to group some parts of the graph.

  1. Select all the numbers on the Y-axis and the Y-axis title and group them. To group, click "FORMAT" and then "Group" and then "Group" (on the dropdown menu) or alternatively (<ALT>JDAGG).
  2. Select all the numbers on the X-axis and the X-axis title and group them.
  3. Select the x-axis and the horizontal lines and group them. If grouping places the horizontal lines in front of the bars of the chart then send them backwards... <ALT>JDAEB
  4. Now For the animating bit

  5. Select the group of numbers and the label on the X axis.
  6. Click ANIMATIONS, select Wipe . Or use the longwinded "shortcut" <ALT>AAAEWWW<ENTER>
  7. Set the "Effect Options" to "From Left". <ALT>AOL
  8. Select the group of numbers and the label on the X axis and repeat step 5. Check that "Effect Options" is set to "From Bottom" (<ALT>AOB)
  9. Select the horizontal lines, repeat steps 5 & 6
  10. Select the bars of the barChart and repeat step 5, "Effect Options" should be "From Bottom".

You could stop here. Run your slide show. It should start with only the graph title visible and the other elements should emerge with each advance, starting with the independent variable axis and culminating with the data themselves.

I usually do one more thing, which is to run together the first three animations. Select the Y-axis group, Click "ANIMATIONS" and change "Start" to "With Previous"(<ALT>ATW<ENTER>). Select the horizontal lines and repeat (<ALT>ATW<ENTER>)

Now when you play your powerPoint, it should look something like the animation below.....

The title appears when you start the slide, which should help you, the presenter remember what is coming next. One click brings up the axes, to give you the opportunity to explain to your audience the point and purpose of the graph and, maybe create a little bit of suspense. The third click reveals the data....

.....Click anywhere on the movie to advance.... or use the "play" button.

You can skip all the hard work and download the finished version here.

Bonus Animation

Having come this far, it would be a shame not to to offer a bonus animation......

  1. Select the bars of the barChart, click "ANIMATIONS" and then "Add Animation" and then select "Wipe" from the EXIT group (in red). (<ALT>AAAXWWW<ENTER>. Change the "Effect Options" to "From Top" (<ALT>AOT)
  2. Now your bars have two animations. One to appear and another to disappear and they should wipe into invisibility on the next click
  3. Go back to excel and change the data, taking care to ensure that the X and Y axes don't change.
  4. Insert a new page into your powerpoint and import your new graph in exactly the same way as the original one.
  5. After ungrouping, select the bars of your new barChart and animate to wipe from the bottom (<ALT>AAAEWWW<ENTER>, <ALT>AOB)
  6. Cut and paste the bars from the new slide into the previous slide. They will paste slightly offset, so drag them until they lie exactly over the original bars.
  7. Delete the second slide

Your Presentation should now look something like this...... which is a great way to illustrate, for example "before-and-after" sequences

This presentation is available here.

The final version of this powerpoint is a little confusing because the two data sets lie directly on top of one another. It is possible and perhaps easier to achieve the same effect using a second slide for the second set of data, but I wanted to introduce the "EXIT" effects and show how to make things disappear.

Hofstee Plot

I use a lot of graphs for my teaching.....

Here is an animation that I use to explain standard setting and cut-off scores. I have taken more care over the formatting of the graph and added a few extra lines and bits of text, but this graph was made using exactly the same techniques as the demo graph.


Here is an animation from a lecture on ventilation and gas exchange where I contrast the oxygen binding curves for haemoglobin and myoglobin and to remind myself to point out the importance of these differences to cetaceans.