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Animate Charts in PowerPoint

Monday, November 30th, 2009 by | Filed Under: MS PowerPoint

Have you ever had a chart in a PowerPoint presentation and wondered if it could be animated?

I’m sure you have and if that’s what you needed you simply applied the animation of your choice, watched the whole chart enter at once and didn’t think about it again.

But, I must ask, did you ever wish that you could animate the chart elements (bars, lines, pie pieces, etc…) in a bit more detail?

Let’s face it, the entire chart appearing may work for many presentations but sometimes it’s just more effective to have things enter separately (or grouped) in a certain order.

So, with our goal in mind, let’s take a look at the mechanics of animating a chart in detail.

First, you’ll need a chart inserted into a slide… maybe something like this one:


Before we start the animation process we need to display the Custom Animations pane.

  • Older versions of PowerPoint: View menu, Task Pane choice (if your Task Pane isn’t currently displayed). Then you should click the down arrow in the title bar of the Task Pane and choose Custom Animation.
  • PowerPoint 2007: Animations tab of the Ribbon, click the Custom Animations button.

With the pane displayed we’re ready to really get started.

Begin by selecting the chart.

Next you’ll need to animate it. In the Custom Animations pane find and click the Add Effect button then proceed as usual. (Basically, choose a category of animation and then a specific one to apply.)

Once an animation has been applied to the chart you should find that it animates the entire chart as one object… exactly the problem we’re trying to get around… so let’s keep going.

In the Custom Animation pane you’ll see the entry we just created when we animated the chart. Click the down arrow and choose Effect Options.


Once in the Effect Options dialog box you need the Chart Animation tab.


At the top you’ll find a drop-down list of grouping options for the animation. Different types of charts may have different choices but they’re all using the usual chart terms so you should be able to figure it out pretty quickly.

Choose a grouping option and click OK. (You can also make other changes to the animation’s behavior such as timing, dimming and all the usual stuff, before clicking OK.)

When you return to the program window and look at the Custom Animation pane you’ll see that the entry for the chart now looks different.


Click the down chevron to expand the animation list. When you told PowerPoint to animate in a different way it created a separate animation for each group.

At this point you can set them as you wish. One right after the other, each caused by a click, type of animation, direction… whatever you usually change you can change here too.

The real point is that you’ve got the animation down to the “details” and sometimes that can be the most effective way to present your data.


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