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Moving Elements in PowerPoint

Thursday, July 16th, 2009 by | Filed Under: MS PowerPoint

Move what you ask?

Good question. Specifically I’m talking about creating MS PowerPoint presentations with moving elements.

No, I don’t mean the zooms, shifts, rotations or whatever that you use for element entrances and exits.

I’m actually talking about Motion Paths… you know, that choice below Entrance, Emphasis and Exit on the list of custom animations?


Have you ever investigated that one?

I’ve found that not many people do but once you see what it can do it just may turn into something that you find pretty useful.

Recently I did an entire course worth of content in PowerPoint presentations and once I started to work with the Motion Path options things became much more interesting. It’s not that I used them just for entertainment; they were used to rearrange and emphasize essential elements of my presentation.

So, let’s take a look at what’s available to help you “move it” in PowerPoint.

Obviously, you’ll need to decide upon something that you want to move on the slide… a shape, picture, text box…

Next we need to get to PowerPoint’s Custom Animation pane.


  • For people with older versions of PowerPoint use the Slide Show menu, Custom Animation choice.
  • PowerPoint 2007 users must navigate to the Animations tab of the Ribbon then click the Custom Animations button.

Once the Custom Animation pane is open you need to select the element you’re moving.

At this point the top of the pane will have a button to Add Effect activated. Click it.

You’ll get the list of animation types as shown above. Choose Motion Paths.

Initially the list contains pretty much straight lines choose one of those or move on to Draw Custom Path you will again be presented with a list of choices.


Or, if you choose More Motions Paths you will get a dialog box containing a multitude of shapes you can choose from.


Once you choose or draw a motion path you’ll find that it is basically a line / shape with a green arrow and a red arrow.


The green arrow is where the element will start then following the line it will stop where the red arrow is located.

You can move, rotate and basically reshape any of the paths just like you would any shape you might draw in the presentation.

Click the Play button at the bottom of the Custom Animation pane to preview your animations while still in the Normal View.

To get the basics of this one you really need to get in there and use good old fashion trial and error. That’s how I got the hang of it.

It goes without saying that you won’t want to move everything on every slide… you might make your audience a little dizzy as well as distracted… but, I found that it was an excellent tool for slide transition time to move and keep a particular element for display in the next slide while making room for new things. Well, and to be honest, sometimes it’s just great entertainment to keep them interested… like when I used the bounce animation above to get my point across when discussing bouncing checks.

Anyway, give it a try – once you start to use it you’ll find all kinds of uses and then you too can “move it”!

~ April

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