Animate Specific Parts of a PowerPoint Chart

The default setting for animation of a Microsoft Office 365 PowerPoint chart is to apply the animation to the whole chart. In that scenario, the chart moves all at once, with no specific focus on anything in particular. However, you can show different aspects of the chart separately by applying animations to individual elements within a single chart.

This article assumes you are using a column chart, but other types of charts work similarly. If you don't already have a column chart, you can make one by opening a data file in Excel and selecting Insert > Chart > Column in PowerPoint.

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Open the PowerPoint animation pane

Open the PowerPoint animation pane
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To make changes to the default setting, it is necessary to open the animation pane.

  1. Open a PowerPoint presentation that contains a column chart.
  2. Click the chart to select it.
  3. Click the Animations tab of the ribbon.
  4. Look to the right side of the ribbon and click the Animation Pane button.
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Animation effect options

Open the Effect Options for the animated chart
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Look for your chart in the animation pane. If your chart isn't listed there: 

  1. Select the slide by clicking it.
  2. Click one of the entry animation options in the first group at the top of the screen, such as Appear or Dissolve In.
  3. Click the chart listing in the Animation Pane to activate the Effect Options button on the ribbon.
  4. Select one of the five options in the dropdown menu of the Effect Options button.

There are five options for animating a PowerPoint chart. The Effect Options in the dropdown menu are:

  • As One Object is the default setting. This treats the chart as a single item.
  • By Series animates the chart using the legend that is positioned at the bottom of the chart.  
  • By Category uses the information shown along the X axis. This information has headings along the bottom of the chart.
  • By Element in Series. In the example of a column chart, the corresponding column in the chart for each topic heading listed in the legend animates one after the other. Following that, the next topic heading column in the legend animates one after another, and so on until all legend topics have been animated in the chart.
  • By Element in Category. The corresponding chart column for each topic heading listed as a category shown along the bottom of the chart displays before going on to the next category heading column.

You may need to experiment to decide which method works best with your chart.

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Activate your animation option

Choose a method of animation for the PowerPoint chart
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After you select an animation, you need to adjust the timing of the individual steps of the animation:

  1. Click the arrow next to the chart listing in the animation pane to view the individual steps of the animation option you chose.
  2. Open the Timing tab at the bottom of the animation pane.
  3. Click each step of the animation in the animation pane and select a Delay time for each step.

Now click the Preview button to see your animation. Adjust the time of each animation step in the Timing tab to adjust the animation speed, making faster or slowing it down.

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Animate the PowerPoint chart background—or not

Choose whether to animate the PowerPoint chart background
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On the animation pane, above the individual steps of the animation, is a listing for Background. In the case of a column chart, the background consists of the X and Y axes, and their labels, the title, and legend of the chart. Depending on the type of audience you are presenting to, you may choose not to animate the background of the chart, especially if there are other animations on other slides.

By default, the option for the background to be animated is already selected and you can apply the same time or a different time for the appearance of the background.

Removing background animation

  1. Click Background in the animation pane list of steps.
  2. Click Chart Animations.
  3. Remove the check mark in front of Start Animation by drawing the chart background.

Background is no longer listed separately in the steps of the animation, but it will appear without animation.