Bullet focusing in PowerPoint

I was trying to ask this question on Twitter, but that didn’t seem to work out well – many people use different approaches for something vaguely similar to what I’m asking, and it seems impossible to explain the details in 140 chars.


Solution at the bottom now.


I want my PowerPoint presentations that have slides with bullets to work in a particular fashion. Say I have three bullets:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three

When the slide comes up first, I want it to appear showing these three bullets. Some people bring up their slides with no bullets at all, or with just the first one showing, but I don’t think that’s good. So, step 1: all bullets showing, default state.

Now I “forward” my deck (I use a remote for that, but whatever). I want the first bullet to be focused somehow, for instance by making it a different color:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three

The next time I forward, I want the first item to “de-focus” and the next one to be focused:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three

Finally, next forward:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three

Now, this all seems like a really simple thing – but it quite hard to set up in PowerPoint. PowerPoint has clever features (summarized as “Text Animations”, I believe) that you can apply to a TextBox, which animate each bullet on its own (with configurable paragraph levels). Cool. BUT – the animations you can apply are actually rather stupid.

For example, I can use the “Font Color” animation type to make the font red, and with Text Animations I only need to apply it once. So far, so good, but the focus is never automatically reversed. So the result will be this:

Step 1:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three

Step 2:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three

Step 3:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three

I know I can get exactly what I want, by setting everything up manually. I can select each bullet in sequence and construct a sequence of animation steps:

  1. Make bullet One red
  2. On next click, make bullet One black again
  3. At the same time, make bullet Two red
  4. On the next click, make bullet Two black again
  5. At the same time, make bullet Three red

Obviously, this is quite a pain to create and even worse to maintain. I’m confused – is there really no PowerPoint feature that can do this obvious thing automatically? Any hints?


Okay, here’s the solution – found it myself, as usual just after posting this.

There’s an option on the Effect Options page in the settings for the animation, titled “After animation”. Contrary to what you might expect, the setting made here (defaults to “Don’t dim” for added confusion) is not applied after the animation – instead it is applied before the next animation! Who would have thought! Oh well, I’m sure they’ll fix it in the next version 🙂

So, with the help of this setting I can do what I want (in my case I select the color Black to revert to), and it works automatically. Great – if only they didn’t hide it away like that!

Have fun, and thanks to everybody who tried to help!

2 Comments on Bullet focusing in PowerPoint

  1. I can’t work out how to do it with colour in a way that leaves the item highlighted until you advance to the next bullet, but by setting “auto reverse” it does at least “flash” the bullet you moved to. However, I *have* managed to get something to work nicely using bold text, and recorded an example to demonstrate: http://screencast.com/t/Xs4PNYzB

    Like

  2. Lasse Vågsæther Karlsen // July 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm // Reply

    Depending on how my Norwegian PowerPoint would translate, I believe there’s another way as well. There’s a setting in the “Options for effect” setting, on the “Timeline” tab (second tab in my dialog), that has an option for “Last until”, it defaulted to “End of slide”, but I could set it to “Next click”, which means it’ll remove the effect when I click.

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