How to use the Grow/Shrink animation to highlight one point at a time in PowerPoint


Drawing attention to individual talking points in a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation is easy with this simple Grow/Shrink animation.

Keeping your audience engaged is hard work, but your Microsoft PowerPoint presentation can complement your style in many ways. One way is to highlight the current talking point, and there are many ways to do this; however, one of the easiest is to use the Grow/Shrink animation. All points start out the same size. When discussing a point, it grows, becoming larger and drawing the attention of your viewers to that point. When you move on to the next point, the previous point shrinks while the new point grows, immediately drawing your audience’s attention to the new point. In this article, I’ll show you how to implement this affective animation that requires very little setup or specialized knowledge.

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I’m using Microsoft 365, but you can use older versions. For your convenience, you can download the demonstration .pptx file. They contain a slide of all the timing setups you’ll work though, so you might want to hide slides as you advance to the next setup to avoid having to click though them. You can’t create the same timing in the browser, but the browser runs the completed animation. This article assumes you have basic PowerPoint skills, but the instructions are comprehensive.

How to add the bullet points in PowerPoint

You’ll need a few text bullet points, similar to those shown in Figure A. If you know how to do this, you can skip this section. Otherwise, do the following:

  1. Click the Insert tab, click Text Box in the Text group, and then click and drag a bit to insert a simple text box. Don’t worry too much about size and position yet.
  2. Before entering text, click the Home tab and then click Bullets in the Paragraph group.
  3. Enter the three lines of bulleted text.
  4. Once you have the list, center it between all four margins and increase the font size a bit. I’m using Calibri 40.

Figure A

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How to apply the animation in PowerPoint

That plain set of bullet points is pretty boring, isn’t it? Let’s add the Grow/Shrink animation twice—once to grow and once to shrink—to all three bullet points. Fortunately, it’s easy:

  1. Select all the bullet points and click the Animations tab.
  2. Click the Add Animation dropdown in the Advanced Animation group and choose Grow/Shrink from the Emphasis section. If it isn’t there, click More Emphasis Effects at the bottom. PowerPoint will give you a quick preview of how the animation will look.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2. I know that sounds odd, but we’re going to change some of the settings in the next section.
  4. Right now, we have three bullet points and two sets of the default Grow/Shrink effect, as you can see in Figure B. The default setting is to grow the text by 150%. If you were to run the animations right now, all three bullet points would grow by 150% and then those enlarged points would then increase by 150%. (If the Animation Pane isn’t visible, click the option in the Advanced Animation group.)

Figure B

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We want to see something a bit different, don’t we? We want to see the first item shrink while the second item grows. That requires a bit of rearranging. We need to move the shrink items, so they immediately follow their grow counterpart. To do so, simply drag the three lower items up to their respective spots. Use the red line that appears to help position the items correctly. The item being moved will slide in under that red line and before the next item. Use Figure D as a guide.

Figure D

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With all our items now in the correct sequence, grow, shrink; grow, shrink; grow, shrink, we’re just a simple step away from completion. But we’re going to take a detour, so you can see how a simple setting can change the effect.

First, let’s see how things work when all start settings are On Click. To do so, select all six items and choose On Click from the Start setting in the Timing group (on the Animation tab). When you run the show it takes six clicks, but as is, those clicks have purpose because they give you the most control. By clicking, you control when each item grows and when it shrinks.

Second, set all of the shrink items (2, 4, and 6) to After Previous. The animation is similar and requires fewer clicks, but you might need to slow down the After Previous setting to match the discussion.

Let’s try a different timing arrangement. Can you figure out on your own now, how to get the next item to grow while shrinking the previous? I’ll give you a bit of help. Click one grows the first item. You want the second click to display item 2 and shrink the first. Using Figure E as a guide, set the timing arrangements for each item as follows: Click, Click, After Previous, Click, After Previous, Click.

Figure E

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