Highlight Text on a PowerPoint Slide Using Emphasis Animation Effects

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated May 17, 2020

Applies to: Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

If you want to focus attention on a key point on a PowerPoint slide, you may want to highlight text. One way to do this is to use emphasis animation effects. You can use this type of animation to change the color of text, apply a fill to the shape containing the text or even have the text grow or shrink. Many of the emphasis effects change colors but keep in mind that some audience members may not be able to see specific colors so it’s a good idea to combine color emphasis with some other text effect like bold.

Recommended article: How to Reduce the Size of PowerPoint Files (10 Ways to Compress Your PowerPoint Decks)

Applying an emphasis animation to highlight text

You can apply emphasis animations to text boxes or placeholders in PowerPoint. If you want to highlight text, common emphasis animations are Font Color or Brush Color. Emphasis animations are enabled only for the type of object you select. For example, you can only apply Font Color to a text object.

To apply an emphasis animation to a text box or placeholder

  1. Click in the text box or placeholder you want to animate.
  2. Click the Animations tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Animations group, click the More down arrow on the bottom right of the Animations gallery.
  4. Click an emphasis animation in the Emphasis group.
  5. If you would like to select an emphasis effect that does not appear in the Emphasis group, click More Emphasis Effects at the bottom of the gallery. A dialog box appears.
  6. Click the emphasis effect you want to apply.
  7. Click OK.

You can also apply an emphasis animation by clicking Add Animation on the Animations tab in the Advanced Animation group.

The Change Emphasis Effect dialog box includes several other emphasis animations (some are only available in specific versions and for certain types of objects):

Emphasis animation dialog box in PowerPoint to highlight text.

The most common animations that will change the color of text are:

  • Font Color
  • Brush Color
  • Complementary Color
  • Complementary Color 2
  • Darken
  • Lighten
  • Desaturate

If you use Object Color, the color of the object or shape containing the text will change. If you use Line Color, the color of the line around the object or shape containing the text will change. You can also use Underline to apply an underline animation effect.

Previewing animation effects

After you add an animation effect, you can click the Preview or Play button on the Animations tab in the Ribbon to preview it. You can also preview animations by running a slide show (click the Slide Show button on the bottom right of your screen). By default, animations are set to play on click.

Setting Effect Options

You can also set different Effect Options for emphasis animations. Effect Options change depending on the animation effect you selected. For example, if you selected the Font Color emphasis effect, options would include different colors.

To set an effect option for an emphasis animation effect for a text object:

  1. Click in the text box or placeholder you want to animate. You can also click its edge. We’ll assume here that there is one animation applied to the object.
  2. Click the Animations tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Effect Options. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click an option.

The following Effect Options appear for the Font Color emphasis animation:

Effect options for the Font Color highlight in PowerPoint.

Controlling the way an animation starts

Although animations are set by default to start on click, you can start them in other ways.

To control the way a text animation starts:

  1. Click in the text box or placeholder you want to animate. You can also click its edge. We’ll assume here that there is one animation applied to the object.
  2. Click the Animations tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Animations group, select an option from the Start drop-down menu in the Timing group. You can select On Click, With Previous or After Previous. With Previous or After Previous will run based on a previous animation.

Note the Start setting is set by default to On Click:

PowerPoint animation start settings for animation.

Setting the speed or duration of an animation

When you apply an animation, a duration or speed is automatically set for the animation (in seconds). The default duration is different for each animation effect. The initial duration is often fast and you may want to increase the duration to slow it down.

To set a speed or duration of a text animation:

  1. Click in the text box or placeholder you want to animate. You can also click its edge. We’ll assume here that there is one animation applied to the object.
  2. Click the Animations tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Animations group, enter a time for the animation in Duration area inf the Timing group. You can click the up and down arrows to change the duration or type a duration.

Note the Duration in the example below:

PowerPoint animation timings for animations in PowerPoint.

Removing an animation

To remove animations from one or more objects on a slide:

  1. Select an object. For text objects, click the edge of the text box or placeholder or click in it.
  2. Shift-click any other objects with animations you want to remove.
  3. Click the Animations tab in the Ribbon.
  4. In the Animations group, click None in the Animations gallery.

Emphasis animations are one way to highlight text in PowerPoint. Check out the article How to Highlight Text in PowerPoint (5 Ways) for other strategies for highlighting text.

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If you want to focus attention on a key point on a PowerPoint slide, you may want to highlight text. One way to do this is to use emphasis animation effects. You can use this type of animation to change the color of text, apply a fill to the shape containing the text or even have the text grow or shrink.
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