How to Create a Moving Arrow in Microsoft PowerPoint

Use a pointing arrow in your Microsoft PowerPoint presentation to gently drag eyes from point to point.

Image: dennizn/Adobe Stock

Nothing points the way like an arrow, does it? They indicate exits, special exhibitions, the queue and much more. They are everywhere, but perhaps underutilized in Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Using a moving arrow, you can drag focus from point to point with a single click. It’s a subtle motion, but the intent is clear and it works.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use PowerPoint‘s Morph feature to point an arrow at three different text points. You can download the demo file of this PowerPoint tutorial.

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I use Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system. The Morph feature is available through PowerPoint 2019, PowerPoint for the web, iPad and iPhone, and Android tablets and phones.

What is morphing in PowerPoint?

PowerPoint’s morph transition provides a way to represent movement between slides by changing one shape or position to another. You combine options to move, resize, rotate, or change the color of an item all at once by transforming one slide into another. Its ease of use comes at a cost: you can’t manipulate what PowerPoint is doing between the two slides. You don’t have full control, but most of the time that won’t matter.

All morphs have two things in common:

  • The start slide, which will show the item before any changes.
  • An end slide, which will show the finished item after morphing.

Morphing is easy because you’ll build all morph transitions the same way – there’s little to no guesswork. First, you create the start slide, the one that displays the original item. You duplicate this slide and modify the duplicate in some way. Finally, you select both slides and apply the morph transition. It’s really easy considering the results.

Now that you understand the basics of the Morph function, let’s use it to create an arrow that moves.

How to set up the first slide in PowerPoint

To begin, create the first slide. Figure A shows a simple slide with an arrow pointing up the slide and three text boxes to the right. To insert the arrow, follow these steps:

  1. Display a blank slide.
  2. Click Insert, then click the Shapes dropdown menu in the Illustrations group.
  3. Select an arrow from the Blocked Arrows section.
  4. Drag inside the slide to create the arrow.
  5. Use Figure A as a guide to use the rotation handle to point the arrow to the top of the slide.

Figure A

Insert an arrow and three text boxes.

To insert a text box, follow these steps:

  1. On the Insert tab, click Text Box in the Text group.
  2. Drag to position the box, using Figure A as a guide, and enter Point One.

With the text box still selected, hold down the Ctrl key and drag a second box a bit towards the center of the slide. Repeat this step to drag a third text box down the slide. You can then change the text in the second and third text boxes to Two and Three, respectively.

With the start slide in place, it’s time to work on the first shape – moving the arrow to point to point one.

How to Transform Motion in PowerPoint

Once you have the start slide in place, duplicate it. Just right-click on it and choose Duplicate Slide from the submenu. Select the duplicate and using the arrow rotation handle, move the arrow until it points to point one as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Move the arrow using its rotation handle.

You now have two slides – one points to the top of the slide and the second points to point one. Let’s transform them as follows:

  1. Select both slides, selecting the start slide first, as shown in Figure C. To do this, hold down the Ctrl key, click on the first slide, then click on the second.
  2. Click on the Transitions tab.
  3. Click Morph in the transitions gallery in the Transitions to This Slide group. If you don’t see it, click the More button in the gallery and look for Morph in the Subtle section.

Figure C

First select the start slide.

To see the result, click on the first side, then press F5 or click Slideshow in the status bar. I can’t show the effect in a figure, but when you click on the slide, PowerPoint points the arrow to Point One. You won’t see a shift from the first to the second slide. You will only see the arrow move.

Now that you know how to transform the two arrow slides, you can easily complete the effect as follows:

  1. Copy slide 2.
  2. In slide 3, move the arrow from point one to point two using the arrow rotation handle.
  3. Select slides 2 and 3 and click Morph.
  4. Copy slide 3.
  5. On slide 4, move the arrow from point two to point three.
  6. Select slides 3 and 4 and click Morph.

At this point, you are done. Run the show and click to watch the arrow move to point one, point two, then point three.

It is an object that attracts attention considering the little effort it takes to implement. When you apply this to your own presentations, you’ll want to apply specific formatting, which we haven’t done to make things simpler.