Crossfade animations in PowerPoint

If you have some understanding on adding crossfade effects or transition in videos, you will know that it is a pretty simple process. What about PowerPoint? Well, there are two common ways you can do so. The simplest way to achieve crossfade animations in PowerPoint is using the fade transition provided. First, insert an image on each slide. Next, go to the Transition tab and add Fade > Effect Options > Fade Smoothly. On Advance Slide, set it to a timing of your preference so that it will automatically advance to the next slide after a certain timing. Now click on Apply to All so that the entire presentation will crossfade. While this technique is simple, it has its limitation as well. Say if you want to have a set of images crossfading at the corner of a slide while you show your content, using the fade transition would meant that you are required to create multiple slides and that is certainly not what you would hope to achieve since you would have a hard time backtracking to the content.

Instead, you can make use of custom animation to do so. First, add all the images that you wish to crossfade on the current slide. Next, click on the image (A) that is on the top. Add Exit > Fade animation onto the image (A). Now, click on the image (B) right below the top image (A). Add an Entrance > Fade animation onto the image (B). Add an Exit > Fade animation onto the image (B). Now, repeat the same for rest of the images. Now, hold the Ctrl key, select all the Exit Fade animations and set it to Start After Previous. Next, hold Ctrl key again and select all Entrance Fade animations and set it to Start With Previous. Select all the added animations and set the delay to 1 second. This allows each image to stay hold for a while before transitioning to the next one. Lastly, align the images so that they are all in the same position. To do so, select all the images, go Picture Tools > Format, click Align > Align Center, then Align > Align Middle. Now, you will have a smooth crossfading animations in PowerPoint!

Download the sample here:
Crossfade Animations in PowerPoint

Swap Animation on PowerPoint

Swapping objects so that object A, which is initially on top of object B, will now be on the bottom after the animation. Natively, PowerPoint doesn’t have such feature to achieve this, though I believe the same applies to most animation tools out there. This however, can be achieved with a neat workaround. First, you have to understand that every shape, text, images and many more, are considered an individual object. If you use Photoshop, Flash or similar tools, think of each object being in their own layer, where they can be rearranged in orders. Objects can thus be sent to the back, bring forward and so on, so as to readjust their ordering. By know this concept, you will then be able to workaround and create a swap animation on PowerPoint.

To do so, you will need 3 objects. Object A, B and C, where C will be a duplicate of object B. Next, re-order the objects so that B will be on top, followed by A, then finally C. Then, add Disappear effect and set it to after previous on object C. This will allow you to hide it at the start. Next, add the same custom motion path on both object C and B such that it creates a swap motion (it should be in a loop). Set the object B to start on click while object C to start with previous. Add Disappear effect on object B, start on with previous and delay to 1 second. Do the same to object C, except with an Appear effect instead. This will allow object C (the duplicate) which is under object A to replace B during the animation. 

With further tweaks, you can also improvise the swap animation by having the animated objects shrink during the swap animation so as to apply a more 3 dimensional feel. Swap technique is also an useful animation where you can apply it to various situations. An example would be Orbital animation, which basically uses similar technique showing an animation of the moon orbiting around the earth. Take a look at the link below to see how Swap Animation technique works: Swap Animation PPT


PowerPoint Hybrid Formatting

PowerPoint comes with a set of ready made designs and templates that would usually cater to your need. This is what makes PowerPoint easy and friendly to use. With PowerPoint 2007 and newer versions, shapes, texts and smartarts now have more formatting sets (color, fonts, effects and etc) than you would ever get to use. However, there would be a time where you will be thinking of mixing these formatting to suit your need. Unfortunately, changing the design means reformatting the entire presentation slides, where all the shapes, texts and smartarts would be affected. 

There’s a way to achieve hybrid formatting. First, for those who are unaware of the design and formatting sets, open up PowerPoint, then click on the Design tab. Under Design, you will see various formatting such as Colors, Fonts, Effects, Background Styles and many more. These features are available to help you format your presentation without the need to edit them manually, such as assigning a particular color to all the shapes or a particular font to all the texts. In short, it makes thing much easier. A combination of these formattings allow you to create tons of variations to each presentation. Technically, with some tweaking, you could say that no two presentation will be the exact replica.

Now, in order to achieve hybrid formatting, open up a blank presentation. Next, create the object that you wish to have (e.g. text, shape, smartart, chart etc). Give it the formatting of your choice. Then, right click on it and select Copy. Go back to your initial presentation and paste the object onto a slide. You will see that the object changes to the formatting based on the initial presentation. To switch it back to the new formatting you have created, click on the ‘Paste Options’ icon beside the object and select ‘Keep Source Formatting’. You may also wish to save the new formatting by saving it as a presentation file for future use. The advantage of this hybrid formatting allows you to mix various preset designs made available in PowerPoint. However, do keep in mind that by doing so, these hybrid formatted objects will stick to their own formatting, thus they will remain unchanged when you attempt to change the design ‘globally’. 

What’s new in PowerPoint 2013?

Based on the consumer preview, below is roughly the list of new features you will expect to see. More detailed information will be up when it is officially release.

Better reorder feature selection pane 
Welcome back – where you left last editing.
Save as mp4 video!
Merge shapes
Better presenter view, show presenter view in slide show.
Slide sorter in slide show
Pin/unpin pane
Advanced editing and artistic effects on background image.
Crop to shape
Crop to aspect ratio
Crop to fill
Crop to fit
Reset picture and size
Right click > shortcut style, fill and outline for objects.

PowerPoint and Subtitle

No, not those subtitles or captions that appear on television. Rather, I am referring to the “Click to add subtitle” that you will see on the title slide when starting a new presentation. So what’s exactly the great deal about the subtitle? Seldom, we see a presentation that actually include a subtitle to the subtitle textbox (placeholder). At least that is what I have been seeing for the past few years. Subtitle however, does have the ability to send persuasive and meaningful message across the audience if utilized correctly. One way would be to make use of it across the entire presentation. In this situation, the title does the role of conveying what the presenter will be presenting, while the subtitle can act as a sub header much like those we see in reports. For instance, given a scenario where you are required to talk about suggestions for being an equal opportunity employer, your presentation contains a section covering 3 suggestions for Job Advertisement, Job Application Form, and Interview – one suggestion each. Subtitle can thus be used instead of bullet points.


In some cases, subtitles can also go beyond its role. Instead of simply indicating what you are presenting on, leverage on the potential of subtitle. For instance, you can invoke curiosity by having your subtitle in question form or a phrase to summarize the point you would like to convey. This not only helps bring in the attention of the audience, but also improves the flow of your presentation and keep it interesting.


Excel: Dynamic links and cell reference

An issue with Excel is that you are not able to generate links that can dynamically increase, say I want to collate the final mark of every student (e.g. 100 of them) from a list of spreadsheets that they have saved. One way to do this is to have them save according to their class index number. If the class size is 100, we will have 100 files named 1.xlsx to 100.xlsx. However, in order to collate the result, it will be tedious as you will have to open up manually and record their marks. You can create a new spreadsheet that collate all the results by referencing. For instance, on the new spreadsheet, type this in the cell A1: =’C:\Users\teacher\Desktop\excel\[1.xlsx]Sheet1′!$C$20 (where C20 represents the cell showing the total mark that a particular student has obtained).

Well, that would make life easy, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this is where you would get stuck with a static file path. Try dragging it and Excel will not increase the file number (e.g. from 1.xlsx to 2.xlsx) automatically for you. The workaround is slightly complicated but gets the work done easily. This requires the use 2 functions: CONCATENATE() and INDIRECT(). First, create a column starting from cell A1 with 1 to 100. This will be used as a file name reference. Next, you will have to separate the file name (which is 1 to 100) with the rest of the file path. In this case, we will use the CONCATENATE() function so that the file name in the file path is a standalone number (referencing column A as mentioned earlier on) which will increase automatically. Using the previous file path example =’C:\Users\teacher\Desktop\excel\[1.xlsx]Sheet1′!$C$20,  we will apply the CONCATENATE() function on cell B1 so that it appears as =CONCATENATE(“‘C:\Users\teacher\Desktop\excel\[“,A1,”.xlsx]Sheet1’!$C$20″). Once you are done, cell B1 should look like ‘C:\Users\teacher\Desktop\excel\[1.xlsx]Sheet1’!$A$1. Drag it all the way to 100 so that you should be able to see the paths update accordingly.

We are not done yet though. What shown on each cell has become a String due to the use of CONCATENATE() function. Meaning they are simply a combination of text which makes sense to us, but not Excel. Thus the mark referencing will not occur. To resolve this, you will need to make use of INDIRECT(), which is a very useful function. What INDIRECT() function does is it will take a text string and convert it to a proper reference, thus allowing the spreadsheet to reference the final mark of the students. To do so, add the INDIRECT() function to the existing code: =INDIRECT(CONCATENATE(“‘C:\Users\teacher\Desktop\excel\[“,A1,”.xlsx]Sheet1’!$C$20″)) and re-drag it again. Now, the final mark of the students should be collated easily. One thing to note however, is that reference error may occur. To resolve this, just open up all the files, then head back to the spreadsheet where the marks are collated.

Inception, in PowerPoint!

Have you watched the movie Inception? Well, if you had (or even if you hadn’t), here’s a Christmas gift in the form of PowerPoint! In this PowerPoint, a presentation is embedded within a presentation which is embedded in yet another presentation and it goes on. Don’t get it? Well, open up the presentation and go deeper into the presentation by clicking on the center of the slideshow till you reach the final state! You will see then see snow, greetings and.. Merry Christmas! Press ‘Esc’ to kick yourself out of each presentation. Have fun 🙂

For PowerPoint 2010: Download now
For PowerPoint 2007 and below: Download now 

Create timer with PowerPoint

If you need to perform a countdown or break timer during your presentation, PowerPoint does the job. In fact, there are many ready-made PowerPoint timers out on the web that you can easily access to and the methods of executing them range from the use of PowerPoint animations to VBA. Here’s another neat way you can try out if you are new to PowerPoint and want a quick and easy way to create a timer in PowerPoint.

In traditional timer using animations, editing the numbers manually can be cumbersome. Imagine you are going to do a 1 minute counter or break timer and you want to have the timer increment every second. You will eventually have to edit the number 59 times manually. So why not let PowerPoint does the job instead? To achieve this, you can use the Slide Number and Slide Transition.

1. First, enter the Slide Master (View > Slide Master). 
2. Enlarge the slide number on the main master itself.
3. Set it to a font size of approximately 90-100, then align it to center of the slide.  
4. Next, click on the Design > Page Setup and set to number slides from 0.
5. Now, close Slide Master. Change your first slide to a Title and Content Layout. (Right click > Layout > Title and Content)
6. Then click Insert > Slide Number. Check the Slide Number and click Apply to All. 
7. Go to the Transition tab (Animation tab for PowerPoint 2007), set it to Advance Slide Automatically After 1 second, which will be 00:01:00. 
8. Then simply duplicate the slides using Ctrl-D to increment the numbers automatically. 
9. You can also add a minute counter that keeps track of the time after every 60 seconds/slides.
10. Once you are done, go back to the first slide and uncheck Advance Slide Automatically After if you do not want it to start immediately.

Here’s an example of the PowerPoint Timer: Download Now

Golden Harvest animation on PowerPoint

For all Hong Kong movie lovers out there, remember Golden Harvest, the production company that produced martial arts films starring actors such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan? Well, you might not remember the company name, but you will definitely recognize its prominent opening animation!

Here’s a tribute of the Golden Harvest intro animation dedicated to all the HK movie lovers out there, done entirely using PowerPoint. Download the Golden Harvest animation now! Note that there might be slight animation issue if you are using PowerPoint 2010. In this case, you can view the animation on YouTube instead: