Circle an object during a PowerPoint slide show for emphasis

Learn how to draw a big red line around important text for emphasis on a PowerPoint slide.

If you're like me, you're always on the lookout for interesting ways to draw attention to a specific point or object in a slide. When a bold rubber stamp type emphasis is needed, you might try drawing a circle around the object or text—right before the audience's eyes. It's easy and it certainly gets the job done.

First, you need an object or text—something you want emphasized! Remember, this is a rather loud effect, so the message should be equally as bold. (The yellow is just the selection color.)

The next step is to draw a circular AutoShape over the object by clicking Oval on the Drawing toolbar and dragging inside the slide. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, AutoShape is on the Home tab in the Drawing group. Hold down the [Shift] key when you insert the AutoShape to force PowerPoint to draw a circle rather than an oval.

The default AutoShape will require a little formatting, so right-click the circle and choose Format AutoShape (or Format Shape) from the context menu. On the Colors and Lines tab, set the settings that follow and click OK. (In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, select Fill, Line Color, and Line Style from the list on the left.)

  • Fill Color: No Fill
  • Line Color: Red, or some other bold color
  • Line Weight: 2 pt or higher.

After formatting the circle, you'll probably need to move it around a bit. The text in the circle below is centered.

Now you're ready to add the animation that will actually draw the circle. There are several ways to go, but the following instructions will draw the circle in a single stroke automatically (no clicking required):

  1. Right-click the circle and choose Custom Animation.
  2. From the Add Effect dropdown, choose Entrance.
  3. Select Wheel—click More Effects if Wheel isn't available from the short list. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click the Animation tab and choose Wheel from the Animation group.
  4. From the Start dropdown, choose With Previous.
  5. From the Spokes dropdown, choose 1. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click the Effect Options dropdown in the Animation group.

This simple but effective attention-getter took almost no work! To see the result, click [F5]. There's no red circle at first, but as soon as PowerPoint plays the slide, it starts to draw the circle from the top center.

Feel free to experiment with the settings. The Spokes setting determines the number of line segments drawn simultaneously. Depending on your audience and message, you might want to speed this one up a bit—even Very Fast probably isn't too fast for this specific example.

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About Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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