Microsoft Office 365 PowerPoint
Image: dennizn/Adobe Stock

Nothing points the way like an arrow, does it? They point to exits, special exhibits, the checkout line and so much more. They are everywhere, but maybe underused in Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Using an arrow that moves, you can pull the focus from one point to another with a simple 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 for this PowerPoint tutorial.

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I’m using 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 morph in PowerPoint?

PowerPoint’s morph transition offers a way to represent movement across slides by changing one shape or position into another. You combine options to move, resize, rotate or change the color of an element all at once by morphing one slide into another. Its ease of use does come at a cost: You can’t manipulate what PowerPoint does in-between the two slides. You don’t have complete control, but most of the time that won’t matter.

All morphs have two things in common:

  • The beginning slide, which will display the element before any changes.
  • An ending slide, which will display the finished element after morphing.

Morphing is easy because you will build all morph transitions the same way — there’s little to no guesswork. First, you create the beginning slide, the one that displays the original element. You duplicate that slide and change the duplicate in some way. Finally, you select both slides and apply the morph transition. It really is easy considering the results.

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

How to setup the first slide in PowerPoint

To begin, create the first slide. Figure A shows a simple slide with an arrow pointing to the top of the slide and three text boxes to the right. To insert the arrow, do the following:

  1. Display a blank slide.
  2. Click Insert and then click the Shapes dropdown in the Illustrations group.
  3. Select an arrow from the Block 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 toward the top of the slide.

Figure A

Insert an arrow and three text boxes.

To insert a text box, do the following:

  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 down a bit to the center of the slide. Repeat this step to drag a third text box to the bottom of the slide. You can then alter the text for the second and third text boxes to Two and Three, respectively.

With the beginning slide in place, it’s time to work on the first morph — moving the arrow so it points to Point One.

How to morph movement in PowerPoint

Once you have the beginning slide in place, duplicate it. Simply right-click it and choose Duplicate Slide from the submenu. Select the duplicate and using the arrow’s rotation handle, move the arrow until it points at Point One as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Move the arrow using its rotation handle.

Now you have two slides — one points to the top of the slide and the second points to Point One. Let’s morph them as follows:

  1. Select both slides, selecting the beginning slide first as shown in Figure C. To do so, hold down the Ctrl key, click the first slide and then click the second.
  2. Click 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 gallery’s More button, and look for Morph in the Subtle section.

Figure C

Select the beginning slide first.

To see the result, click the first side and then press F5 or click Slide Show on the Status Bar. I can’t show the effect in a figure, but when you click the slide, PowerPoint will point the arrow at Point One. You won’t see a shift from the first to the second slide. You’ll see only the arrow move.

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

  1. Duplicate slide 2.
  2. In slide 3, move the arrow from Point One to Point Two, using the arrow’s rotation handle.
  3. Select slides 2 and 3 and click Morph.
  4. Duplicate slide 3.
  5. In slide 4, move the arrow from Point Two to Point Three.
  6. Select slides 3 and 4 and click Morph.

At this point, you’re done. Run the show and click to watch as the arrow moves to Point One, Point Two, and then Point Three.

It’s an attention getter considering how little effort it takes to implement. When applying this to your own presentations, you’ll want to apply specific formatting, which we didn’t do to keep things simple.