It looks like we have a PowerPoint slide full of unique stars.
You can dazzle your audience by making all these stars twinkle.

The article How to add a flashing star to a PowerPoint slide shows you a Microsoft PowerPoint technique that adds a single flashing star to a slide. One flashing star can be effective in those situations where less is more. Sometimes, however, you’ll want lots of flashing stars—think the red-carpet effect. Adding multiple flashing stars isn’t any more difficult than adding one and surprisingly, doesn’t take much time. In this article, I’ll show you how to add multiple flashing stars to a PowerPoint slide.

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I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system. I recommend that you wait to upgrade to Windows 11 until all the kinks are worked out. For your convenience, you can download the demonstration .pptx and .ppt files (although I can’t guarantee this will work in the .ppt format). The PowerPoint demonstration file also contains the demonstration slide from the linked article. You can play this presentation in PowerPoint for the web. Creating it would be a little difficult because there’s no Animations pane.

Flashing lights in a presentation can be a problem because some people are sensitive to moving or flashing images and lights. For some, it might even be worse, causing a seizure. For the most part, people with this sensitivity know about it and make their own arrangements. However, an up-front warning to a public audience is prudent. Beyond that, you might even forego the flashing lights, just to be safe.

The PowerPoint pieces you’ll need

The information that gets all the excitement can be text or graphic. I’m going to use text to keep things simple. Although you can’t get the full effect from Figure A, if you download the demonstration file you can run the show to see the full effect, which includes several stars of different shapes, sizes and flashing times.

Figure A

This PowerPoint slide has lots of flashing stars.
This PowerPoint slide has lots of flashing stars.

How to add the exciting event to a slide in PowerPoint

Using Figure A as a guide, add the text BIG NEWS to a PowerPoint slide with a black or dark background, so the stars show well. To format the background, right-click the background and choose Format Background from the resulting submenu.

Click the Shape Options tab if necessary, click the Solid Fill option, and then choose a dark color from the Color dropdown palette shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Add some exciting text and apply a dark color to the background.
Add some exciting text and apply a dark color to the background.

The font text is Broadway 96 pt. Feel free to use different text and text fonts if you like because doing so won’t affect the instructions. With the main event expressed in text, it’s time to add the flashing stars.

How to add stars to the slide in PowerPoint

The static content is ready. The next step is to start adding stars. Specifically, we’ll add several different shaped stars from the Shapes dropdown. We’ll resize them, change their color and position them in this section.

To add a star shape to the PowerPoint slide, do the following:

  1. Click the Insert tab and then click Shapes in the Illustrations group.
  2. From the Shapes dropdown, choose the 4-point star from the Stars and Banners section.
  3. Click and drag to insert the star into the PowerPoint slide. The size and position don’t matter right now.

Once you have a star shape in the slide, format it as follows:

  1. With the star selected, click the Shape Fill option in the Shape Styles group on the contextual Shape Format tab, and choose white from the resulting palette.
  2. From the Shape Outline dropdown, choose No Outline.
  3. From the Shape Effects dropdown, choose Glow and then choose one of the presets. I recommend a large glow. For the current star, choose a larger yellow, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Choose one of PowerPoint’s glow settings.
Choose one of PowerPoint’s glow settings.
  1. From Shape Effects, choose Soft and select one of the first options with the least softening.

These settings are subjective, and you might want to tweak your choices later if you want more diverse stars. The star in Figure D is one of the larger stars we’ll use.

Figure D

Create duplicates of each star shape.
Create duplicates of each star shape.

We’ll create duplicates of this star and make them smaller and position them all around the text. To create two duplicates (or more), hold down the Ctrl key and drag copies from the original. As you can see in Figure E, the duplicates are smaller than the original and I used the yellow shaping handle to create a fatter star and a thinner star. In this way, you can create two different stars from one.

Figure E

Copy the original star twice; change its size and density.
Copy the original star twice; change its size and density.

Now, add a new star shape from the Shapes gallery. It doesn’t matter which shape you choose—you’ll want to add many different shaped stars. Click one of the three stars in the first set and click Format Painter, then click the newly inserted star. Doing so saves you some formatting time. Remember, at this point, you might want to change the glow, soft or color attributes, but we won’t do so right now.

Figure F shows the PowerPoint slide with lots of stars.

Figure F

It looks like we have a PowerPoint slide full of unique stars.
It looks like we have a PowerPoint slide full of unique stars.

Most are copies that have been resized and/or reshaped a bit. At this point, you can experiment a bit with different glow colors and softness settings. The truth is, unless you’re displaying this PowerPoint slide on a large screen, the differences won’t be noticeable. If it all possible, you might want to work with this slide on the projection screen that you’ll be using. Doing so will help you focus on the star properties. If that’s not possible, you’ll just have to guess and hope for the best. Or leave all the settings as is. Here are a few simple guidelines that might help:

  • Larger stars look more realistic if you decrease their density (make them sharper or skinny). Smaller stars can be “fatter,” but you’ll want to reduce the density of most of the stars, even the smaller ones.
  • Remember that you can always use Ctrl+Z to undo something.
  • If there’s no yellow dot on the star shape, you can’t change its shape.
  • You can add more or fewer stars; it’s entirely up to you.

We have lots of stars now. The next step is to add the animation that makes them appear to flash, or twinkle.

How to animate star shapes in PowerPoint

You might think that animating so many stars will take a long time and be rather tedious, but that’s not so. We’re going to animate one star and then copy that animation to the others. Now, let’s animate the first star with entrance and exit timed animations:

  1. I recommend clicking the Animation Pane from the Advanced Animations group, but this isn’t strictly necessary. But it’s helpful to see what you’re doing as you work.
  2. Select any of the stars.
  3. Click the Animations tab.
  4. Click the Animations gallery’s More button (in the Animation group). Click More Entrance Effects.
  5. In the Entrance selection, click Grow & Turn.
  6. From the Add Animation dropdown (in the Advanced Animation group), click Shrink & Turn from the Exit section.

At this point, one star has two animations, as you can see in Figure G.

Figure G

Animate the stars using PowerPoint’s animations.
Animate the stars using PowerPoint’s animations.

Select both. Set the Start setting to After Previous. Next, change the Duration setting to .10—stars twinkle quickly—as shown in Figure H. If you want to see the animation, click the Play All button in the Animations pane.

Figure H

Set your stars to twinkle.
Set your stars to twinkle.

Remember when I said you wouldn’t have to animate all those stars individually? With one star animated, you can copy both animations to the others as follows:

  1. With the animated star selected, double-click Animation Painter in the Advanced Animations group. Doing so changes the cursor to a paint brush.
  2. Then, click all the remaining stars. You can select them in order or randomly, although randomly will save you a bit of time positioning the stars later.

If this doesn’t work for you, make sure you double-click Animation Painter. A single click will allow you to copy a shape’s animation to one shape only. You must double-click to copy to multiple shapes. When you’re done, click Animation Painter a second time to turn it off.

This feature is a bit slow, so if you click quickly, you might miss a few stars. Count the stars and make sure you have the appropriate number of animation sets (two for each star). If not, find the star(s) and repeat the formatting using Animation Painter. The PowerPoint demonstration file has 18 stars and 18 animation sets, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

Make sure each star is animated.
Make sure each star is animated.

With an animation selected in the Animation pane, press Ctrl + A to select them all and then click Play Selected. If you formatted them in order, you’ll see the stars flash in and out in order. If you selected them randomly, you’ll see a random bit of flashing. Also watch for stars that don’t disappear. This means that star doesn’t have an exit animation. Select it and fix the animation. Or delete it and copy a star—that might be quicker and easier.

You could leave the stars where they are, but even if the animations are already random, it’s not quite the look I was working toward. In addition, if you want to click the slide during the show to start the flashing stars, select the entrance animation for the first star and change it’s Start setting to On Click.

How to position the stars on the slide in PowerPoint

You’re almost done. By positioning the stars close to and on the edges of the letters, the text itself seems to be generating the twinkling stars. When you position a star on a letter, be sure to send some of them to the back and leave a bit of the star showing. That way some stars appear to be behind the letters and some in front. To send a star to the back, select it. Then, click the contextual Shape Format tab and then click Send Backward in the Arrange group. With a smaller screen, this won’t be obvious, but on a large screen, viewers will see the difference. In addition, if the stars and text are the same color, you don’t need to send any of the stars backward.

Now, drag the stars randomly about the letters. Remember, if you copied the animations in order, you’ll have to work a bit harder to get a random twinkling effect. Once you’ve positioned all the stars, play the show. If you have a copy of the demonstration file, the finished slide (Figure A) is first in the deck, so press F5 to start the show and then click the first slide if you changed the Start property to On Click. There’s no way to capture the full effect because all the stars flash one at a time.

This is the time to evaluate the full effect and decide if you want more or fewer stars. To copy a star, select it and hold Ctrl while you drag a copy from the original. Don’t make too many copies of the same star. In addition, if you decide that you don’t like the one-after-the-other flash effect, randomly select a few of the entrance animations and change After Previous to With Previous. Doing so will cause some stars to flash at the same time. You can also change the Delay setting to make some stars “twinkle” longer than others. In addition, you can change the glow and soften properties for some of your stars. The variations are up to you, and there’s a lot of room to explore.

I changed the glow for a few stars to orange and the Delay setting for all of the animations to .15. However, the truth is, you can barely notice the differences. As I mentioned earlier, don’t spend a lot of time tweaking these stars and the timings if you’re using a small screen during your PowerPoint presentation.

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