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Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2007, 2003, and 2002 for Windows

Learn about open and closed paths for Motion Path animations in PowerPoint 2007, 2003 and 2002 for Windows.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2007, 2003, and 2002 for Windows

OS: Windows XP and higher

Much of what you can do with motion path animations in PowerPoint relates to what you can do with the motion paths themselves. And the motion paths are essentially just ordinary paths (or lines) that have curves, points, etc. If you are familiar with drawing in PowerPoint, or if you use a graphic illustration program like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW, you know that paths can be either open or closed.

A circle is a good example of a closed path, whereas a curve is an open path. Look at Figures 1 and 2 to view some samples of open and closed paths.

Closed Paths
Figure 1: Closed Paths

Open Paths
Figure 2: Open Paths

So how is the concept of open and closed paths relevant to motion path animations in PowerPoint?

This may not be terribly obvious but any animation that plays on a closed motion path gets back to the original starting point of the animation. Thus the starting and ending points of such an animation are the same.

On the other hand, animations that play on open motion paths have distinctly different starting and closing points. Examples of these are animations that play on a line or curve path from one part of the slide to another.

If you know how to edit points in paths using PowerPoint's capable drawing tools, you can easily convert open paths to closed, and vice-versa. Even if you are not too familiar with the drawing tools, you can quickly convert an open path to a closed one, or the other way around using the options that we explain next.

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Create a new presentation with a blank slide. Add two squares or any other shapes, and add motion path animations to both of them. For the first shape, add a closed motion path such as a Pentagon; for the second shape add an open shape such as an S Curve. Alternatively, just download this sample presentation. Play the presentation, and observe the animations. Press Esc to get back to slide editing mode.
  2. Now make sure that the Custom Animation Task Pane is visible as shown in Figure 3. If this Task Pane is not visible, you won't be able to see or select motion paths.

    For PowerPoint 2007 users, make sure that the shape is still selected, then activate the Animations tab of the Ribbon. Next, click the Custom Animation button to bring up a Task Pane of the same name that you can see in Figure 3. Remember, this is a toggle option: click once to show the Custom Animation Task Pane, and click again to hide it!

    Users of earlier PowerPoint versions can again make sure that the shape is selected. Then they should choose Slide Show | Custom Animation to access a similar Task Pane (see Figure 3).

    Custom Animation Task Pane
    Figure 3: Custom Animation Task Pane
  3. Now observe both the motion paths on the slide. You'll notice that the pentagon animation only has a green arrow head, whereas the S curve animation has both red and green arrow heads (see Figure 4). This is PowerPoint's way of telling you that one of these is a closed motion path, and the other is an open one. Closed motion paths show only one green arrow head, whereas open motion paths show both red and green arrow heads.

    Arrows in Motion Path
    Figure 4: Arrows in Motion Path
  4. Select the shape that has the pentagon animation, and then select the actual pentagon motion path. Now right-click and choose the Open Path option (see Figure 5). The immediate result of choosing this option is that you will now see both red and green arrow heads in this motion path (see Figure 6).

    Open Path option
    Figure 5: Open Path option

    Red and Green arrows heads
    Figure 6: Red and Green arrows heads
  5. You can now right-click the motion path again, and choose the Edit Points option (refer to Figure 5). You'll immediately see vertexes on the path, as shown in Figure 7. You can now select any of these vertex points and drag them around to create something that does not resemble a pentagon anymore! We'll cover the editing of these vertex points in more detail in a future tutorial.

    Figure 7: Vertex
  6. Now select the other shape on the slide, and then select its S Curve motion path, as shown in Figure 8. Right-click and choose the Close path option (see Figure 9).

    S Curve Motion Path
    Figure 8: S Curve Motion Path

    Close Path option
    Figure 9: Close Path option
  7. This will result in a segment being added to your motion path that connects the closing point back to the start point, as shown in Figure 10. If you could see two arrow heads earlier, you'll see only one now.

    One Arrowhead
    Figure 10: One Arrowhead
  8. If you don't fancy the straight line that PowerPoint adds to close the path, you can right-click the motion path and choose the Edit Points option. Thereafter click anywhere in the line segment (make sure you don't click a vertex point), and drag it down or up to create a curve from the line -- this looks more smoother and organic than a straight line (compare Figure 10 to Figure 11).

    Curved Line
    Figure 11: Curved Line
Note: As you can see, there's no limit to what you can do with the motion paths as long as you open and close paths, and edit points within the path. Combine this with the option to draw your own custom motion paths, and reversing them -- and the possibilities are almost endless!

Warning: Do some motion paths have the Open Path, Close Path, or Edit Points options grayed out? Yes, that can happen with paths that are essentially straight lines (see Figure 12). Also any motion paths that you draw with the line drawing options under the Draw Custom Path flyout will have these options grayed out.

Grayed Out Options
Figure 12: Grayed Out Options

See Also:

Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Open and Closed Paths in Motion Path Animations in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

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