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Should Charts be Animated?

Learn about the pros and cons of animating charts.

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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint (all versions)

Charts are something that are often shared between Excel and PowerPoint - and while Excel gurus may look down at PowerPoint as far as charting is concerned, there indeed is one charting feature that is not doable as well in Excel – and that is animating charts. OK, an Excel guru somewhere may have said that it’s great that you cannot animate charts in Excel - after all many PowerPoint users do create a mess with animation anyway!

Well, do I agree with that statement? The answer is both Yes and No.

Yes, charts in PowerPoint should be animated if the movement adds some value to your chart. And how can we define “value” here? Let’s explore more with an example.

Maybe you have figures lined up for 4 years as 4 columns in a chart. It can help if the columns for the previous 3 years are not animated. Then you (or the presenter) discusses the present year's figures - and then entry-animates the column representing the current year using a simple wipe animation.

Do note that when I mentioned the "wipe" animation in the previous paragraph, that was a very significant message! The animation effect you choose for a chart must be subtle and simple - the intention here is to add animation to add value, and not to add distraction. Wipe is a subtle animation, and a wipe animation that progresses from bottom to top can be especially effective with column charts. Other animation effects such as fade and Float Up / Ascend can also work - but please do stay away from spinning pie charts or bouncing columns!

Should Charts be Animated?

Remember that in chart animation, the build and sequencing is much more important than the animation. Animation is just a way to bring in build and sequencing.


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