Animate a chart or table

You may find it useful to animate the elements of a chart or table. For example, you may want to discuss sales of one product throughout all the quarters of the year before going on to the next product. Or you may want to explain a table row by row.

To add animation to charts, follow these steps:

  1. You can add animation to charts. Bar charts look good with a wipe up or wipe right effect.
  2. Choose Slide Show> Custom Animation (in 2007, Animations tab> Custom Animation).
  3. Select the chart and add animation as usual, by choosing Add Effect> Entrance>Wipe, for example. (If you don’t see the Wipe animation, choose More Effects.)
  4. Click the animation’s item in the task pane, and choose Effect Options.
  5. Click the Chart Animation tab.
  6. Use the drop-down list to animate the chart as one object, by series, by category, or by the elements in the series or category. Usually, one of these options is what you want.

You cannot animate part of a table in this way.

Because animating charts and tables does not break them up into individual objects, you cannot animate the individual elements in their original form. For example, you might want to animate the Axis labels of a chart so that they appear one by one, along with the bars. For that, you need to ungroup them.

To ungroup a chart or table in PowerPoint 2002/2003, select it, right-click it, and choose Grouping> Ungroup (for a chart) or Ungroup (for a table). At the message asking if you want to convert the chart or table, click Yes. Click the chart or table. If you don’t see lots of objects, ungroup it again. You may want to regroup the elements that you’re animating together.


Here you see a chart after displaying the first category and axis label.

Chart after displaying the first category and axis label

Chart after displaying the first category and axis label

The table shows the result after displaying the first three rows.

Result after displaying the first three rows

Result after displaying the first three rows

To animated part of a table or chart in PowerPoint 2007, you need to use a different method, because you can’t ungroup them.

Note: When you ungroup a table or chart, you lose effects and non-solid fills. Also, editing the contents of the table will be more difficult. You may want to make a copy of the slide first to retain the full table. You can hide the slide. To hide a slide in 2007, go to Slide Show tab> Set Up group> Hide Slide. Alternatively, you can copy the table itself and drag the copy off the slide.

Warning! Before doing this process, be sure to format the table or chart the way you want it, including the size of the text, the solid fills, and the borders. The process will convert the table to lots of individual objects and formatting them all is quite difficult.

Microsoft has provided a workaround for 2007. Here are the steps:

  1. Select the table or chart and copy it to the Clipboard
  2. Go to Home tab> Clipboard group and click the Paste down arrow. Choose Paste Special.
  3. In the Paste Special dialog box, scroll down and choose Picture (Enhanced Metafile). This option results in a high-quality image. Click OK. Because the table was selected, the new pasted metafile replaces the original table. (A metafile is a vector type of image.)
  4. With the table still selected, go to Picture Tools Format tab> Arrange Group> Group> Ungroup (or press Shift+Ctrl+G).
  5. Click Yes to confirm converting the picture.
  6. The table is now a grouped object, so you need to ungroup it again. Choose Picture Tools Format tab> Arrange Group> Group> Ungroup (or press Shift+Ctrl+G).

To get ready to animate the elements, first check out what you have. With a table, for example, depending on the formatting of the original table, you may have:

  • A rectangle around the entire table
  • Lines that create the borders along the rows and columns
  • Rectangles that create solid fills for the cells
  • Text boxes with the contents of each cell

You should group together elements that you want to animate together. Delete elements that you don’t need. For example, you may not need the rectangle that borders an entire table, so you can select and delete it.

To group elements, select them and choose Drawing Tools Format tab> Arrange group> Group> Group (or press Ctrl+G). When you’re doine grouping elements, you’re finally ready to animate them, as described earlier.

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

31 comments to Animate a chart or table

  • […] Animate a chart or table September 27th, 2010 | Tags: anticipation, attention | Category: Delivery […]

  • Hello,

    Thanks for the tips. Animating tables is needed very often and the method you suggested is a lot better than messing around with disappearing “white boxes”, that some commonly use.

  • I’m glad to help! Yes, I’ve seen the disappearing white boxes and they can get messy. Also, if you need to edit the table, it’s so difficult with all those white boxes on top!

  • kbday33

    Hi Ellen,

    I am trying to pull a list of first name, last name and organization from an excel 2007 worksheet and placing this list of names into a powerpoint 2007. My objective is to be able to place the list of names into a SmartArt list and then animate each name individually. However, I want only about 8 names per PPT slide. I can’t find a way to “split” the table to continue onto the next slide. Is there a way to convert the excel list into powerpoint easily or should I just rewrite the names and animate as I would like.

  • I think this might help you:
    So, you would paste all the names into one slide, all as bulleted text, then expand the slide into 2 (or more), then convert them to SmartArt. Does that help?

  • Kasparov of Komputing

    Hey folks, you are trying to move a chesspiece with a rocket launcher here. Since this thread shows up in the top 10 on Google for this problem, I thought I’d let you know what I figured out.

    1. Create your table header and first row – you’ll want to decide on the correct number of columns, use two rows.
    2. Duplicate that, delete the header, and move that down – now you have a second row which Bill’s silly program sees as a separate table, and which has the same formatting as the first.
    3. Repeat to your heart’s content.
    4. Once you’re done – or at any point – animate away!


  • That’s a nice technique and I haven’t seen it before. Too bad the table doesn’t remember the spacing when you duplicate (the way it does with shapes), so you have to nudge each row into place each time. It’s a little difficult if you’re using alternating row colors, but otherwise works well.

  • Heidi

    Hi Ellen,

    I am using PowerPoint 2007. I would like to add effects by elements in a series but I do not see it in the drop down list on the Animation Tab. I only see as one object, by series and by category as my choices. What am I doing wrong?

  • I’m seeing 5 choices on the Chart Animation tab of the dialog box, including By Element in Series and by Element in Category. I doubt you’re doing anything wrong, but the options might depend on your data and the chart type. Try inserting another chart, using the default chart type and default data and see what you get.

  • Heidi

    Hi Ellen,

    I tried this with a bar chart and I did see 5 choices. However, I need to do this with a scatter plot and I am not given that option. Any suggestions?


  • Thomas

    Very helpful, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to do something else. Hopefully you can help.

    In a slide in one of my PowerPoint presentations, I’m using the “Tilted Matrix” chart. It has 4 boxes all correlating to a theme in the middle box. What I would like to do is enlarge one box to a full screen size to go over each section. Then have the enlarge box return to the chart and the next box enlarge. Is that possible? I don’t know if I’ve confused you at all haha.

  • This might help:
    It explains how to ungroup SmartArt — Does “tilted matrix” refer to SmartArt? Then you can animate the separate objects.

  • I need to have three small graphs on one slide and have one graph enlarge at a time and then be able to enlarge the next graph. Can you do this?

  • It sounds confusing. Why not put them all on one slide, then show one enlarged and the other 2 small on the next slide, and so on?

  • Yves

    Dear Ellen
    I successfully animate one of my graphs in powerpoint 2010.
    effects option then click on series… and it works
    Unfortunately, when i shut down my computer, open it again, open my powerpoint files and attempt to make my presentation, the effects option “series” does not work anymore… the full slide appears on each click… five times as the graph has 1 information presented for 5 different dates. The question : How do I garantee that my presentation is stable and will be displayed as decided? thanks. Yves June 2, 2012.

  • Yves, I’m not sure why that would happen, but try the ungrouping method. Also, there’s a comment from Kasparov which describes a 3rd method.

  • El

    Can you hide a box on an organization chart in PowerPoint? I see I can use the disappear animation effect. Thank you.

  • As far as I can tell, you can’t make one box disappear and not influence the others. You can ungroup SmartArt (do it twice) and then you can animate the individual boxes any way you want.

  • Bill


    Maybe YOU have some clout with Microsoft. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE convince them to bring back the ungroup command for tables.


  • Debbie

    Thanks for the tips. I found your site while searching a way to animate blocks of cells (table) in 2007. Here’s my workaround: I inserted rectangular shapes the desired size and fill color, no lines, over the table cells I wished to highlight, set the custom animation order (entrance/exit, etc.), then moved the table cells to the front (rectangles to the back) so the table contents would show. The table has no fill except the cells that should remain highlighted throughout the slide’s animations. This allowed editing of the numbers in the table’s cells.

  • Ellen, you are a star! My colleague asked me if it could be done and I wasn’t sure. I found your link using the F1 button whilst in Powerpoint and your link title appealed to me. Your step by step guide was very easy to follow and hey presto we are now able to animate a table! Thank you 🙂

  • Lesley, thanks for your kind comments! Glad to help.

  • Shadi

    Hi Ellen,

    I have a Microsoft power point 2003 and I wanna put some effects on the numbers of a table that I have in the presentation. I have followed your steps, however when I go to the effect option part, I just have two tabs, effect and timing and I don’t see chart animation tab, could you please help me in this regard? How can I use chart animation?


  • Steven

    I once saw a power-point where all the pictures were scattered throughout the screen and then one by one they flip and enlarge as they come to the front and center, then a few seconds later they fade or flip out of the screen. How is that done? I am really curious and have been for over a year searching for the answer to that question. Could you help me!

    I have power-point 2010 on a Vista Computer.

  • It sounds like a combination of effects. Here are some posts that I think are relevant:

    Try out different animations to see which would be most like what you saw. Grow & Turn is one that sounds like it might be similar. Then it’s just a matter of timing all the objects.

  • Vishal Iyer

    Hi, had been searching for the solution for quite some time, your tips work great for me. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  • Cris

    I managed to animate one row of the table but there is still overlapping of two tables make it very I remove the copied table and remained with later

  • Karren Barlow

    Thanks for the help! I have also found how to make an org chart in powerpoint at this other website and it was very helpful!

  • Rob L

    Hi – maybe you can help with this question about how to get PPTX 2013 to ignore blank cells when animating a data series chart.

    I am building an animated 4 column data series chart. Each of the data series wipes up on click. The animation works fine, but the problem is that I don’t want to animate sections where the value is zero.

    It’s easy for me to delete the “blank” animations in the timeline, but the graph is used as a template and the extra editing steps will likely confuse staff who rarely use animations or the timeline. Leaving them in means that the presenter has to repeatedly hit advance to get past the extra animations.

    Each time I revise the graph (change the values in the cells or adjust the y axis range, PPTX re-inserts the superfluous animations. I tried both options under “Show empty cells as gaps or zeros” and that didn’t effect anything. “Show data in hidden rows and columns” is turned off.

    What’s frustrating is that this problem did not appear in older versions of PPTX or even PPT. Blank cells were not animated in the chart.

    Is there anyway to just have PPTX 2013 (for Office) simply ignore blank cells when animating? It could be a glitch with the new version, but it’s a painful one.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • Piyum Perera

    Thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I got it easily from you………….

  • Erick

    Hi Ellen,

    Thanks for the tip. I hit a bottleneck in pasting special because the dialogue box does not offer pasting as “Picture” (enhanced metafile as you relayed here). Without this option I am unable to continue 🙁

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>