Glen Millar PowerPoint WorkBench PowerPoint MVP
since 2003
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Welcome to these tutorials, many of which were unique concepts when first published!


interact: techniques to interact with your presentation

easy slideshow in a slideshow ] grouped action settings ] hyperlinks demo ] image maps ] mouse over PowerPoint ] [ triggers explained ]


Triggers: interactive charts

Logic: shows you how to use PowerPoint's Triggers for interactivity

Note: there is also a hyperlink demo of this here

This is where we are going, an interactive chart that responds via Triggers. Note, this is not easy. You should have been at PowerPoint Live!


A trigger results in an animation sequence, or a sound or movie playing when an object is clicked. Our example is an interactive, Clustered Column chart that will respond to a user who clicks on any chart bar. A text box will enter, containing information about the data for that category. A different animation will result from a click on either of the four category bars.

The steps in building this slide are:

1. Format the chart and ungroup it into various objects,
2. Insert and animate the text boxes that will be the response to the trigger,
3. Add the triggers,
4. Identify further complications, such as any Exit animations,
5. Continue to build the rest of the slide.

We change the Slide Layout to hold a chart.

blank slide

We add a Design Template.

design template

We change the Color Scheme, if we desire.

color scheme

We add the chart and format it. That is, we format the chart to get rid of any details we don’t really need. We want our final slide to be as uncomplicated as possible. This includes getting rid of excess gridlines and selecting appropriate axis scales.


From this above, to this below!

formatted graph

We then ungroup the chart twice (Right Click, Grouping, Ungroup) and are ready to animate. Remember that ungrouping a chart will result in a loss of data from the data sheet.


 Now to format bars and add text boxes. The real trick is to color elements we will animate together.

add text boxes

Now, when we click the yellow bar, the yellow text box will animate in. Same for the grey, blue and pink bars. Colors help us follow what we are animating. Now something tricky that no-one usually tells you. When we go to animate Triggers, there will be a huge amount of objects to select from. We get around this by selecting all objects (everything except the colored bars and text boxes) and GROUP them. That will mean only ONE entry for the things we don't want to animate. Cool? We then animate our yellow text box to come in via Fade.

animation time line

Now, to animate the first Trigger. Our yellow text box will need to fire when we click the yellow bar. To add the Trigger, we select all animations that we want to result from the Trigger (note that we only have one animation so far in this example). When the animation or animations are selected in the animation Task Pane, we hit the <Enter> key to bring up the Effect Options dialogue box.

animation effects

In the animations Timing tab, we click “Triggers” and “Start effect on click of”. We select “Rectangle 26”, which is the name of the bar on the slide we want to click on.

We now have the text box appear after the “Rectangle 26” trigger in the animation pane. We continue to add and animate text boxes, adding Triggers as appropriate. That is, we animate the yellow box in when we click on Rectangle 26 (Yellow Bar).

animation time line

After all text boxes enter when the appropriate bar is clicked, we then look for any complications.


We currently have text boxes fading in on a mouse click. But if we then click on a second category, we will want any text box not associated with that category to go away. Using the example of the yellow bar, we build exit animations (Fade) for the grey, blue and red text boxes, and have the Exits Animations Triggered when the user clicks on the yellow bar. In plain English, we animate Exits for our 3 bars and drag those animations to the Trigger of rectangle 26.

animation time line

See. One comes in and 3 go out. (Ignore "j0400417.jpg as that is a separate image).

At this stage, we can click on the yellow bar and have the yellow box animate in and any other color boxes animate out, if they already appear in the slide. We now do the same for grey, blue and pink bars. Remember, you want the associated color box to come in, and all other 3 to go out.

Click Yellow Yellow box in Grey, blue and pink out
Click Grey Grey box in Blue, pink and yellow out
Click Blue Blue box in Pink, yellow and grey out
Click Pink Pink box in Yellow, grey and blue out

At this stage, all animations for triggers are done. But when we first load the slide, we have one last thing to do. We need all four bars to animate in (done in the example with "Ascend"). Also, we want all four boxes to disappear (done at the start with "Disappear").

animation time line

Here are the four bars animated in and the four boxes animated out, right at the start. Notice they are at the top of the timeline before any other animations that are all triggered.

If you have read to this point, you deserve the example!

Download Trigger Example





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