Loops are like buses. You wait ages for one then a bunch of them arrive at the same time! In our last looping article you discovered how to create infinite Motion Paths in PowerPoint. Now you’re going to learn a simple technique to loop sequences of animations in PowerPoint.

Animation effects in presentations aren’t just decorative, they’re a great way to pace your content so you can explain your story step-by-step. We’ve got lots of articles about how to use simple animations effectively (like this beginner’s guide to Morph and this introduction to PowerPoint animation), but today we’re going to look at something a little more sophisticated. Sometimes you might want to play a sequence of animation effects in a loop, over and over again to illustrate a particular point. PowerPoint allows you to loop a single animation effect but not a sequence of multiple effects. Our neat hack solves that limitation and, as an added bonus, gives you a warm fuzzy sensation because you know loops inside out.

How to loop one animation effect in PowerPoint

Let’s start at the very beginning as I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start! If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Hang on a second, I have no idea how to loop a single animation!’ – fear not! Take a look at the slide below. Let’s say you wanted the computer icon in column E to blink repeatedly until you move to the next slide.

Screenshot of a PowerPoint slide with several vertical bars on it labelled A to H. The bars have small icons at the base.

To do this you would add the Blink emphasis effect from the Animations tab (Animations > Add Animation > More Emphasis effects…). Then open the Animation Pane, right click on the blink animation you just added and select Effect Options. Then set up the animation as follows:

Screenshot of the effect options for the Blink animation in PowerPoint. The option to repeat teh animation until the end of the slide is selected.

How to loop a sequence of animation effects in PowerPoint

Okay, one animation successfully looped! But what would you do if you wanted a sequence of animation affects to play in a specified order and then repeat, as in this example:

This is just one PowerPoint slide with a fairly complex animation sequence used to show the production line process. This is what the Animation Pane looks like:

Screenshot of the animation pane in PowerPoint. There are lots of different animations running one after the other,

You can download this file to see how the animation sequence was created: Download looping animation file. What we want to do now is to set this whole sequence to repeat until the next slide. How? With our audio bookmark hack!

Step 1

Hover your mouse over the last animation effect in the sequence and make a note of the time it ends. In our example, it’s 13.5 seconds.

Screenshot of the PowerPoint animation pane showing that the sequence of animations stops at 13.5 seconds on the timeline.

Step 2

Record a sound file that’s a bit longer than the time you just noted down. This may seem odd but stick with it! To do this, go to the Insert tab in PowerPoint and – way over on the right-hand side of the ribbon – click Audio followed by Record Audio.

Screenshot of the Insert Ribbon in PowerPoint showing the record audio option selected.

Top tip: Name your recording using the target time so you remember when to stop recording!

PowerPoint Record Sound dialog

If you want, you can mute your microphone. Otherwise, keep completely silent and press the record button. Wait until the recording is the right length, then press the stop button.

Wait! Hold the phone. Why are we telling you to record a silent audio file?! All will become clear.

Step 3

Select your new audio file then set it up in the Playback tab as follows:

  1. Click Add Bookmark (this will add a bookmark at 0 seconds)
  2. Click Volume > Mute
  3. Click Start > Automatically
  4. Click Loop until Stopped
  5. Click Hide During Show

Your audio file options should now look like this:

Screenshot of the audio file options in PowerPoint showing all the settings selected as described in the text.

Finally, click the Trim Audio button and set the End Time to the exact time you want the animation sequence to repeat. In our example, the sequence lasts 13.5 seconds so we’ll set the audio end time to 14.00 seconds.

Step 4

Open the Animation Pane (download our free quick access toolbar customisation for Windows or macOS to open the Animation Pane with just one click). Then select the first animation effect in the sequence, hold down the shift key and select the last effect in the sequence. With the whole sequence selected, go back to the Animations tab and in the Advanced Animation group, click the Trigger menu followed by On Bookmark and then Bookmark 1.

And you’re done! You should now see two zones in the Animation Pane. The top part in the main timeline sequence just has the audio file in it, set to start automatically and repeatedly fire its single bookmark trigger event every 14 seconds. The main animation sequence has moved to what’s known as the interactive or trigger sequence. This sequence will now start every time the bookmark in the audio file is reached.

Screenshot of the animation pane in PowerPoint showing the two sections as described in the text.

And as the audio file is set to loop until you advance the slide, the animation sequence will repeat from when you start the Slide Show until you move to the next slide or quit the show. And it doesn’t stop there. Imagine what effects you could achieve by adding different sequences to different audio files with multiple bookmarks. One audio file triggering another that triggers a sequence of effects that triggers another audio file. Welcome to mind-blowing PowerPoint that makes your brain ache and your heart sing! No? Just us then!

Got a thirst for PowerPoint loops?

If you’re now looping mad, then you might want to check out this blog post: How to create infinite Motion Paths in PowerPoint. And our free BrightSlide add-in for PowerPoint includes lots of new ways to enhance your creativity, including some very cool animation tools that’ll have your boss, colleagues and audiences jumping for joy. Download BrightSlide!

Leave a comment
Written by

Jamie Garroch

Principal technical consultant

View Jamie Garroch's profile

Related articles

Aug 2022
07th May 2021

PowerPoint memory game

We love PowerPoint at BrightCarbon. It’s such a versatile application which can be used for so much more than ‘just’ designing presentations. You can create videos, printed collateral, interactive eLearning, even animated GIFs and so much more. But did you know you can even create games? We’ve built one for you, using VBA, and it’s free to download and adapt.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the BrightCarbon mailing list for monthly invites and resources

    Tell me more!

    We have other people in our own business reaching out to say this is the best presentation they have seen.

    Sarah Walker Softchoice