How to use PowerPoint’s morph feature to move bullet points


Keep your current discussion in focus by moving bullet points to the top of the list in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Image: Screenshot

Bullet points are a major part of almost every PowerPoint presentation. Usually, the points are a simple list. Occasionally, the presenter uses a clicker to give emphasis to each point as the discussion progresses. The more creative you are, the more likely your audience is to stay tuned in. In this article, I’ll show you a different take; I’ll show you how to move the bullet that’s being discussed to the top of the bullet list.

SEE: Microsoft 365: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system. The morph feature is available in Office/Microsoft 365 (back to version 2016). For your convenience, you can download the demonstration pptx file. This article assumes you have basic PowerPoint skills.

What to expect in this PowerPoint technique

This technique has a lot of steps, but they’re mostly repetitious, so while it might seem complex, it really isn’t. We’ll begin by creating the bullet list using a basic shape, so we can focus on the technique. Once we have the bullet shapes (we won’t be using traditional points), we’ll create a picture of them that we’ll use as a template for placement—that will make more sense in a bit. We’ll create a slide for each bullet and then use the morph feature to move through them. The first slide displays an ordered list. When you click, the first bullet moves to the bottom of the list and the remaining bullets move up, with the second bullet now in the top spot. This continues for each bullet. We’re keeping things simple with only three bullets (and slides). Adding more bullets isn’t more difficult; you simply repeat the same positioning steps.

If you’re not familiar with PowerPoint’s morph feature, you might want to read How to use PowerPoint 2016’s stunning new Morph transition. The feature is very powerful, but we’ll use it to imply motion or change between objects. 

How to create the bullet shapes

As I mentioned, simple is best when learning, so we’ll use the Rectangle: Rounded Corners shape. Let’s add the first one:

  1. Click the Insert tab and then click Shapes in the Illustrations group.
  2. From the dropdown, click Rectangle: Rounded Corners in the Rectangles section.
  3. Click and drag to size and position the shape, which will serve as a graphic bullet point (Figure A). You can grab the yellow circle to change the corner’s degree if you like, but we’ll stick with the basic shape.
  4. With the shape still selected, enter the bullet text for the first bullet, One!

Figure A

  Add a shape that will serve as a bullet point.

Copy the bullet shape to create two more using your favorite copy and paste method. At this point, you have three shapes with the same text. Change the text for the second and third bullet shapes (Figure B). If necessary, use the Arrange options in the Drawing group on the contextual Shape Format tab to align and space the bullet shapes. You could change the fill and font colors. You could even change the color of the top bullet shape, giving it emphasis. 

Figure B

  Enter the bullet text.

At this point, the bullet shapes are complete. The next step will help guide you when working through the morph steps—we’ll create a template of the bullet shapes to work as a guide when re-positioning the bullet shapes.

How to create the picture template

This next step isn’t strictly necessary but repositioning the bullet shapes is much easier this way. First, add a duplicate slide. You could use guidelines instead, but if there’s slight offset from slide to slide, it will show in the morph effect. 

Select all three bullet shapes on the duplicate slide, right-click the selection, press Ctrl+C to copy the selection to the clipboard, and then choose Picture under the Paste Option. (U). Figure C shows the bullet shapes offset a bit (you don’t need to move anything yourself unless you want to); notice the bounding box surrounding the picture of the bullet shapes. With the picture template in place, you’re ready to create the morph slides.

Figure C

  Create a picture of the bullet shapes.

How to set up the morph slides

When morphing, you have multiple but different slides. Because we have three bullet points, we need three morph slides. That’s our next step.

First, create a duplicate slide of the second slide (the picture template) slide. (Right-click the slide and choose Duplicate Slide.) Next, copy the three bullet points from the first slide and paste onto the third slide. The second slide is only the template. At this point, you have three bullet shapes on top of the picture template in the third slide.

Now move the first bullet shape (One!) below the others. The template One! is still visible in place, so it appears that you have four bullet shapes (see the left side of Figure D). Next, select the second and third bullet shapes and move them to the top, positioning Two! over One! and Three! over Two! Use the Ctrl+arrow keys to nudge the bullet shapes into place, directly over the shapes in the template shapes. At this point, you still appear to have four bullets in the following order Two!, Three!, Three!, and One!. (See the right side of Figure D).

Figure D

  Move the top bullet shape down and the others up.

Finally, move the last bullet shape, One!, into place over the second Three!, as shown in Figure E. Now, you have only three bullet points, in the order Two!, Three!, and One!.

Figure E

  This slide shows the second bullet point in the top position whereas the first has been moved to the bottom.

You have one more morph slide to create. Create a duplicate slide of the previous slide and reposition Two! to the bottom, pull up Three! and One! and then move Two! into the third spot, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

  Reposition the bullet shapes for the third morph slide.

Everything’s ready to start morphing—almost. Remove the template picture from each of the morph slides. Simply click in the area and when you see the bounding box, as shown in Figure G, press Delete. You’re deleting that picture of the bullet shapes, not the actual shapes. If you use guides instead of a template, you can skip this step. 

Figure G

  Remove the picture template.

How to morph

We have four slides but only three morph slides. You can probably delete that first slide, but it depends on how you’re presenting the data. I chose to leave all four for demonstration purposes. What matters is that you do not include the original slide, if you leave it in the presentation, in the morph transition.

SEE: Cheat sheet: Microsoft OneDrive (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

To create the morph transition, hold down the Shift key and click all the morph slides; in this case, that’s slides 2, 3, and 4. Then, click the Transitions tab and choose Morph from the gallery in the Transition to This Slide group (Figure H).

Figure H

  Add a morph transition for the three morph slides.

That was easy, wasn’t it!

To play the show press F5 and click twice. After the show, press Esc to return to edit mode. Unfortunately, you can’t control just how the morph feature moves the objects from one slide to another, but it’ll be cool regardless.

SEE: PowerPoint: How to create a snowball that grows as it rolls downhill (TechRepublic)

A few additional thoughts

This demonstration of the morph feature is simple. Once you’ve worked through the demonstration, try your hand at changing colors for the first bullet shape in each morph slide. Just remember to make those color changes for each morph slide. You can also add sound. You can group bullet shapes if you’d like to add an icon or some other meaningful graphic to each bullet. You could also remove the bullet in focus and move up the remaining, removing a bullet shape from each morph slide.

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