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How to add a bit of spin to a circle in a PowerPoint slide


Spinning most objects in Microsoft PowerPoint is easy, but circles need a bit of extra work to see the movement. Learn how to add objects that spin with the circle to your next presentation.

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Image: Vladimka production/Shutterstock

The spin animation in Microsoft PowerPoint makes shapes appear to turn, and it works great unless you’re working with a circle. You can’t see a circle spin—it spins, you just can’t see it because there’s nothing to anchor your eyes on. Adding other shapes to the circle is an easy way to expose the spin animation. In this article, we’ll add some stars to a circle so you can see the circle spin. Then, we’ll add a second layer of stars, just for fun.

SEE: 83 Excel tips every user should master (TechRepublic)

I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use earlier versions. For your convenience, you can download the demonstration .pptx and .ppt files. This article assumes you have basic PowerPoint skills, such as inserting shapes and setting properties. However, you should be able to follow the instructions to success.

How to spin a shape in PowerPoint

You can spin most anything. All you have to do is add the Spin animation (Emphasis). Let’s try that now with a rectangular shape. First, insert the rectangle into a blank slide. (Click the Insert tab, click Shapes in the Illustrations group, choose a rectangle from the Rectangles section, and then click and drag to size and position the rectangle.) Then, with the rectangle selected, do the following:

  1. Click the Animations tab.
  2. From the Animation gallery, choose Spin. If it isn’t a thumbnail in the gallery, click the More button and choose it from the Emphasis section shown in Figure A. (The More button is the bottom button on the gallery’s browse tool to the right. It has a straight line and a down triangle.)

Figure A

ppcirclespin-a.jpg

  Add the Emphasis Spin animation to the rectangle.

The small 1 in the rectangle’s top-left corner indicates that there’s an animation applied to this object. Click F5 to run the show. When PowerPoint displays the slide, click it to trigger the animation. Although I can’t capture the entire rotation, Figure B shows that the rectangle does indeed rotate.

Figure B

ppcirclespin-b.jpg

You can change this behavior a bit as follows:

  • Change the On Click setting to With Previous.
  • Change the Duration setting to make the spin faster or slower than the default 2.00.
  • Change the Delay setting to control when the spin begins. 

Using these settings, you can determine when the spinning begins and how quickly the object spins. Have you tried this with a circle?

How to spin a circle—kind of—in PowerPoint

If you’ve added a spin animation to a circle, you might have been disappointed. Let’s try that now and see what happens:

  1. Insert a circle onto a blank slide. Hold down the Shift key while inserting an Oval shape. Holding down the Shift key will create a perfect circle.
  2. With the circle selected, click the Animations tab.
  3. If Spin isn’t available in the gallery, click the More button.
  4. In the Emphasis section, click Spin.

Press F5 and click twice to bypass the spinning rectangle. Even though you applied the Spin emphasis to the circle, it doesn’t appear to move. It’s spinning, you just don’t see it.

How to spin a circle—and be able to see it—in PowerPoint

Applying the Spin animation appears to have no effect on a plain circle. A spinning circle isn’t visible unless something changes. The circle is spinning, you just can’t see it because there’s nothing to distinguish the movement.

You must add something that moves; we’ll add stars around the perimeter, as follows:

  1. Using the Shapes dropdown (on the Insert tab), insert a star shape (Stars and Banners section).
  2. If the star is the same color as the circle (and it probably is), use the Shape Format tab to change the color. Click Shape Fill in the Shape Styles group and choose a color. I chose white.
  3. Size the star using Figure C as a guide. Hold down the Shift key while resizing to maintain the perfect star shape.
  4. With the star selected, hold down the Ctrl key and drag a copy. Do this as many times as necessary. My circle has eight stars, so seven copies.
  5. Using Figure C as a guide, position the stars around the perimeter of the circle.
  6. Finally, click the 1 to delete the original spin animation. 

Figure C

ppcirclespin-c.jpg

  Add stars so the spinning is visible.

We’ll add the spin animation later. First, group all the stars and the circle, so they all spin together. Press Ctrl + A to select everything in the slide (Figure D). Then, from the Arrange dropdown (in the Drawing group) choose Group.

Figure D

ppcirclespin-d.jpg

  Select everything so you can create a group. 

Now that the circle and stars are one grouped layer, you can spin everything as one shape. To do so:

  1. Select the group, if necessary.
  2. Click the Animations tab.
  3. Click the Animation gallery’s More button if Spin isn’t in the gallery. 
  4. Choose Spin. PowerPoint will spin the circle and stars immediately, so you can see the effect. In fact, if you follow a single star, you can also see the circle’s outline spinning. By default, On Click is the Start setting, so during a show, you will need to click the slide to trigger the spin. 

It’s a simple effect, but you can add more spinning stars if you really want to jazz it up a bit.

How to add more stars to your spinning circle in PowerPoint

Right now, there’s one grouped layer: a circle and eight stars. They spin together as one shape. Let’s add a second layer of stars and see what happens. To do so, insert another star, resize it about the same size and make it red. Copy it seven times and use Figure E as a guide to position them. For our purposes don’t spend much time trying to space them perfectly—just eyeball it.

Next, group the red stars in a second layer. Hold down the Shift key while you click each red star. Then, choose Group from the Arrange dropdown (in the Drawing group). Figure E shows the new group’s boundary. 

Figure E

ppcirclespin-e.jpg

  Add a second layer of stars. 

Click the Animation tab and add the Spin emphasis as you did in the last circle. Now you have two spin animations: the white stars and circles and the red stars. From the Start option (in the Timing group), choose With Previous so that white and red stars spin at the same time. Next, from the Effect Options dropdown (in the Animation group), select Counterclockwise.

You might notice that both animations display the number 1 instead of 1 and 2. That’s because the animations belong to two different grouped layers and each group has one animation. When adding other animations, you’ll want to keep the grouping behavior in mind. In addition, you can change the timing options to spin the stars separately. For instance, if you change the red star group’s Start option to On Click, the red stars will spin after the white stars instead of at the same time.    

Run the show and click through all the previous slides. When you get to this last slide, click. The white stars will spin clockwise, and the red stars will spin counterclockwise. You can add as many grouped layers of stars as you like, but I recommend that you not make any animation too noisy, or busy. The effect can be counterproductive for your audience.

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MD Abdullah
Abdullah is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson. She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.
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