Drop-down menus in PowerPoint

We are all familiar with drop-down menus, right? They are all over the internet and we use them frequently to navigate the virtual world. What I know, and am going to tell you all about, is how to create drop-down menus in PowerPoint.

To answer why you might want a drop-down menu, the keyword here is navigation. When showing your presentation onscreen a clickable drop-down menu will allow you to move around freely through your content.

Before I start on the steps, if you are planning to follow this guide, you’ll need to open the Animation and Selection Panes.

To open the Animation Pane, go to the Animation tab and click on Animation Pane. For the Selection Pane, go to the Home tab > Arrange and click on Selection Pane.

Step 1: create your menu items

With PowerPoint shapes, build your menu, making sure to use a separate (grouped if necessary) shape for each menu item. These are going to be your clickable buttons.

Once this is done, go to the Selection Pane and rename each object to match the text in the shape. Here’s what it should look like:

Screenshot of renamed items in the Selection Pane

Renamed items in the Selection Pane

Step 2: add slide content

Firstly, add the content you would like to appear when you click ‘Menu item 1’ – be that text, an image, a diagram etc. Make sure the content is grouped as one object. Now, rename it in the Selection Pane (something simple like ‘Textbox 1’).

You can now start animating your content. The most likely scenario is that you would like Textbox 1 to appear (and then disappear) when you click on Menu item 1. To do this, you need to add a trigger to Textbox 1.

Step 3: add some triggers

With the Animation Pane open, select Textbox 1 and apply an Entrance animation to it (I like Float In but it’s subjective). Next, click on the Trigger drop-down (I told you they are everywhere), and select On Click of > Menu item 1. Thus:

Screenshot of adding a trigger to an object for animation

Adding a trigger to an object for animation

You then need to add another trigger, for the textbox to fade out when Menu item 1 is clicked again. For this you will need an Exit animation (eg Fade, again this is up to you).

Note: be careful when doing this to use the Add Animation button:

Screenshot of the Add Animation button

The Add Animation button

Step 4: fade out the other buttons

Now make the other buttons unclickable whilst the content for Menu item 1 is displayed. To do this, add a shape to cover the buttons and give it a transparency, then add triggers to have it appear and disappear with the content.

This is what it will look like:

Screenshot of faded out menu

Faded out menu

Step 5: repeat the above steps

Create your content for Menu item 2. To keep things simple and clean, in the Selection Pane use the same naming conventions as above. The Animation Pane should now look something like this:

Screenshot of Animation Pane showing trigger order for drop-down menus in PowerPoint

Animation Pane showing trigger order for drop-down menus in PowerPoint

Step 6: you can make drop-down menus in PowerPoint!

Once the above steps have been repeated for each menu item, run the presentation in screen mode to check it all clicks through as it should and voilà, you can now proudly display your sparkly new drop-down menu.

There are plenty of YouTube tutorials on this subject, like this one.

If making your own drop-down menus in PowerPoint is all a little complicated and you simply don’t have the time (or energy), you can always get in touch with Presented.

We will take the pain away!