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Bullet Alternatives 014

Rounded Arrows

Using Bullet Alternatives

These curved arrows are an easy way to dress up a bulleted list. They work best in either two ways:

  1. Used as a table of contents at the beginning of a presentation and then each variation placed before its section (no animation needed)
  2. Used as a list and animated as reveals as the points are discussed.

There is a rounded arrow like this in PowerPoint, but we find it difficult to control with any level of precision when working with more than one. These rounded arrows will maintain consistency easily as along as they are grouped and resized as a group.

Once you have identified the best-suited bullet alternative, download it to a specific location on your computer so you'll be able to find it (the desktop is always a good choice).

Customizing your PowerFrameworks bullet alternative

Adjust size

If you want to change the size/shape of the bullet alternatives, be sure to group them and resize the entire group. Once resized, ungroup to proceed with other customizations.

Color variations

Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the bullet alternatives will reflect the color scheme of the rest of your document. These rounded arrows work best if there is no line color applied.

If you animate these rounded arrows and you wish to fade the previous list items, use the watermarking/ghosting technique: for a dark background make the previous items darker; for a light background make the previous items lighter. Click here to see the FAQ that contains more explicit instructions.

PowerPoint 2007 options

The bevel applied to the rounded arrows look nice, but it's tricky dealing with the rounded field that contains the high-level text describing the bullets. When bevels apply, this field becomes visible. If you want to use bevels, you'll need to use animation to exit this field when the first curved arrow appears so that the set of arrows look "clean."

The shadows also work. The same problem exists but to a lesser degree. Notice that the shadow under the horizontal field for the high-level text is darker? That is because there are two stacked fields that both have shadows. You may want to use animation to exit the horizontal field that contains the high-level text so the set of arrows look clean.

3D variations

3D is a nice choice, although layering is important. Remember that each introduction of a rounded arrow is layered under the previous.


A shadow effect adds interest and dimension to a graphic, but choose shadows that fall close to the rounded arrows. Otherwise the shadows will obscure the text associated with each rounded arrow.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients work fine, but be careful about which you choose. If you choose gradients on the diagonal, the first arrow and the subsequent arrows will have different colors. The example above is a diagonal gradient that has the dark part in the upper left and the lighter in the lower right. This diagonal seems to work okay.


Animations can be done in two effective ways:

  1. If you are just presenting a list of items, you can animate each successive rounded arrow and associated text as reveals. If you want to get snazzy, you can gray out the previously presented points (download the animated example to see how to do this).
  2. If you are using the rounded arrows as a document structuring device (table of contents and then the appropriate version of the list before each section in the presentation), you may want to do a simple reveal on the rounded arrow and text that introduce for that section. The arrows and text for the previous sections can be grayed out or not.

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