The year is almost ending and maybe you want to display a countdown till January 1st. Or you need a countdown for the opening of your new shop? This article will show you how you can run a data driven countdown in PowerPoint. For a countdown you have to set a target date (e.g. January 1st, 2015). Then you need to calculate the number of days, hours, minutes from now till the target date. And finally you display this information in real-time in a running PowerPoint slide show on a monitor or television screen so that everyone can see.

Start with a Database

Start with a new Microsoft Access database. Start Microsoft Access and on the welcome screen click to create a Blank desktop database.

create a new database in microsoft access

Name it ‘Countdown.accdb’ and click the Create button.

Store the Target Date

First, create a table to store the target date; the date or time that the counter reaches its goal.  In the Microsoft Access menu click to open the Create tab and click the Table button. At the column ‘Click to Add’ click the arrow down and select Date & Time from the list.

add a date and time field to the table

This will add a new column to the table. Change the proposed name Field1 into Target. Position in the next row of the Target field and click the calendar pictogram. Select the date that the user wants to use in the countdown, e.g. January 1st, 2015. For targets not ending at midnight, there you can add the time part to this field since the column is declared as a datetime field in the database. Whenever you enter a date without a time part, then it assumes that the time is midnight.

type in a date value in the table's data

Click now the Save icon and name the table TableTargetDate like in this screenshot.

save as table name


Click to open the Create tab again and choose Query Design from the list of buttons. Click the Add button to add our target table to this query and hit Close. Make sure that the Design tab is open. Click the first button named View and choose SQL View from the list.

add a new query to the database

Now, we have to perform some calculations. Calculate the number of days from now till the target date etc. We are going to perform some magic here. We have to use a few functions and it will become clear when the user see it.  Paste the following string into the sql designer;

Format(DateDiff("d",Now(),[Target])-1,"00") AS days, 
Format(IIF(DateDiff("n",Now(),[Target]) Mod 60 = 0, DateDiff("h",Now(),[Target]) Mod 24 + 1, DateDiff("h",Now(),[Target]) Mod 24 ),"00") AS hours, 
Format(IIF(DateDiff("s",Now(),[Target]) Mod 60 = 0, DateDiff("n",Now(),[Target]) Mod 60 + 1, DateDiff("n",Now(),[Target]) Mod 60 ),"00") AS minutes, 
Format(DateDiff("s",Now(),[Target]) Mod 60,"00") AS seconds
FROM TableTargetDate;

Click the Design tab and choose the Run button. It will show the output similar to this;

days, hours, minutes and seconds in the query

We see the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds till our target date. The values are calculated only once here when we clicked the Run command.  Save this query to the database. Use the Save button and name it QueryTargetDate.

save as query

We are done with our work in Microsoft Access now. Close this database and exit Microsoft Access.

Data Driven Presentation

We are now going to design our dynamic presentation with the PowerPoint add-on DataPoint. Download the add-on and try it out for 15 days. Make sure it is visible in the PowerPoint menu. Start Microsoft PowerPoint and click DataPoint.

Click List in the Connections group.

click list of the connections group to add a connection

With the Microsoft Access node selected, click now Add connection. Click the Browse button and navigate to the Countdown.accdb database. Click Open to select it.

specify the database connection info

Click OK to add the connection to the list. Click now the Add query button at the right. Make sure that the query QueryTargetDate is selected. Also set the refresh rate to 1 second because that is important because we are counting precisely to our target time.

select the query that you want to use in the presentation

Click OK to add the query to the connection list. The user will see a preview of the countdown data already.

Click OK to close the connections. Add a text box to the slide and click DataPoint, then Text box button. Select the Days column at the available columns and click OK.

select the column of the query to link it to a text box

Now the content of the calculated field called Days is linked to the content of this PowerPoint text box dynamically.

first field linked to slide

Repeat these steps and add 3 other text boxes to the slide for hours, minutes and seconds respectively. The user slide will look like this now;

preview of countdown info on a slide

Run Dynamic Slide Show

Run the slide show and DataPoint will dynamically update the counters till the targeted end date is reached. Happy New Year to You!

countdown slide show with continuous updates


Download DataPoint from the PresentationPoint web site and  download this database and the DataPoint enabled presentation of this article with the live updating countdown.

Data Driven Presentations For You

Free PowerPoint Template

Countdown Microsoft Access Database

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