How to use Microsoft Sway

monticello/ Are you a Microsoft Office user who wants to quickly create a web presentation, interactive report, or personal portfolio? PowerPoint can be intimidating to learn and use, so consider using the lighter alternative, Microsoft


Are you a Microsoft Office user who wants to quickly create a web presentation, interactive report, or personal portfolio? PowerPoint can be intimidating to learn and use, so consider using the lighter alternative, Microsoft Sway.

With Sway, you can create a presentation without design skills or creative experience. The app provides you with cards, or blocks, for a structured way to create your content. You can easily insert text, images and videos, make your Sway look attractive with subtle animations and easily share it.

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Getting started on Sway

Visit the Sway website and sign in with your Microsoft account. You then have several ways to create your Sway.

Ways to Create a Sway

Create a new: Start with a blank document where you add all sections and design elements.

Start from a topic: Enter a search term and Sway creates an overview of the sections for you.

Start from a document: Upload a document such as a plan or an article and Sway inserts your content into sections.

Start from a template: Use one of the templates to quickly start your project. Topics vary with options for a newsletter, resume, portfolio, ad, story, and company presentation.

After choosing one of these options, you will see two main areas at the top left to build your Sway: Storyline and Design.

To note: As you create your presentation, your Sway is saved automatically.

Create the scenario

Select “Storyline” at the top left to create the sections, add the cards and insert your content. It is a central point to build your Sway.

Storyline button on Sway

The very top card is your title card and can include both text and a background image.

Title card with an image

To add the next card, click the plus sign at the bottom of the previous one. You’ll then see suggested options, or you can specifically choose Text, Media, or Group.

Options for adding a map


When you select a header card and add your text, it will appear large and highlighted in your Sway. As you can see in the screenshot below, Etymology and Taxonomy are headings.

Titles in a Sway

To note: This is a style example; you can change colors, font and layout.

Headings are a great way to divide your Sway into sections. You can then include the cards you need under each title.

Text cards

Insert a text card to add paragraphs, bullets, or a numbered list. Type your text in the box and use the toolbar options to format it or add a link. On the right of the toolbar, use the boxes to highlight and the trash can to remove the map.

Text card

Media Cards

You can insert an image, video or audio file as well as embed 3D content or tweets or upload an item from your device.

Media Cards

Each type of media has its own options. For example, you can include a caption for an image or record your own audio.

To add an image or video using a web search, click the image or video location in the map to open the sidebar. Use the tabs or search at the top to locate media. Then select it and choose “Add” or drag the item onto the map.

Image search on Sway

Point: Check the box at the top to search for Creative Commons images.

You can also use the highlight options in the media toolbar. Choose between Subtle, Moderate, or Intense to display this element differently in your presentation.

For images, you can also use the Focus Points tool to focus on a specific part of the image.

Image sharpening and focus points

group cards

You can group images in several unique ways in Sway.

Group card options

  • Automatique: Let Sway decide on the best layout.
  • Gate: Places images in a grid layout.
  • Comparison: Place two images side by side.
  • Stack: Place images in a clickable stack.
  • Slideshow: Cycle through each image as a slideshow using one of three views.

To change the layout after adding the images, select “Group Type” from the toolbar. Then choose the new layout on the right side.

Change group type with options

Design your swing

You can work on the design part at any time of your Sway creation. Select “Design” in the top left next to Storyline.

Button Design on Sway

Depending on the option you selected to create your Sway, you may see a default style. To choose another, click on “Styles” at the top right.

You will then see the layouts for all of Sway at the top. You can choose Vertical, Horizontal or Slides depending on which direction you want your Sway to appear on the screen.

Layouts in the Styles sidebar

Then you will see a collection of styles you can choose from with different colors, shapes, and backgrounds. Use the arrows on the right to see all options for a style.

Styles on Sway

Once you’ve chosen a style, use the customize button at the top to change the color inspiration or palette, font style, animation emphasis, and text size. Animations are what you see when the elements of your Sway appear on screen.

Customization options for a style

Another option for designing your creation is to let Sway do it for you. Select “Remix!” at the top of the Styles sidebar to see what Sway has for you.

Remix style option

You can easily undo any changes made by selecting the Undo button above the Styles sidebar. Additionally, you have a Redo button if you change your mind.

Play, share or edit your swing

At the top right of the Sway screen, you’ll see a Play button. Select this option to view the presentation as your audience will.

Select the icon in the lower right corner of the Playback view to jump to a particular section of your Sway. Then click “Edit” to return to the Storyline and Design screens.

Navigation for a Sway during the game

Select the Share button to get a text or visual link to your Sway, share it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or get the embed code. You can also set permissions for who views your presentation, require a password, or include share buttons.

Sharing options for a Sway

To duplicate your Sway, save it as a template, print or export your presentation, select the three dots at the top right, and choose an option.

Swing Options Menu

You will also see Settings for this Sway in the menu above which allows you to choose a language, display direction buttons, adjust display settings, and autoplay your Sway.

Sway settings

To easily create an eye-catching web presentation, check out Microsoft Sway.

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