How to Create a Microsoft Sway Presentation

Create and share interactive reports, stories, presentations, and more

You can create an array of content types using Microsoft Sway, which is the digital storytelling app available online or with Microsoft 365. While there are some differences between the versions, making a basic presentation is essentially the same whether you use MS Sway on your desktop or online.

Follow along, creating some Microsoft Sway examples to learn how to create and share a Sway presentation.

Instructions in this article apply to the Sway desktop version in Windows 10 and the online version of Microsoft Sway.

Create a Microsoft Sway Presentation

Microsoft Sway is not just another version of PowerPoint or even Google Slides. While PowerPoint is best suited for offline, static content such as graphs, flowcharts, and bullet points, Sway is ideal for dynamic, online content.

Like Google Slides, Sway lives online. But unlike Google Slides, Sway allows you to embed other Office files, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, and even individual charts and tables from Excel. 

Once you log in to or open the Sway app, you can choose to start from scratch or base your design on one of the many templates provided.

  1. Go to and log in with your Microsoft account to use Sway online. Type sway into the Windows Search box and select the Sway app to open Sway on your desktop if you have it installed.

  2. Select a template that corresponds with the presentation you want to make, such as Business Presentation. Then choose Start Editing This Sway. A new presentation template will open.

    Screenshot of Sway welcome page
  3. Alternatively, select Create New to open a new, blank Sway.

    The "Create New" option in Sway

Work With Cards in the Storyline

The Storyline is what makes Sway unique. Unlike other Office applications, Sway uses cards in which you create or import a variety of content. A card is a sort of container that holds content within a Sway presentation, similar to a placeholder in PowerPoint.

The arrangement of the cards determines the appearance of your Sway presentation. You can easily rearrange the cards whenever you want to modify the way your Sway looks.

  1. Open Sway and select Create New.

    The "Create New" option in Sway
  2. Enter a title into the Title card.

    The Title card in a new Sway.
  3. Select Backgrounds to add a background image.

    The Backgrounds section in Sway
  4. Select the + button to add a new card.

    The Add Card button in Sway
  5. Select the type of card you want to add. Options include Text, Media, or Group.

  6. Choose the subtype of the card to add, such as Heading, Image, or Grid. Sway will suggest cards, as well.

  7. Add content to the new card. Continue adding cards and content until you have completed your Sway.

  8. Select a card to see more options. For instance, on some cards, you can select focus points. On others, you can set the emphasis for the entire card.

  9. Rearrange cards if desired. Select a card and drag it to the position you want it to appear.

  10. Select Play to view your Sway at any time.

Using Templates in Sway

Like other Microsoft applications, Sway offers built-in templates you can utilize to make polished presentations quickly.

  1. Open Sway and select a template under Start from a Template.

    The "Start from a template" heading in Sway
  2. Select Start Editing This Sway. Wait for your template to prepare. It will open as a new Sway with sample content in place.

  3. Select the Design tab in the upper-left corner and then choose Styles in the upper-right corner.

    The Design heading and Styles option in Sway
  4. Change the layout of your Sway by choosing between Vertical, Horizontal, and Slides in the right pane.

    The Styles options in Sway
  5. Choose the Customize button to select custom colors, typography, or textures.

    The Customize button
  6. Select an alternative style or variation at the bottom of the Styles pane.

  7. Select the Remix button at the top of the pane to let Sway change the design and layout for you. Keep selecting the button to view more options.

    Select the Undo button or press Ctrl + Z to go back to a previous option.

    The Remix button in Sway
  8. View or share the Sway whenever you are ready.

Text and Images

Enter the text and photos or graphics you want to use to create the bones of your Sway presentation. You can enhance your Sway by incorporating a range of content types from numerous sources.

  1. Select the template title and replace it with the title you want to give your Sway presentation. The title you give your Sway will be the first thing others see when you share your presentation.

  2. Select the + button at the bottom of any card to add content such as text, images, or videos.

    Screenshot of + button
  3. Select the Background area of a card to open the content pane. Search for public domain images and videos to insert in your presentation.

  4. Alternatively, select the Insert tab in the upper-right corner to find content.

    The Insert option in an active Sway.

    If you are using Sway as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription, you will see additional options in the content pane, such as OneDrive.

  5. Rearrange cards by dragging and dropping them.

Preview and Edit

Give your Sway presentation a good look before you share it with others. Customize the appearance further by changing the style.

  1. Select the Design tab to preview your Sway presentation.

  2. Select Play in the upper-right corner to preview how it will appear to others.

  3. Select the Settings icon in the upper-right corner to choose a different layout.

  4. Select Edit to return to the Storyline.

  5. Choose Styles to view alternate styles. Select a style to apply it to your presentation.

Share Your Sway

You can also share your design with others on a variety of platforms using numerous methods.

Select Share in the upper-right corner to view sharing options, including:

  • A shareable link,
  • A visual link with a preview of the Sway,
  • Direct share to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and
  • An embed code.

How to Collaborate on a Sway Presentation

MS Sway is ideal for collaborative designs, as well. Whether you need to pitch in with classmates on a school project or work with colleagues on a company report, everyone involved can efficiently work together on a Sway presentation no matter where they are located, provided they have internet access.

One of the sharing options is to Add an Author. When you use this feature, Sway generates a unique link you can share via email, social media, or any other way you want to with all of the people you want to collaborate with on the presentation. Not only will they be able to view the Sway using this link, but they can also edit the file.

And, if you change your mind, no worries. You can manage editing permissions on any Sway presentation.

  1. Open the Sway presentation on which you want to collaborate with someone else.

  2. Select Share in the upper-right corner.

  3. Select the Edit button next to Invite People to. Sway will generate an edit link.

  4. Select More Options.

  5. Choose Require a Password to View or Edit This Sway if you want to protect the presentation with a password.

  6. Select Viewers Can See Share Buttons if you want other users or viewers to be able to share the Sway.

  7. If you ever wish to revoke access to your Sway, select Reset the Share Settings in the Share menu. The web address of your Sway will be permanently changed, so the link you shared previously will no longer work for anyone. You can create a new link to reshare with whomever you choose.

Other Sway Presentation Features

Sway has other features and tools that might be beneficial when you want to enhance a presentation.

  • You can record narration or other audio to any Audio card. Select the Record button and give Sway permission to use your microphone to begin recording. Press the Stop button when done and then choose to Add an Audio File.
  • Access Navigation View by selecting the Navigation button in the lower-right corner while in Design view.
  • Autoplay for users with a Microsoft 365 subscription. Select the ellipses in the upper-right corner of the window and choose Settings for This Sway to turn on Autoplay.
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