How to Create a Microsoft Sway Presentation

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How to Create a Microsoft Sway Presentation

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You can create an array of content types using Microsoft Sway, which is the digital storytelling app available online or with Office 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.

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. 

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

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 sway.office.com 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 blank 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.

    How to create a new Sway.
  2. Enter a title into the Title card.

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

    Select a background for a new Sway presentation.
  4. Select the + button to add a new card.

    Add a new card to Sway.
  5. Select the type of card you want to add. Options include Text, Media, or Group.

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

    Sway Card Options.
  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.

    How to view card details and focus points in Sway.
  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

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

    The Start from a template option in Sway.
  2. Select Start Editing This Sway. Wait while your template is prepared. 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 Styles option in Sway.
  4. Change the layout of your Sway by choosing between Vertical, Horizontal, and Slides in the right pane.

    Style options in the Sway Design panel.
  5. Choose the Customize button to select custom colors, typography, or textures.

  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 Option 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.

    Screenshot of Sway title
  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 video 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 an Office 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 see 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. Select Styles to view alternate styles. Click on a style to select it and 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.
  • 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 easily work together on a Sway presentation no matter where they are located, provided they have internet access.

One of the sharing options is called 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. An edit link will be generated.

    Where to edit sharing permissions in Sway.
  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, that include:

  • The ability to 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 Add an Audio File.
  • The ability to access Navigation View by selecting the Navigation button in the lower-right corner while in Design view.
  • The option to Autoplay for users with an Office 365 subscription. Select the ellipses in the upper-right corner of the window and choose Settings for This Sway to turn on Autoplay.