What is Microsoft Sway? How to use the powerful presentation program, and how it differs from PowerPoint

business professional giving presentation

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Microsoft has spent decades as both a hardware and software juggernaut. And when you look at their products, it’s not hard to see why — nearly every PC user on Earth has used Microsoft Office or Microsoft 365 at some point.

And although we tend to think of Office as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, there are actually a lot more programs out there.

One of the most useful is Microsoft Sway. Sway is a presentation making app that can can be accessed at sway.office.com for free as long as the user has a Microsoft account. For those with a Microsoft 365 subscription, Sway offers more features than the free version.

What is Microsoft Sway?

Microsoft Sway is similar to PowerPoint in that both can be used to create eye-catching and informative presentations. But while PowerPoint centers around the slideshow format, Sway’s applications are more varied. 

With Sway, you can create anything from newsletters and resumes to portfolios and blogs. You can start from scratch if you have a specific design in mind, or you can upload images, documents, and YouTube videos, and Sway will design something for you around that. 

Additionally, Microsoft Sway is hosted entirely online, making it easy to access and share your finished work anywhere with an internet connection.

How to use Microsoft Sway

To get started on Microsoft Sway, you need to choose one of three options from the application:

  • “Create New” will enable you to create a Sway project from scratch.
  • “Start from a topic” will let you search specific topics and create an outline for your presentation based on that topic.
  • “Start from a document” will prompt you to upload a document, which Sway will adapt into a presentation draft.

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You can also click on one of the available templates for an instant outline. 

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There are two main components to Sway’s interface: the Storyline tab and the Design tab. The Storyline is your dashboard for organizing the presentation’s content, while the Design is where you’ll see how the presentation actually looks. To put it more simply, you create the presentation in the Storyline tab, and people who view it will see the Design tab.

If you’ve ever created a blog using WordPress, that’s a good reference point for how Sway’s Storyline works. The Storyline breaks up individual paragraphs, images, and videos into “cards” so that they’re easy to keep organized, move around, and tell the story you’re trying to communicate with your presentation. As you move items around on your Storyline, the Design tab will reflect those changes.

Once you’re ready to share your Sway, click the “Play” button in the upper-right corner to see how it looks, then click “Share” to send the finished Sway to whoever you want. 

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As with most creative endeavors, the easiest way to start putting together amazing Sways is to play around with it and see what works best for what you’re trying to do.

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