What is Microsoft Sway?

Aug 20, 2020 | Microsoft 365 Hints and Tips

Sway is one of the apps in the Microsoft 365 suite and is used to create presentations.  While it isn’t as flexible as Microsoft PowerPoint it has a different look and feel which can be a refreshing change and is quick and easy to create once you know how it works.

The storyline

The storyline is the list of text, pictures, video, audio etc which become part of the show.

When you start creating a presentation with Sway it assumes you will need a title first and provides a section to be completed for this.  From here other sections can be added.  The layout you see in the storyline is not always what you see when you play the Sway.

Image of sections in Sway


Heading 1 – This can include text, a background image and a link

Text – This can be a bulleted list, numbered list, or general text.  It can also be changed to a heading if required

Image – This is an picture with text to the right it which can be a bulleted list, a numbered list or general text.  This text is called the caption and actually shows below the image when the Sway is played.

Video – Similar in layout to the Image

Audio – Similar in layout to the Image.  Sound can be recorded directly in here

Embed – Other types of information can be embedded using an embed code

Upload – Allows other files to be uploaded such as Excel spreadsheets and Word documents.  By default a title and upload file are created.  The upload file has a similar layout to the image.  The title can be removed if not required.

In addition groups of items can be added to create different layout effects.  These will contain a mixture of some of the section options above.

Each slide also has the option to also set the emphasis to subtle, moderate or intense.


Design contains a button called styles.  From here it can be determined whether the slides run vertically, horizontally or like a standard slide show.  In addition standard themes can be used to change the look and feel of the whole show or this can be customised to specific requirements.  This affects the colours, the design and how subtle (or otherwise) the emphasis is for each slide.

Image of the styles in sway

Play the Presentation

Once the Sway has been completed the sequence of objects chosen can be played.

Image of a Sway presentation

If you haven’t noticed it before then have a look and see what you think of Microsoft Sway.  It’s designed to be quick and easy to use without a lot of the added complexity available in Microsoft PowerPoint.  This is sometimes a plus point and sometimes a negative so why not give it a go.

Want to learn more about Microsoft 365? Then email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Microsoft 365 Courses I run.