Microsoft Sway is a digital storytelling and presentation tool that allows users to create visually appealing, interactive, and dynamic presentations, reports, newsletters, and other multimedia content. Sway is part of the Microsoft 365 suite and is available both as a web-based application and a mobile app, making it accessible across various devices and platforms.
Start by adding your own text and pictures, search for and import relevant content from other sources, and then watch Sway do the rest. With Sway, you’re no longer limited to picking a pre-designed template that makes your presentations look like everyone else’s, and you don’t have to have any design skills to transform and showcase information in modern, interactive, and attention-getting ways.
With Sway, there’s no need to spend lots of time on formatting. Its built-in design engine takes care of making your creation look its best. If the initial design doesn’t quite match your taste or mood, you can easily apply another – or fully customize your layout to make it your own.
It’s super easy to share your finished Sways. Family, friends, classmates, and coworkers can see your creations on the Web without signing up, signing in, or downloading anything. And you can change the privacy settings for any Sway whenever you want more control over what you share.
Sway is free to use for anyone with a Microsoft Account (Hotmail, Live, or Outlook.com). You can create more sophisticated Sways with more content when you use Sway as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Sway is a web app that includes these top-level pages:
- The Home page (sway.office.com), where you can get tutorials, examples, and related links. You don’t have to be signed into Sway to view the home page.
- My Sways, which lists all the Sways associated with the account you used to sign in. This includes Sways that you’ve created and any Sways that have been shared with you.
- Authoring, the view where you create or edit a selected Sway.
- Play, where you can view your Sway like a slide show.
When authoring in Sway, you work in four main areas:
- The top navigation bar, which includes Play, Share, and app-level options.
- The menu bar, which displays Insert.
- Storyline, where you add, import, edit, format, and arrange the content of a selected Sway. To add a piece of content, insert a Card. To display certain Cards together in the finished Sway, make a group.
- Design, which shows you what your finished Sway looks like.
Tip: If you are using keyboard shortcuts to navigate, to move the focus through these areas in Windows, press Ctrl+F6. On the Mac, press Control+Fn+F6.
To get started with Sway, visit sway.office.com in any browser and then click Sign in on the top menu bar.
When prompted, enter the email address you want to use with Sway. You can use your free Microsoft Account (Hotmail, Outlook.com) or any organizational account given to you by your work or school.
Whether it’s a report, a presentation, a newsletter, a personal story, a photo album, or a visual trip report, there’s virtually no limit on what you can express creatively with Sway.
If you’re not sure what’s possible, you can get inspiration by viewing and interacting with Sways that other people have created. After you’ve signed into Sway, scroll down to the bottom of the My Sways page, and then browse through the featured content under the heading Get inspired by a featured Sway. You can also choose to start with one of the featured templates to begin using and learning Sway.
The Storyline is where you type, insert, edit, and format the content that tells your story. Content is arranged in sequential order by adding cards, each of which holds the type of content you want – such as text, images, videos, and even Office documents. The order of cards can be rearranged at any time to suit your needs.
Click the Title your Sway placeholder text shown in the first card on the Storyline, and then type a short but meaningful description of what your Sway is all about. When you later share your finished Sway, this title will be the first thing that others will see.
To add content to your Sway, such as text, images, or videos, click or tap the + icon at the bottom of any existing card. You can also drag and drop text and images right onto your Storyline. (Don’t hesitate to experiment – you can change the order of your content at any time and customize each card the way you want.)
You can easily search for and add additional content to your Sway, such as an image that is stored on your computer or mobile device. Sway can also search the Web for the most relevant content, such as videos, and add it to your Sway. On the menu bar, click Insert, select your preferred content source from the menu, and then enter any search keyword or phrase into the Search sources box.
You can preview your work in progress at any time by clicking the Design tab. When you preview your Sway, you can see how it will appear to others when you later decide to share it. To fully experience your Sway, click the Play button on the top menu bar.
Sway lets you focus on what you’re trying to communicate by taking care of the formatting, design, and layout of your content. You can keep Sway’s suggested default design, select and apply your own, and even customize the layout.
To choose a style for your Sway, click Design on the menu bar, and then select Styles. To choose a random look and mood for your Sway at any time, click the Remix! button until you find a design and layout you like. You can also adjust a specific part of the currently applied style, such as color, font, and textures, by clicking the Customize button in the Styles pane.
When viewing a Sway, you can turn on Accessibility view. This view displays a high-contrast style for easier reading, disables any animations, and supports keyboard navigation for use with screen readers.
To turn on Accessibility view:
- If you’re using a mouse or touchscreen, on the More options menu (shown as three dots on the Sway toolbar), choose Accessibility view.
- If you’re using a screen reader, on the More options menu, when Accessibility view is selected, you hear “Displays this Sway in a high contrast design with full keyboard functionality and screen reader access to all content.”
When you turn on Accessibility view in Sway, here’s what happens:
- The entire Sway is loaded into memory to allow Assistive Technology to access all of the content and provide jump locations (for example, a jump to the next heading).
- The color scheme changes to black and white to provide high contrast for text.
- The navigation switches to vertical scrolling to make it easier to navigate the Sway with a keyboard or with Assistive Technology.
- The layout is presented vertically to allow users to focus on one piece of content at a time.
- Specialized groups (for example, grids, slide shows, stacks, or comparisons) are broken apart to provide easier access to the content.
- Interactive elements are marked with focus indicators to allow keyboard-only users to know what has the focus.
- Excessive animations are removed to reduce unnecessary distractions and to aid Assistive Technology.
Here it is how it looks like a Sway presentation in Accessibility View:
While viewing any Sway:
- To navigate through any selectable options, on your physical or on-screen keyboard, press the Tab key.
- To zoom a selected image in your current Sway, press Spacebar. To close the image and go back to the Sway, press Esc.
- To search for text within a Sway, use the Search box. On the More Options menu, choose Find, and then type your text.
When a Sway video or audio card has closed captions, you’ll see a CC symbol in the bottom right of the screen.
- Press the Play button to start the media player, then immediately press the Pause button.
- On the media player, select the closed captions symbol to open the closed captions menu.
- Select the language of closed captions you would like to see. From the closed captions menu, you can also adjust how the captions will look on the media player in Settings or turn the captions off.
Ready to share your Sway with the world or perhaps just with selected people? Click the Share button on the top menu bar and then select how you want to share your Sway. Your choices on this menu depend on the type of account that you used to sign into Sway.
Microsoft Sway is often used for creating educational materials, marketing presentations, reports, newsletters, and more. It offers an alternative to traditional slide-based presentation software and encourages a more interactive and engaging approach to content creation.
If you still have questions or need help for Microsoft Sway don’t hesitate to contact us, we at Impactory GmbH are having more than 10+ years of experience in Microsoft 365 and can help you realize your projects and reach the targeted goals.
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