The 8 Best Features of Microsoft Sway for Creating Interactive Reports and Presentations

Jan 6, 2023

Sway is a web-based Microsoft app that enables you to create personal stories, presentations, and interactive reports. You can include your own texts, images, and videos or search for related content online right from the Sway app.

Sway lets you present information or ideas in an interactive, appealing, and modern way without any design skills. You can also share your creative content securely with the masses.

This article introduces you to the vital Sway features that you can use to go creative with Sway.

1. Multiple Document Layouts Styles

An image showing multiple document layouts in Sway

Your creative content doesn’t need to follow the styles and layouts of the tool on which you create. Sway lets you create your presentations, newsletters, or stories in three different layouts, like Horizontal, Vertical, and Slideshow. You can change the layout anytime during creation or even after publishing the content.

Sway content layouts are also compatible with left-to-right or right-to-left languages. Sway’s intelligent design program automatically adjusts the text alignment depending on the language.

A visual of multiple document styles in Sway

Sway also has seven preset styles that you can apply in your slideshows or websites. The styles give you various designs for content layout, decorative elements, color, textures, and image captions.

For example, you might use the second style if you prefer elegance and cleanliness in your creative content. Select the fifth style if you want rich background textures and a bold design attitude.

2. Style Customizations and Remix

An image showing the style customizations in Sway

You can customize Sway content styles to enhance the visual quality of your creative content. You’ll see the Customize button once you choose a preset style from Sway.

The customize pane lets you change several attributes of the style. For example, you can modify the Font Choices, Color palettes, and Color inspiration. You can also change the Text size and Animation emphasis of some of the styles.

A screengrab showing style remix in Sway

If you’re looking for quick content, Sway has just the right tool. Sway's automatic styling and layout feature keep offering you various content designs.

Add your texts, videos, images, and links, and then hit the Remix! button on the Design tab. Do you see anything you like? Keep that and publish your work. It’s that simple.

3. Live Content and Rich Visuals

A visual showing how to import images in Sway

Sway has in-built apps that feed relevant images, videos, and social media content. You can fetch third-party content from Flickr, Bing Images, YouTube, Pickit, and Twitter. You can also upload your own images or videos from OneDrive or local drive.

The following are the file size guidelines for Sway:

  • Up to 20 MB of PDF, Excel, PowerPoint, or Word file.
  • Up to 100 MB of a compatible audio file.
  • Not more than 768 MB of video content.
  • Images should be within 256 MB.

4. Edit the Grid for Image Groups

A visual for the image group menu of Sway

If you’re creating a Sway page with many photos or photo albums, you can make use of its photo grid or groups feature. You can choose from three groups: Automatic, Stack, and Grid.

There is a special option that turns your photo album into a slideshow. You can choose from three different styles of slideshows.

An image showing how to group images in Sway

In the Storyline tab, add multiple images to see the card selection option. The Group menu will show up if you select more than one image card.

5. Simple Text Formatting

A visual of text formatting options in Sway

Sway offers simple text formatting options. Therefore, you don’t have to invest time in complex settings. You can introduce beautiful styling by using the style remix feature.

For the Heading Card, you get formatting options like Emphasize, Accent, and Link. Emphasize gives you a bold font, while Accent italicizes the text. You get a bit more text formatting choices for the Text Cards.

In addition to Emphasize, Link, and Accent, you get Bullets and Numbers. Therefore, you’ll find it easy if you need to list items for your services or portfolio websites.

The Link button lets you add Display Text and Web Link. You can modify the content style from the Design tab to change the font.

6. Various Text Placement Styles

An image showing various text placement options in Sway

Sway enables you to place the texts beside images, videos, or GIFs the way you want. It offers 360 degrees of text placement options like left-aligned, right-aligned, scroll texts over an image, and so on.

Sway also has intelligent text placement programming. Let’s say you need to add a long text with many paragraphs and a relevant image in a vertical layout content. Sway will automatically pin the image on the right side.

Now, if you scroll the website, the texts will scroll while the images will stay fixed in one place. Here, you can also get the text scrolling over an image effect if you choose Intense emphasis on the Image card.

7. Custom Backgrounds for Heading

Sway lets you customize your heading background the way you want. Let’s consider that you need more focus on the heading of your website or presentation in Sway.

To achieve that, add a solid color background behind the heading. Choose a contrasting color for effortless visualization of texts. You can upload or find a solid background image online on Sway.

You can also make more impact on the audience by adding high-resolution images as heading backgrounds. Choose an image with enough negative space so that the heading text stays visible.

Images as a website or report heading are perfect for branding a product or service that you offer.

8. Responsive and Interactive Online Document

An image showing automatic screen adjustment of Sway

Sway pages are responsive for most devices, like desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. You can email the link to the Sway page to your mobile or tablet to see how it looks. Another way is to resize the website browser on which you’re working.

Sway will automatically adjust the website to best fit as you minimize or maximize the browser window.

Charts and graphs embedding option in Sway

You can also embed live Power BI charts and graphs in your Sway presentation or reports. Interactive charts and tables visualize the same way in Sway as they do in Power BI.

Flaunt Your Creativity With Sway

You can create amazing presentations, stories, websites, newsletters, reports, and photo albums by using the above-mentioned features of Sway. You can also easily brand your content the way you like it.

Sway helps you take your brand to the global audience effortlessly for free. Before portraying your stories on Sway, you can take some help from storyboarding apps to get them right.

An animation artist creating a storyboard

The 8 Best Storyboarding Apps to Visualize Your Ideas

Storyboarding apps can help you visualize your presentation and illustrate your ideas in a unique way. Here are some of the best ones to use!

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About The Author

Tamal Das (261 Articles Published)

Tamal is a freelance writer at MakeUseOf. After gaining substantial experience in technology, finance, and business processes in his previous job in an IT consulting company, he adopted writing as a full-time profession 3 years ago. While not writing about productivity and the latest tech news, he loves to play Splinter Cell and binge-watch Netflix/ Prime Video.

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