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How to Create Your First Microsoft Sway

My initial impression of Microsoft Sway is, it’s like a mashup between PowerPoint and Microsoft Publisher with a bit of OneNote thrown in for good measure. In fact, the folks behind Sway are actually from the OneNote Team. The latest in the family of Office applications started out as a web-based app; instead of the familiar desktop applications that we are used to getting as part of the suite.

Sway is designed for a new era of publishing and communication. An era that focuses on the web and mobile. It’s is also available as a modern application on Windows 10 and mobile platforms such as iOS and Android.

Publish Content Using Microsoft Sway

If you are running an older version of Windows or alternative platform such as MacOS; you can access the service through a supported web browser to create your Sways. For this article, I will be focusing on the universal application bundled with Windows 10. After launching Sway, you are greeted by the simple gallery interface. Here you can create a new Sway or import content from an existing Word document, PowerPoint presentation or PDF file.

sway-ui-1

You can open, play, share or delete existing Sways from the gallery. The hamburger menu lets you manage your account and application settings.

sway-open

When you are ready to create a Sway, click Create New. As you can see below, Microsoft Sway is unlike any other Office application; but there is some familiarity there if you have used applications like PowerPoint before. Sway requires an active internet connection to edit and sync changes. At the top are menus where you can access text-based tools, insert various types of media from different sources such as Twitter or YouTube and modify the design and layout of your content.

main-ui

The Insert menu provides suggested media when it detects the type of content you are preparing based on keywords in your Sway.

suggested-media-insert-menu

If you find something of interest or relevance, select it then click Add. If you want to add a background, you can choose from a variety of sources, which includes YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, OneDrive or locally.

insert-content

The Design menu provides a gallery of suggested canned color schemes. Existing ones can be modified to fit the theme of your Sway. Options for font styles and animation behavior are also available.

design-tab

The Layout tab features different ways you can present your content.

layout

The story line is where you create your content; this starts as a card, which includes a background image, title, and formatting options. You can have a particular card for titles and another for text. If you want to modify a card such as delete or change its position, select the card, then click Delete. To change its position, select it then drag, just like you would a slide in a presentation.

title-card

When you add content, you can see a real-time preview of what your Sway will look like when published. Use the maximize Storyline button to see a full preview.

sway-combined

Publishing Your Sway

When you are ready to show the world your Sway, you can click the Share menu then choose a variety of sources. These include social media, Microsoft’s public document network or generate an embedded code you can then share with specific recipients.

share-sway

Sway just like other Office applications features built-in tools for collaboration. The app compliments other apps such as OneNote, making it easy for students to create and share content in a way that’s less demanding.

preview-sway

The more I used Sway; I realize how much it is a close cousin to PowerPoint than even OneNote itself. The application can come across jarring at first, but once you get the hang of how it works, you will begin to love and see the benefits. This tutorial does not go into all details, in particular for functions like the Remix menu, but in future posts, we hope to take a look at those too.

For students who want a new way to have fun with team projects and teachers who would like to engage students, Sway is an excellent way to do it. Tell us what you think, have you been using Sway?

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