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Free tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office and Windows

Understanding the Microsoft Sway Storyline

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As with any new program, the first time we open an application can feel a bit overwhelming. In this article, I’d like to explain the Microsoft Sway Storyline and how to navigate and use it effectively.

What is the Storyline?

The first important term you should know is the Sway “Storyline”. The Storyline is where you can type, insert, edit, and format the content of your Sway. The Storyline displays your content in sequential order and uses cards to hold each type of content. Your Sway can include text, images, video and other Office document types including forms. You can easily move cards around within the storyline to change the sequence and add or remove cards at any stage.

Each Microsoft Sway has a title which can include an image, and/or background, the title of your story and other relevant information such as your author details or the date. This is very much like the Title slide we find in a PowerPoint presentation.

The Sway Storyline


A Sway is created using cards. Each card holds information which will be displayed in your story when viewed.  You can add new cards at any location, delete cards you no longer need or move cards to change the order of the content in your story. If we relate back to other familiar programs, a card is just like a placeholder in PowerPoint.

Card Types

There are currently 13 different card types to choose from which are grouped into 3 areas:

  • Text options include Heading 1, Heading 2 and Text
  • Media options include Image, Video, Audio, Embed and Upload
  • Group options include Automatic, Grid, Comparison, Stack and Slideshow

Depending on the type of card you use, will determine the functionality you have within the card to edit the appearance and options within that part of the story.

Title Cards

The very first card in any storyline is the title card. This card is the first thing people will see when they view your story and is just like an opening slide in a PowerPoint presentation. The title card allows you to add a title to your sway plus you can include a background image. You can use the Emphasize (similar to Bold) or Accent (similar to Italics) buttons to add an effect to the title text. The Link option will allow you to hyperlink the title to a website.


So we know that the storyline is made up of cards. When you want to include more than one card type together, this creates a section. A section might contain a heading and several image cards plus some text or a combination of the available card types. These create a grouping of the cards. Cards can be moved within sections if needed.

In my example below, I have added a heading, image and text card all within the one section. When I view this as a Sway, they are displayed within the one area, or section, of my Sway story.


Microsoft Sway gives you three different layout options for your content. Content can be viewed vertically, horizontally and slides view. The different layout options give you flexibility on how you want your Sway to be viewed and you can specify whether you would like viewers to be able to change this setting if they wish.

Understanding the Microsoft Sway Storyline

Preview your Sway

Whilst you are adding content to your Sway, you may want to see what the end result will look like. This is where you can preview your Sway and see how the storyline and cards will come together in your final Sway.

  1. With the Storyline visible, click the Play button in the top right corner of the screen
Understanding the Microsoft Sway Storyline
  1. The Sway will now load and be displayed, allowing you to scroll through the content you have added to the storyline
  2. To return to the Storyline and continue editing, click the Edit button in the top right corner of the screen or press Esc on the keyboard

I hope this helps to begin navigating the Sway Storyline. Be sure to check out my other Microsoft Sway articles here. Leave any comments or questions below.


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