Sway vs. PowerPoint: Which Presentation Software Is Best for You?

For the longest time, we have relied on Microsoft PowerPoint for project and report presentations. A good project presentation is essential, whether for a school project or pitching a business idea to investors—and PowerPoint has been the go-to.

Recently, Microsoft launched a new presentation program known as Microsoft Sway. While it serves the same purpose as PowerPoint, the two applications have distinct features that make each unique.

Read on to discover the differences between PowerPoint and Sway, and which one works best for your presentations.

What Is Microsoft PowerPoint?

Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation software that comes as part of Microsoft Office 365 Suite, bundled with Word, Excel, and other Office tools.

This program uses slides, short videos, and screen recordings to deliver information. It is used to create both simple and complex presentations for educational purposes, business presentations, webinars, lectures, seminars, or personal use.

Microsoft PowerPoint has been used for such a long time that it is the only presentation application that comes to mind when the need arises.

What Is Microsoft Sway?

Microsoft Sway is an alternative presentation application that was launched in 2015 as part of Office 365 Education. It creates presentations that do not need the complex functionality of PowerPoint.

Sway allows you to get content from different sources, including the web, to create colorful files, presentations, and reports which you can view and share from any device. This application does not require training to use; all you need to know is how to drag and drop.

Sway vs. PowerPoint Differences

Sway does not aim to overthrow PowerPoint; their target audience tends to vary quite a bit. However, Sway does provide users an alternative presentation application. We'll compare both tools based on their price, purpose, layouts, templates, collaborations, and, last in order, sharing options.


Microsoft Office developed the two applications, but one is free, and the other requires a subscription to access. Sway is a free application as long as you have a Microsoft account.

On the other hand, PowerPoint is a licensed application, and you would need to purchase a subscription to access it. The cost is $10 per month for a single computer and $15 for access from up to five computers.


Sway has an informal feel and is for people who primarily get their content online and are likely to share their presentations on the web. PowerPoint is very formal and business-oriented and offers professional features and designs available for online and offline usage.


Sway offers you three different layouts to make your presentations. These include; vertical (allows you to scroll up and down), horizontal (gives you a continuous scroll sideways), and slideshow (works as a PowerPoint layout).

On the other hand, you can only do PowerPoint presentations in slideshow formats. In addition, you can add transitions and timers to your slideshows to give them a better flow.


Sway has fewer templates, mainly referred to as styles. The good thing is you can fully personalize your project with the available Sway styles because they are fully customizable.

PowerPoint offers thousands of templates that make your work easier, and you can even create your own templates depending on your presentation needs.


Sway offers collaborations because it is a cloud-based application. With PowerPoint, you can collaborate with other users if you use it as part of the Office 365 license. However, this function is not available in the standalone version of PowerPoint.


You can share Sway project links via email, text, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Also, you can decide the level of access the audience will get, which can either be view-only or edit. What's more, you can determine whether the recipient can share the link with others.

PowerPoint sharing options differ with the version you are using. Office 365 subscription allows you to share the project via email or link. For the desktop version, you can only share the project through email or your preferred sharing methods. To prevent your audience from editing the project, convert it to PDF or save the project as a read-only file.

Features of PowerPoint

PowerPoint comes with many features, but the following will help you improve your presentation skills and communicate your points more efficiently.

Slide Layout

This feature provides you with different layouts for your presentations. The choice of layout is determined by the type of presentation you are creating.


The insert option presents you with different features which you can add to your presentation. This includes SmartArt, images, shapes, videos, tables, and screenshots, to mention a few. You can make your presentation media-rich in this section, and make it appealing and easy to follow.

Slide Design

PowerPoint allows you to add design to the background of your slides, making them more attractive to watch. The background designs are available in different colors and textures, giving you the freedom to choose a design that best suits your presentation.

You can use the available designs or customize them as per your requirements.


During your presentations, the slides will appear on the screen one after the other. You can make this transition more appealing by adding animations to objects on the slide.

You can apply animations on an object at the three different stages of a slide. Furthermore, you can animate objects as they arrive on the screen, while they are visible and as they disappear.

Features of Microsoft Sway

Accessibility View

A sway is shown in a high contrast display by turning on the accessibility view. Also, animations are disabled, and navigation keys are turned on for easy reading when the accessibility view is on.

Audio Recording

The audio feature allows you to add narrations and commentary on your projects. It is a perfect addition to interactive presentations. Note that this feature is only available if the device you are using supports a microphone.

Security and Privacy

The security of your project when sharing it online is paramount, and that is why Microsoft Sway offers you the ability to lock your projects by use of passwords. With this feature, you will have peace of mind that all your files are secure.

What's more, if you do not want your audience to identify the software you used to create your project, Sway allows for this when sharing your presentations.

Viewers Count

If you want to note the number of people who viewed your project, Sway has the viewers count feature. Note that the number of views you get depends on your privacy settings and the number of people you share your content with.

Pros and Cons of Microsoft PowerPoint


  • After paying for your subscription, PowerPoint is easy to download, and you can use it from anywhere.
  • PowerPoint has animations and slide designs that help you create exciting and captivating business and formal presentations.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint is easy to use and allows you to print copies of your project directly from the software.
  • This application allows you to customize your projects to suit your needs. For example, you can insert images, shapes and highlight important points in your presentation.


  • The ongoing monthly or yearly subscriptions make using PowerPoint expensive in the long run.
  • PowerPoint offers too many features, which might overwhelm some users. Some end up creating crowded presentations with unnecessary objects and effects.
  • The audience may focus on the objects and animation, losing sight of the main agenda and defeating the purpose of the presentation.

Pros and Cons of Microsoft Sway


  • It helps you create interactive presentations.
  • Allows you to edit pictures to fit your specific needs and color choices.
  • The application is free to download and works on even iPads, and iPhones.
  • Sway has automated options for easy usage.
  • Sway projects save automatically, and several users can work on them at a go.


  • You can only access Sway if you own a Microsoft account.
  • You must have an internet connection to use Sway, unless you are using the App with Windows 10.

Sway or PowerPoint? Which Presentation Software Should You Choose?

The choice between the two presentation applications depends on your audience, type of content, and presentation method. For example, PowerPoint is suitable for business presentations, and the presenter must be available during the presentation.

On the other hand, Sway serves an audience who prefer online presentations with videos and animations without a presenter.

Author: David Perry

Source: David Perry.” Sway vs. PowerPoint: Which Presentation Software Is Best for You?”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/sway-vs-powerpoint-presentation-software/

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