Both PowerPoint and Sway can be used to design presentations and both come from the Microsoft family, which begs the question: What’s the difference between the two?

While it’s true that each application has a similar general purpose, there are distinct differences in features and design that make one better than the other depending on your circumstances. To figure out which is best for your particular presentation needs, check out this side-by-side comparison of these two presentation power players.

Desktop vs. Mobile
One of the standout differences between Sway and PowerPoint regards where each one lives. Sway is an online application, so all of your designing and viewing is done on your browser or using the mobile app. PowerPoint is first and foremost a desktop application, so it needs to be installed on your computer. You can use an online version via Office 365, but has limited capabilities.

Design Format
PowerPoint offers a more traditional approach to presentation design, offering a linear structure in a slide format that you’re likely already familiar with. Sway, on the other hand, focuses more on digital storytelling using a card to organize sequences of information in a scrolling format just like a webpage.

Online vs Offline
When it comes to adding online content, Sway makes it really easy to embed media directly from sites like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, or Soundcloud. While PowerPoint allows that as well, you also have to jump through a few more technical hoops to get there. However, PowerPoint is generally better for offline use, allowing you to easily print out handouts of your charts and slides for the audience.

Edit Navigation
PowerPoint makes it easy to jump from slide to slide and edit accordingly, especially when you’re using the Zoom feature. Sway’s scrolling format, which is similar to a webpage, makes it a little tougher to go back and forth between sections of your presentation during the editing process.

Being that Sway is entirely online, it definitely wins in the real-time collaboration department, allowing you and collaborators to easily make edits at the same time. While Office 365 will let you collaborate in PowerPoint, it does so with limited features, and you can’t collaborate in real-time at all on the desktop version.

PowerPoint offers everything in the way of customizations, from tiny design tweaks to the ability to customize your entire presentation format from scratch. Because Sway is primarily designed for mobile presentation prep, you don’t have as many nitty-gritty customization options available, but you can still customize the overall style and feel.

Bottom Line
Generally speaking, if your presentation is super image-heavy with lots of online content, needs real-time collaboration, or you’re presenting on the go, then Sway is your best bet. But if you’re looking to build a presentation from scratch, full of customizations and data-rich charts and graphs, then PowerPoint is probably a better option.

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