Draw and write with ink in Office

In newer versions of Office, you can draw freehand to make annotations, highlight text, or quickly draw shapes. (We call this drawing with digital ink.)

No special equipment is required; you can draw with a mouse, your finger, or a digital pen. The exact features available depend on the type of device you're using and whether you're an Office 365 subscriber. In some apps, for instance, you can replay ink or convert ink to regular text, shapes, or math.

"Hello" is written on the PowerPoint canvas in digital ink.
  • If your device is touch-enabled, the Draw tab is turned on automatically. Otherwise, you must turn it on yourself, as described below.

  • If your pen device uses an active pen (not just a stylus), Office detects when your pen is in range of your screen so you can start inking automatically.

Turn on the Draw tab to see the inking tools

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Inking tools are available on the Draw tab of the ribbon, but by default, that tab is not turned on. To make the optional Draw tab visible:

  1. On the File menu, select Options.

  2. Tap the Customize Ribbon tab in the Options dialog box.

  3. In the box on the right side of the dialog box, tap the check box labeled Draw.

    The Draw tab remains visible on the ribbon in this app until you return to this dialog box and turn off this option.

Write, draw, or highlight text

The new pen set (available to Office Insiders) is customizable and portable. You define the pens you want to have, and they are then available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

  1. On the Draw tab of the Ribbon, tap a pen or highlighter to select it.

    Pens and highlighters on the Draw tab in Office 2016
  2. Tap again to open the menu of Thickness and Color options for the pen. Select your preferred size and color.

    • There are five pen thickness settings ranging from .25 mm to 3.5 mm. Select a thickness or use the plus or minus sign to make your pen thicker or thinner.

    • Sixteen solid colors are available on the menu, with more available when you tap More Colors.

    • Eight effects are also available: Rainbow, Galaxy, Lava, Ocean, Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

    Color and thickness options for a pen in the Office pen gallery on the Draw tab
  3. On the touch screen, begin writing or drawing.

    Once you have drawn an ink shape, it behaves like any shape that you are used to working with in Office. You can select the shape, then you can move or copy it, change its color, pivot its position, and so on.

  4. To stop inking and select your annotations, either to modify or move them, pick Select The Select button on the Draw tab in PowerPoint on the Draw tab.

Erase ink

  1. Under Draw > Tools, tap the Eraser.

    (In PowerPoint 2016, you can choose from four erasers. Tap the down arrow on the Eraser button to pick the eraser that you want.)

    PowerPoint for Office 365 has four erasers for digital ink.
  2. With your pen or finger, drag the eraser over the ink you want to remove.

    With the Segment Eraser in PowerPoint, you can simply tap a segment of ink or drag across it to remove it (rather than having to thoroughly wipe away the entire segment). Dragging across segments is an easy way to erase several at once.

Some active pens, such as the Surface pen, have an eraser that you can also use to erase digital ink.

Select parts of an ink drawing or written words

All apps include a standard selection tool The Select button on the Draw tab in PowerPoint on the Draw tab of the Ribbon that can select both digital ink drawings and any other kinds objects.

PowerPoint and Excel also have an ink selection tool, Lasso Select, The Lasso Select button on the Draw tab in PowerPoint specifically for selecting objects drawn with ink. It's most useful when you have a mixture of standard and ink objects and you only want to select an ink object.

Applies only to PowerPoint and Excel:

To select part of a drawing or words written in ink, use the Lasso Select tool. (This tool can't select non-ink objects—that is, shapes, pictures, etc.)

  1. Under Draw > Tools on the Ribbon, tap Lasso Select The Lasso Select button on the Draw tab in PowerPoint .

  2. With your pen or finger, drag to draw a circle around the part of the drawing or word that you want to select. A faded, dashed selection region appears around it, and when you're done, the portion you lassoed is selected. Then you can manipulate that object as you wish: move it, change its color, and so on.

    Shows portion of a drawing selected by Lasso Tool in PowerPoint

In both Excel and PowerPoint, with a digital pen, you can select an area without even tapping the selection tool on the ribbon. Use the supported digital pen button to Lasso Select ink without visiting the ribbon. Then you can use the pen to move, resize, or rotate the ink object.

Surface pen, with callouts for eraser, tip, and right-click button

To turn off automatic inking in a desktop app:   

  1. On the File menu, select Options, and then select Advanced.

  2. In the Pen section, select the box next to Use pen to select and interact with content by default.

This setting only applies to the app in which you make it, so, for example you can have automatic inking turned on in Visio and turned off in Word.

Other digital ink features

Feature name

Description

See

Ink Editor

Use touch or a digital pen with Windows digital ink to edit documents

Word logo

Edit your document with natural gestures

Ink to Shape

Convert an ink drawing into a standard Office graphic shape

Word logo PowerPoint logo Excel logo Visio logo

Convert ink to shapes

Ink to Math

Use touch or a digital pen to write a complex math equation, and then convert it to text

Word logo PowerPoint logo

Write, insert, or change an equation

Ink Replay

Replay a series of inking actions on a slide

PowerPoint logo

Replay your ink strokes in Office

Ruler

Draw straight lines in ink, or align a set of objects

PowerPoint logo

Draw straight lines or align things with the ruler

If you aren't an Office 365 subscriber and you have Office 2016 or Office 2013, read on to see what inking features are available to you.

Find the drawing tools

Go to the Review tab and select Start Inking to display the Ink Tools and Pens tab.

Shows the Start Inking button on the Review tab in Office

Write or draw

  1. Under Ink Tools >Pens choose Pen.

    Shows the Pen button in Ink Tools in Office

  2. To change the ink color and stroke width, point to the color and width (0.35mm - 0.5mm) you want.

    Shows Pen style options in Office

  3. On the touch screen, begin writing or drawing.

    Shows an example of Inked words in a Word document

Highlight text

  1. Under Ink Tools, on the Pens tab, click Highlighter, and then pick a highlight color.

    Shows Highlighter button in Ink Tools

  2. Point and drag your pen or finger over the text that you want to highlight.

    You can highlight text in Excel, Word, and Outlook, but PowerPoint doesn't support highlighting text.

Delete whole written words or ink drawings

  1. Under Ink Tools, on the Pens tab, click the arrow below Eraser, and then pick an eraser size.

    Shows Eraser button in Ink Tools in Office

  2. With your pen or finger, select the word or ink drawing that you want to erase.

Extra features in PowerPoint

Select parts of an ink drawing or written words (PowerPoint only)

To select part of a drawing or some written words, use the Lasso tool. (You cannot use the Lasso tool to select non-ink objects (shapes, pictures, etc.).

  1. Under Ink Tools, on the Pens tab, click Lasso Select.

    Shows Lasso Select button in Ink Tools

  2. With your pen or finger, drag to draw a circle around the part of the drawing or word that you want to select. A faded, dashed selection region appears around it, and when you're done, the portion you lassoed will be selected.

    Shows portion of a drawing selected by Lasso Tool in PowerPoint

Delete parts of an ink drawing or parts of written words (PowerPoint only)

  1. Under Ink Tools, on the Pens tab, click the arrow below Eraser, and then pick an eraser size.

    Shows Eraser button in Ink Tools in Office
  2. With your pen or finger, select parts of the ink drawing or text that you want to erase.

Convert ink drawings to shapes (PowerPoint only)

You can convert ink drawings on a touch screen into common shapes.

  1. Under Ink Tools > Pens, select Convert to Shapes.

    Shows the Convert to Shapes button in Ink Tools

  2. With a pen or your finger, draw a shape on the slide, and PowerPoint automatically converts your drawing to the shape that looks most like it.

    To stop converting shapes, click Convert to Shapes again.

Which shapes can PowerPoint convert?

When you create an ink drawing, PowerPoint can convert it to the shape that is most like it.

Ink drawing

Corresponding shape

Rectangle

A rectangle drawn with ink

Rectangle

A normal rectangle

Square

A ink drawing of a square

Rectangle with all sides equal

A normal square

Diamond

An ink drawing of a diamond

Diamond

A normal diamond

Parallelogram

A ink drawing of a parallelogram

Parallelogram

A normal parallelogram

Trapezoid

A ink drawing of a trapezoid

Trapezoid

A normal trapezoid

Irregular quadrilateral

A ink drawing of a quadrilateral

Closed freeform shape with four sides

A normal quadrilateral

Regular pentagon

A ink drawing of a pentagon

Pentagon with all sides equal

A normal pentagon

Regular hexagon

A ink drawing of a hexagon

Hexagon with all sides equal

A normal hexagon

Ellipse

A ink drawing of an ellipse

Ellipse

A normal ellipse

Circle

A ink drawing of a circle

Ellipse with shape height and width equal

A normal circle

Single-headed arrow

An ink drawing of an arrow

Arrow

A normal arrow

Double-headed arrow

An ink drawing of a double-headed arrow

Double arrow

A normal double-headed arrow

Arrows connecting two shapes

A line connecting two shapes

Arrow connectors

A connector between two shapes

Right triangle

A ink drawing of a right triangle

Triangle with right angle

A normal right triangle

Equilateral triangle

A ink drawing of an equilateral triangle

Triangle with all sides equal

A normal equilateral triangle

Isosceles triangle

A ink drawing of a isosceles triangle

Triangle with two equal sides

A normal isosceles triangle

Irregular triangle

A ink drawing of a scalene triangle

Closed freeform with three sides. A normal scalene triangle

For more information about using Office with Windows touch devices, see the following:

Basic inking tools

Word for iOS, Excel for iPad, and PowerPoint 2016 for iOS all come with basic inking options on the Draw tab: a selection tool, a draw-with-touch tool, a stroke eraser, pens, ink colors and a color wheel, and ink thickness options:

Basic inking tools on the Draw tab in Office mobile apps

Draw or write

By default, Draw with Mouse or Touch (or "Inking mode") is turned on when you are using a mobile device. Just tap the Draw tab, select a pen The Pen selector on the Draw tab in PowerPoint for mobile devices , and you can begin drawing ink on a slide.

To keep from causing accidental marks when your hand touches the screen, turn off the option to Draw With Touch.

The Apple Pencil is sensitive to pressure, which allows you to vary line thickness. It's also sensitive to tilt, which allows you to create shading, as you can with a tilted lead pencil.

Select

On an iOS device, Inking mode is turned on when you have selected a pen or highlighter on the Draw tab. Otherwise, you are in Select mode, and you can tap to select an object.

(If you're using an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro device, you can make Select mode the default by going to app settings.)

PowerPoint and Excel have an ink selection tool, Lasso Select, The Lasso Select tool in Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile specifically for selecting objects drawn with ink. It's most useful when you have a mixture of standard and ink objects on a slide and you only want to select an ink object.

To select part of a drawing or words written in ink in PowerPoint or Excel, use the Lasso Select tool:

  1. On the Draw tab on the Ribbon, tap Lasso Select The Lasso Select tool in Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile .

  2. With your pen or finger, drag to encircle the ink that you want to select.

    A faded, dashed selection region appears as you drag, and when you're done, the portion you've lassoed is selected. Then you can manipulate that object as you wish: move it, copy it, delete it, and so on.

    Shows portion of a drawing selected by Lasso Tool in PowerPoint

Erase

  1. On the Draw tab, tap the Eraser.

    (In PowerPoint, you can choose from three erasers—a stroke eraser, or a small or medium eraser. Tap the down arrow on the Eraser button to pick the eraser that you want.)

  2. Drag the eraser over the ink you want to remove.

Convert ink drawings to standard shapes in PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, you can convert ink drawings on a touch screen into common shapes:

  1. Ensure that Draw with Mouse or Touch Draw with Mouse or Touch is turned on.

  2. Tap Ink to Shapes The Ink to Shape button in PowerPoint Mobile

  3. With a pen or your finger, draw a shape on the slide. When you finish drawing, PowerPoint automatically converts your drawing to the shape that looks most like it.

    To stop converting shapes, tap Ink to Shapes again.

Basic inking tools

Word for Android, Excel for Android, and PowerPoint for Android all come with basic inking options on the Draw tab: a selection tool, a draw-with-touch tool, a stroke eraser, pens, ink colors and a color wheel, and ink thickness options:

Basic inking tools on the Draw tab in Office mobile apps

Draw or write

By default, Draw with Mouse or Touch (or "Inking mode") is turned on when you are using a mobile device. Just tap the Draw tab, select a pen The Pen selector on the Draw tab in PowerPoint for mobile devices , and you can begin drawing ink on a slide.

Select

On an Android device, Inking mode is turned on when you have selected a pen or highlighter on the Draw tab. Otherwise, you are in Select mode, and you can tap to select an object.

PowerPoint and Excel have an ink selection tool, Lasso Select, The Lasso Select tool in Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile specifically for selecting ink drawings. It's most useful when you have a mixture of standard and ink objects and you only want to select an ink object.

To select part of a drawing or words written in ink in PowerPoint or Excel, use the Lasso Select tool.

  1. On the Draw tab on the Ribbon, tap Lasso Select The Lasso Select tool in Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile .

  2. With your pen or finger, drag to encircle the ink that you want to select.

    A faded, dashed selection region appears as you drag, and when you're done, the portion you've lassoed is selected. Then you can manipulate that object as you wish: move it, copy it, delete it, and so on.

    Shows portion of a drawing selected by Lasso Tool in PowerPoint

Erase

  1. On the Draw tab, tap the Eraser.

    (In PowerPoint, you can choose from three erasers—a stroke eraser, or a small or medium eraser. Tap the down arrow on the Eraser button to pick the eraser that you want.)

  2. Drag the eraser over the ink you want to remove.

Some active pens, such as the Surface pen, have an eraser that you can also use to erase digital ink without having to select an eraser from the Ribbon.

Convert ink drawings to standard shapes in PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, you can convert ink drawings on a touch screen into common shapes:

  1. Ensure that Draw with Mouse or Touch Draw with Mouse or Touch is turned on.

  2. Tap Ink to Shapes The Ink to Shape button in PowerPoint Mobile

  3. With a pen or your finger, draw a shape on the slide. When you finish drawing, PowerPoint automatically converts your drawing to the shape that looks most like it.

    To stop converting shapes, tap Ink to Shapes again.

Basic inking tools

Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and PowerPoint Mobile all come with basic inking options on the Draw tab: a selection tool, a draw-with-touch tool, a stroke eraser, pens, ink colors and a color wheel, and ink thickness options:

Basic tools on the Draw tab in Office Mobile for Windows 10

Draw or write

By default, Draw with Touch (or "Inking mode") is turned on when you are using a mobile device. Just tap the Draw tab, tap a pen, and you can begin drawing ink on a slide.

The Draw tab in Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and PowerPoint Mobile for Windows 10 is similar to the desktop versions of each app. Before you can use the drawing features, be sure to update to the latest version of Windows 10. To do this, select the Windows button in the lower-left corner of your screen, and select Settings > Update & security > Windows Update. Click Check for updates to get the latest updates.

Select

To switch out of Inking mode on PowerPoint Mobile (so that you can select and interact with objects), tap Select The Select button on the Draw tab in PowerPoint on the Draw tab.

PowerPoint Mobile and Excel Mobile also include a free-form selection tool, The Lasso Select tool in Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile , specifically for selecting objects drawn with ink. It's most useful when you have a mixture of standard and ink objects and you only want to select an ink object.

To select part of a drawing or words written in ink in PowerPoint or Excel:

  1. On the Draw tab on the Ribbon, tap Lasso Select The Lasso Select tool in Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile .

  2. With your pen or finger, drag to encircle the ink that you want to select.

    A faded, dashed selection region appears as you drag, and when you're done, the portion you've lassoed is selected. Then you can manipulate that object as you wish: move it, copy it, delete it, and so on.

    Shows portion of a drawing selected by Lasso Tool in PowerPoint

Erase

  1. On the Draw tab, tap the Eraser.

    (In PowerPoint, you can choose from three erasers—a stroke eraser, or a small or medium eraser. Tap the down arrow on the Eraser button to pick the eraser that you want.)

  2. Drag the eraser over the ink you want to remove.

Convert ink drawings to standard shapes in PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, you can convert ink drawings on a touch screen into common shapes:

  1. Ensure that Draw with Mouse or Touch Draw with Mouse or Touch is turned on.

  2. Tap Ink to Shapes The Ink to Shape button in PowerPoint Mobile

  3. With a pen or your finger, draw a shape on the slide. When you finish drawing, PowerPoint automatically converts your drawing to the shape that looks most like it.

    To stop converting shapes, tap Ink to Shapes again.

Open the Draw tab on Windows 10 Mobile phones

Here's how to see the Draw tab in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on Windows 10 Mobile phones.

  1. Select the More button Shows the More button in Office Mobile in the lower-right corner of the screen.

  2. Pick the Draw tab.

    Shows the Draw tab selected in Office Mobile.
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