Draw and annotate with ink in Office 2016

The latest update to Office 2016 comes with an exciting new feature optimized for Office users on touch devices. Now you can annotate with ink to make notes, highlight portions of your text, quickly create shapes, or write math equations and have them converted to text on touch devices or pen-enabled devices. And, if you have a pen device that uses an active pen (and not just a stylus), Office will detect when your pen is in range of your screen and you'll start inking automatically.

Notes: This feature is only available if you have an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, make sure you have the latest version of Office.

This feature also requires Windows 10 version 1511 or later.  For help determining which version you are runnning, see Which Windows operating system am I running?. For information about updating, see Windows Update: FAQ.

Annotate from the Draw tab

Your annotation options will vary slightly between Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but you'll see the same set of basic ink options in each app. Here's how to start annotating with ink:

  1. Select the Draw tab on the ribbon.

    Shows the Draw tab in Office 2016 for Windows

  2. Select the ink style you want from the Pens group.

    Shows the Draw Tab in Word 2016 with Pens section highlighted.

    To see more ink options, select the More Shows the "More" icon icon in the Pens group. There, you can select from a wide variety of ink styles, and you can add certain styles to your favorite so they'll always be at the top.

    Shows more ink options in Office 2016 for Windows

  3. Once you've selected your ink options, draw, highlight, or make notes anywhere in your file.

  4. To erase any ink annotations, select Erase.

  5. To stop inking and select your annotations, either to modify or move them, pick Select.

The Draw tab in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint each have slightly different variations and options for ink annotation on the Draw tab.


Shows the Draw tab in Word 2016.


Shows the Draw tab in Excel 2016.


Shows the Draw tab in PowerPoint 2016.

Excel comes with the basics—a selection of ink styles, and the ability to Erase or switch to selecting when you choose Select.

In Word and PowerPoint, the Draw tab comes with an Ink to Math button, which you can use to quickly write out complex math equations and then have them converted to text. You can also insert an ink equation in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint by going to Insert > Equation > Ink Equation.

PowerPoint has four ink erasers available on the ribbon: standard Small and Medium erasers, a stroke eraser, and a segment eraser. Stroke Eraser removes an entire ink stroke with a single touch. Segment Eraser allows for more precise control, erasing ink to where it intersects with another line.

In PowerPoint, you can also convert your ink drawings to Shapes by selecting them and then selecting Convert to Shapes—it's the perfect way to combine the natural feeling of freeform drawing and inking with the uniformity and standardization of Office graphic shapes.

Excel and PowerPoint have Lasso Select The Lasso Select button on the Draw tab in PowerPoint , a free-form tool for selecting ink. Drag with the tool to select a particular area of an ink drawing, and then you can manipulate that object as you wish.

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

Also in PowerPoint, you can replay ink drawings on a slide. Play them forward or backward. This special effect allows you to hide and reveal content on your slides or emphasize individual elements in a group or series. You can see the order in which ink was drawn, pause the replay, and select the point to start the replay from. If you're collaborating with others on a presentation, Ink Replay is a way to provide step-by-step instructions.

If you're using an Office 2016 desktop app and you don't want to be automatically in inking mode when Office detects your active pen or stylus, you can choose to use your pen to select objects by default. Here's how:

To turn off automatic inking in a desktop app
  1. Go to File > Options and select Advanced.

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

You can choose to have this setting turned on or off in each Office app, depending on your preferences.

The Draw tab in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Mobile for Windows 10

The Draw tab in Word, Excel, 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.


Screenshot of the Draw tab in Word Mobile for Windows 10

Word comes with the basics to get you started: eraser, pens types, ink colors, a color wheel to help you hone in on a shade, and ink thickness options.


Screenshot of the Draw tab in Excel Mobile for Windows 10

Excel also comes with basic inking options: eraser, pens types, ink colors, a color wheel, and ink thickness options.


Screenshot of the Draw tab in PowerPoint Mobile for Windows 10

PowerPoint has basic inking options—eraser, pens types, ink colors, a color wheel, and ink thickness options—and also includes a selection tool and the option to convert drawings to shapes.

With a Surface pen, or any other active pen device, you can select an ink object without even tapping the selection tool on the ribbon. Just press and hold the supported button on the pen while drawing to make a selection. Once the selection is made, you can use the pen to move, resize, or rotate the selected ink object.

Inking mode on mobile devices

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.

  • 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.

  • On an iOS or 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.

The Draw tab in Office 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.

Note: Currently, inking in Word on Windows 10 Mobile is only available to Insiders.

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