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How to Use the Ink Features in Microsoft Office

An fountain pen on a computer keyboard.
Carlo Zolesio/

If you like to scribble your words, shapes, or equations, you can use Microsoft Office’s ink features to convert those items. With Ink to Text, Ink to Shape, and Ink to Math, you can turn your doodles into useable elements.

Another handy ink feature is Ink Replay. With it, you can replay the drawings from start to finish. This is convenient for documents, spreadsheets, or slides full of handwritten markups that you want to decipher.

Microsoft Office’s Ink Features

You can use Ink to Shape, Ink to Math, and Ink Replay in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. PowerPoint also offers an extra tool called Ink to Text. Each feature works slightly differently than another and differently in PowerPoint versus Word and Excel.

The ink features are available in versions of Microsoft Office including 2016 and later along with Microsoft 365 on Windows and Mac. The Ink Replay feature, however, is only available to Microsoft 365 subscribers.

Use Ink to Shape

With the Ink to Shape tool, you can draw a shape, connector line, or arrow and convert it to Office’s graphical equivalent for a nice and neat appearance.

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Word and Excel

Head to your document or spreadsheet and go to the Draw tab. Select “Ink to Shape” in the Convert section of the ribbon.

Ink to Shape on the Draw tab in Word

Warning: Be sure you select the button to enable the feature before you draw your shape.

Choose a drawing tool and draw the shape. You should immediately see it converted to Office’s equivalent.


Unlike Word and Excel, you do not select the Ink to Shape button before you draw your shape. Instead, draw the shape first.

Next, use either the Select or Lasso tool to select the shape. Then click either the Ink to Shape button in the ribbon or the icon on the top right of the drawing.

Ink to Shape for the selected shape in PowerPoint

If your converted shape doesn’t look quite right, select the three dots that display after you convert it. You can then choose a different shape.

Suggestions for a converted shape in PowerPoint

Use Ink to Math

With Ink to Math, you can draw your equation and then convert the numbers and symbols to Office’s equivalents, similar to the Ink to Shape feature. For more details on using this Ink Equation Editor, check out our full tutorial.

RELATED: How to Use the Ink Equation Feature in Office 2016 to Write Equations

Word and Excel

On the Draw tab, select “Ink to Math” in the Convert section of the ribbon. Draw your equation in the Write Math Here area.

Ink to Math on the Draw tab in Word

If everything looks correct, click “Insert” to pop the equation into your document or spreadsheet. If you need to make corrections before inserting it, use the Erase or Select and Correct tools in the window.


In PowerPoint, you can use the same equation editor described above or draw your equation right on the side and then convert it.

To use the editor, head to the Draw tab, click the Ink to Math drop-down arrow, and pick “Open Ink Equation Editor.” You can then use it to draw your equation and make any corrections as needed.

To convert your equation instead, use a drawing tool to draw it on the slide. Then, pick either the Select or Lasso tool to select the equation.

Click the Ink to Math button in the ribbon or the icon on the top right of the equation to convert it.

Like the above Ink to Shape feature, select the three dots on the top right of the equation if it appears incorrectly and you’d like to see the suggestions.

Use Ink to Text

As mentioned, the Ink to Text feature is currently only available in PowerPoint. And it works similarly to the other ink features.

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Go to the Draw tab and use a tool to scribble your title, subtitle, or other text. Use the Lasso tool to select the text.

Lasso to select text in PowerPoint

Click the Ink to Text button in the ribbon or the icon on the top right of the text to convert it.

Ink to Text for the selected text in PowerPoint

Like the other ink features, select the three dots on the top right of the text to see additional suggestions.

Suggestions for converted text in PowerPoint

Use Ink Replay

Ink Replay is one of those features you’ll appreciate if you have a document, spreadsheet, or slide containing a lot of markups like circles, arrows, and text. You simply click the button and watch as each drawing appears as it was originally drawn.

Note: You cannot use Ink Replay after you’ve converted ink to a shape, math, or text.

Go to the Draw tab and select “Ink Replay” in the Replay section of the ribbon. 

Ink Replay on the Draw tab in PowerPoint

You do not have to select anything first. The feature then plays all drawings like a video for you to watch.

You can use the playback bar at the bottom to play, pause, rewind, and forward the replay. But you can also use it to move through the replay slowly. Simply move the dot on the slider yourself instead of using the play button.

Use the Ink Replay slider to slow the replay

Note: You cannot use Ink Replay as a presentation video in PowerPoint. It’s only available in the editing mode you use to create your slideshow. However, as a work-around, you could record your screen while in editing mode and then insert the video in the presentation.

If you like to draw shapes, scribble equations, or jot down text, you can easily convert these items so that they appear nicely in your Office documents using the ink features. Give them a try!

The 6 Best Graphics Tablets

Wacom Intuos Small Graphics Drawing Tablet, Portable For Teachers, Students And Creators, 4 Customizable ExpressKeys 4096 Pressure Sensitive Pen, Compatible With Chromebook Mac OS Android And Windows

HUION Inspiroy H640P Graphics Drawing Tablet with Battery-Free Stylus 8192 Pressure Sensitivity 6 Customized Hot Keys, Digital Pen Tablet for Linux, Mac, Windows PC and Android

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HUION H420 USB Graphics Drawing Tablet Board Kit

HUION Inspiroy Ink H320M Graphics Drawing Tablet, Dual-Purpose LCD Writing Tablet 8192 Pen Pressure Battery-Free Stylus Tilt Function Android Supported with Sleeve Bag (Coral Red)

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