How to use an Apple Pencil with Office 365's Ink feature on your iPad Pro

Office 365's new Ink feature works with the Apple Pencil so you can make quick markups on an iPad Pro. Learn how to get the most out of this handy feature.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft unveiled the newest version of Office 365 a few months ago, and tucked inside was a new Ink feature that lets iPad Pro users utilize the Apple Pencil to mark up documents, presentations, and spreadsheets with ease. To use this feature, it requires the $99 Apple Pencil accessory and a compatible iPad Pro (currently in two sizes: the 9.7" and 12.9"). We'll show you how to use this new feature on your iPad.

SEE: Photos: Cracking Open the Apple Pencil

Using the highlighter and pen features

To begin using the highlighting feature of the Microsoft Office apps, perform these steps.

  1. Open Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel.
  2. Open a document to edit.
  3. Tap the Draw tab.
  4. Select either the Pen or Highlighter icon in the Draw tab.
  5. With the Apple Pencil paired with the iPad Pro, begin drawing anywhere on the document. The highlighter or pen tool will make marks to mimic the real life tool (Figure A).

Figure A

Drawing in the Microsoft Office apps is just like drawing in any other app on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil.
Image: Cory Bohon/TechRepublic

To keep your finger or hand from pressing the screen and causing accidental marks, disable the option to Draw With Touch when using the Apple Pencil.

Also in the Draw tab, you can select the color using either the standard presets of black, red, blue, or green, or for something more custom, select the color wheel (Figure B). You can increase the line thickness of the drawn portion by tapping the + or - buttons for line thickness. Changing the color or thickness will only alter new items drawn on the screen, and not previously drawn items.

Figure B

The color wheel lets you quickly pick a custom color to use for the Apple Pencil drawings on the screen.
Image: Cory Bohon/TechRepublic


Erasing is as easy as drawing in the Office apps. To erase a drawn line or highlight, follow these steps.

  1. Select the Draw tab.
  2. Select the Eraser tool in the toolbar.
  3. With the Apple Pencil, draw over top of any previously drawn pen mark or highlight.

This will remove any pen markings or highlights in the document. Tapping a single line will erase the entire line, removing the need to erase the entire line by drawing over top of it.

Using shape recognition

Shape recognition is baked right into Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad. It's used to easily create perfect shape renderings when using the Ink feature.

To use this feature, select the pen function, select the color and line thickness, and then trace a circle, oval, square, rectangle, or triangle on the screen with the Apple Pencil. Ensure that the option to Convert To Shapes is selected (Figure C). After a moment, the Office app will convert the roughly-drawn shape into a perfect rendering of the shape you were intending to draw.

Figure C

Ensuring the Convert to Shapes feature is enabled means that the drawings on the screen will be directly translated into shapes once you stop drawing on the screen.
Image: Cory Bohon/TechRepublic

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By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...