Microsoft Ink enables you to write and draw on the screen on your iPad

Microsoft wants you to draw with ink on your iPad and Android phone and tablet. Ink is a hot new technology from the Redmond company and it is now in the Word, OneNote and other Office apps.

Ink or inking is the term Microsoft uses for pen input. Using a pen (or even just the tip of your finger) to draw on the screen. The idea is that you can annotate things, highlight text, jot down notes, draw diagrams and suggest corrections.

You don’t draw on the screen with a real pen and ink of course, the pen is just a stylus, which is sharper version of your finger. It may or may not have buttons for accessing additional functions. It is hard to be accurate when drawing or writing with a big fat finger, but it is easy with a pen in your hand.

Ink is an important new feature in Windows 10 and it enables you to draw on web pages and highlight text in the Edge browser using a pen or your finger. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update has a brand new Windows Ink Workspace feature that provides access to Sticky Notes, Screen Sketch and Sketchpad.

This same feature has been ported over to the Office apps for the iPad, and Android will follow. It enables you to draw on Office documents, such as in Word, using a pen or your finger.

Use ink in Word

Make sure you have the latest version of the Word app on your iPad (the iPhone will get this feature later). Load a document or create a new blank document.

Select the Draw tab at the top and a toolbar appears just below. At the right is a switch, Draw with Touch. Turn it on and then select either the pen or the highlighter marker at the left side.

 Use inking in the Word app on the iPad 

Pick a colour

There are four colours to choose from and a special button that displays a comprehensive colour palette. This semi-circular control can be spun left and right to access any of the thousands of colours and shades.

Use inking in the Word app on the iPad

Draw and highlight

Now just draw and write on the screen. You might want to write notes on a document to highlight changes that need to be made, such as replacing text, changing images, what’s good or bad about it, and so on.

 Use inking in the Word app on the iPad 

If this is something you sometimes need to do, being able to do it on the screen instead of having to print it out first, or save the screen as a screenshot and load it into a paint program, is a useful time saver.

Notes on OneNote

We have looked at OneNote before and saw how to use OneNote photo and font features. Now OneNote and other Office apps have the same Draw tab and drawing tools. You can create a blank note and simply write and draw on it with your finger or a pen, or you can load an existing note and draw on that, perhaps to highlight items, or to add extra handwritten notes.

Use inking in the OneNote app on the iPad

For now, I could only find this feature on iPad apps, but Microsoft says it is coming to iPhone and Android, so look out for it in a coming app update.

This is not a feature I have ever wanted or needed, but the fact that Microsoft is putting it in Windows, in iOS and Android apps indicates that the company thinks it is an important and useful feature that lots of people want.

Is inking something you do? Is this a feature you have been wanting in Microsoft Office apps? Tell us in the comments below.