How to Use Images and Photos in Word

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, but wait 'til you see what Word can do with that picture. We take a look at the application's image tools and how using them lets you add pop to any document.
Posted November 23, 2007

Helen Bradley

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Photos and other images add visual variety to your Word documents. You can use them as decorative features to break up large pieces of text, and they play an important part in delivering your message to your reader. Word offers handy tools for working with images in your documents and, in this article I’ll show you a few ways to use them.

Default screen shot
You can change the way Word inserts new images into a document to make it more user friendly.
(Click for larger image)

Inserting Images
By default, Microsoft Word 2003 inserts images with the default wrapping option set to In Line With Text. The result is that the image is treated like a character within the text. You can't move it around easily, and the text doesn’t wrap neatly around it. It’s very confusing behavior particularly for anyone new to Word, and it stumps many people.

You can change how the image moves and how text wraps around it by clicking the Text Wrapping tool on the Picture toolbar. If the Picture toolbar does not appear when you click a picture, display it manually by choosing View > Toolbars > Picture. Select any option in the list except In Line With Text. For example, selecting Square will wrap the text around the image to its left and right sides and allow you to drag the image around the document.

You can also change how Word inserts images so, if you’d prefer to default to using Square wrapping instead of In Line With Text you can do this. Choose Tools > Options > Edit tab and from the Insert/Paste Pictures As dropdown list, select the option to make your default – for example, select Square.

Picture Toolbar Options
Most of the options for working with pictures are to be found on the Picture toolbar. From left to right the Picture toolbar includes an option for inserting a picture, which you can click to insert a picture from your disk.

Picture toolbar screen shot
The Picture toolbar offers a range of tools for working with images in your documents.
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The Color tool offers Grayscale, Black and White and Washout as options. Grayscale converts the image to shades of gray and black and white converts it to a simple black and white image – of the two options, grayscale gives the best monochromatic results. Washout brightens and lightens the image so it loOKs, well, washed out. You might use this when placing an image behind text so you can still read the text clearly. The Automatic option simply reinstates the image to the color it was when inserted into the document.

Use the More Contrast, Less Contrast, More Brightness and Less Brightness buttons to add or remove contrast and brightness from the image. If desired, you can combine these with the Color options so you can choose Washout and then tweak the result with these Brightness and Contrast tools.

Use the Crop tool to crop away unwanted portions of the image. Select it and drag on a side of the image to crop from that side. You can also ‘crop’ by dragging outward so that if you make a mistake you can drag back out to undo the crop that you have made. If you drag back beyond the edges of the image you can add extra white space around the image with this tool.

The Rotate tool lets you rotate the image around in increments of 90 degrees. Provided you aren’t using the In Line With Text wrapping option the image will also display a green rotate button when selected that you can use to rotate the image to any angle. Use the Line Style tool to add a black or colored border around the image.

Color tool screen shot
There are four alternatives you can choose from with the Color tool on the Picture toolbar.
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The Compress Pictures button lets you permanently delete cropped areas from your images and compress their size for Web or print use. So, if you have inserted a large image from your digital camera and reduced its size in your document, you can save space in your Word file using the Compressed Pictures tool to compress the image to a resolution of 96 dots-per-inch (dpi) for Web use or to 200 dpi for printing. Additionally, if you have cropped the image you can permanently remove the cropped area using this same tool.

The Text Wrapping button lets you control how text wraps around your image. Typically something like Square will be what you need although selecting Behind Text lets you place text over the top of the image. The Edit Wrap Points option in the Text Wrapping menu lets you adjust how text wraps around an image. Click it to see the wrap points and the wrapping shape that surrounds the image.

You can drag on the line to add nodes, which you use to control the shape that text wraps to. So you can, for example, drag the shape in over the image so that text flows across it or drag it out-wards to add more space around the image. This is quite a sophisticated tool, but it's buried where you might not find it easily or know what to do with it.

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