Today and next week we have guest posts from Catherine Fitzsimons on placing images in Word documents. This is a tricky topic and one I’ve been wanting to write about for ages: Catherine does a lot of work with newsletters and other complex documents, which makes her the ideal person to write these posts for me!
How do I combine text and pictures?
Have you ever tried to put a picture in Word and found your text, which started at the top of the page, suddenly moves down? And then, as you type more, or change the size of the picture* to make it fit better, things move to unexpected places? Or the picture stays where it is, but leaves you lots of blank space on the page? Then, when you try to move it around, things only get worse and you end up with something like this:
This is because Word assumes two things:
- That you want the picture (or, to be precise, the bottom left of it) to be placed where the cursor is. That means it goes immediately after the last thing you typed before choosing Insert|Picture and, when you try to move it, you can see a vertical line where it believes you want it to go.
- That you would like the text to run right up to the picture and carry on straight after it.
In other words Word treats your picture like an outsize character and refers to this option as having the picture ‘In Line with Text’.
However, you can change your picture to what is known as a ‘floating figure’ so you can put it where you like but, before we delve into all that, have a look at a handy shortcut in the ribbon versions of Word. If you select your picture, go to the Picture Tools|Format ribbon that appears and click the down arrow by Position, you will get a choice of nine places to place your picture without any fiddling around at all.
In fact, in Word 2013 some of these appear in a little pop-up menu that you can call up by clicking the thing that looks like a rainbow drawn on lined paper which hovers at the top right of a picture when you select it.
All wonderful, but what if you need more flexibility? Read on.
Once again, select the picture and go to the Picture Tools|Format ribbon but this time click the down arrow by Wrap Text. (Alternatively, or in older versions of Word, right click on the picture and choose Wrap Text from the menu that appears.)
Doing that brings up another menu which lets you choose the relationship between your text and picture. The icons helpfully explain the options:
Square means that the text will wrap all the way around your picture (strictly speaking around the ‘bounding box’ – the rectangle that appears when you select it). When you move the picture around the page the text flows above, below and to the sides – or one side if you put your picture up against a margin. Notice, though, that it doesn’t make text down the sides into columns – it reads across the picture. (If you want your picture in the middle of a page like this, it’s probably best to make your text into two columns first.)
Top and Bottom does exactly that. It looks just the same as if you had typed Enter before and after inserting your picture but with the important difference that the picture moves as an object, not a character, so it’s easy to place it somewhere new.
Tight only works with images which are not rectangular or, like some clip-art, have a transparent background. It wraps the text around the edges of the image (assuming these ‘wrap points’ have been defined) rather than around the bounding box.
Through is a complicated one and I don’t know anyone who has used it. It works the same way as Tight except that it will also put words right down into any transparent sections of the picture that are linked to the background, again, providing that the wrap points have been set up properly.
Behind Text makes the words go over the top of your picture (which can work well so long as the image isn’t too detailed or too similar in colour to the font), whereas In Front of Text means that non-transparent parts of your image obliterate the words. Why might you want to do that? If you insert a an ellipse that has Shape Fill as ‘No Fill’ and Shape Outline red, and float it in front of text then you have a useful little shape for circling things you want to highlight.
You can refine Square, Tight and Through further in Picture Tools|Format|Wrap Text|More Layout Options. As you can see, you can tell Word to put text on one side of the picture only – Left, Right or whichever has the most space for text. This is also the window you use if you want to make your text squish up closer to your picture — if it already has a lot of white space around it for example — or back off a bit if the words run right to the edge of your picture. Unsurprisingly, you can also adjust the spacing above and below for Top and Bottom wrapping.
So, that’s the official way to put the pictures into the correct place in your document. And, more often than not, it works. However if you are adding more than one image, or later add a text box or table (anything that Word calls an ‘object’), or if you revise what you have written then pictures you’ve put in sometimes jump around or even disappear. You can minimise the chances of that happening by typing all your text before thinking about layout and images but, even then, it still sometimes happens. I’ll explain why, and suggest how to stop it next week.
*But how do I change the size of a picture? See How do I change the size of a picture in Word? on my own blog.
Catherine Fitzsimons has the unenviable job of being my own editor for my books on business and other careers topics. Ever since she first started using Word she has been finding ways of getting pictures and text to sit together exactly the way she wants: first as a teacher making worksheets then doing layout for community magazines.
Other useful posts
On this blog:
On Catherine’s blog: