More from my own editor, Catherine Fitzsimons, creator of educational materials and community magazines, on the tricky task of controlling how images behave in Word documents …
Last week, we looked at the ways in which Word can wrap text around pictures. To control how close the text is to the edge of a picture we opened the More Layout Options window from the right click menu. You may have noticed there are two other tabs in this:
One lets you control the size of your picture, but there are easier ways to do that (see How do I change the size of pictures in Word? on my website). The other, Position, provides some detailed options for controlling where your pictures go and is the key to stopping them from jumping around. It looks complicated, but I don’t think I’ve ever, in years of creating worksheets and doing magazine layout, had to resort to changing anything in the sections labelled ‘Horizontal’ and ‘Vertical’ – I’ve just used the ‘Options’ section.
Before we go on to that though have a look at the ‘Allow overlap’ button. This is useful if you want to get two pictures closer together than their boundary boxes would otherwise allow. For example, here you can see that although the books themselves don’t overlap, the boxes round them do. Notice also how the Tight-wrapped text goes inside the boxes because these images have a transparent background.
Why do pictures move? How do I stop pictures moving?
Basically, pictures can either be locked in position on the page or moved around with the text.
In Word 2013 ‘Move with text’ and ‘Fix position on page’ appear as options on the Wrap Text menu and on the little pop out Layout Options menu (so long as your picture isn’t in line with the text).
In earlier versions you have to go into More Layout Options|Position and check or uncheck ‘Move object with text’ – it’s checked as default. If you have a picture exactly where you want it on a page, all you have to do is uncheck the box (or make the appropriate selection from one of the menus in Word 2013). That picture will then stay exactly where it is when you edit or add to the text or insert another picture – it will move only if you grab it and place it somewhere else yourself (or play with the numbers in the ‘Position’ tab of More Layout Options).
Allowing pictures to move with text is a little more complicated and depends on understanding the idea of anchors.
When you whizz a picture around the page, Word makes a decision about what text to tie it to: it generates an ‘anchor’, usually at the beginning of the paragraph nearest to the top left corner of the figure (working up). If you then move or delete that bit of text, the image will move or be deleted with it — that’s why pictures sometimes vanish unexpectedly. They usually jump because an anchor and its picture have to be on the same page. That means that if you type an extra paragraph and the anchor moves to a new page, the picture will jump to that new page too. It’s Word trying to be helpful, aiming to keep pictures and the writing about them together, but it does feel pretty random if you don’t know the logic.
Word 2013 helpfully shows you the anchors whenever you’re clicked on a picture, but it is possible to see them in earlier versions: since they are formatting marks, they will show up if you click the symbol that looks like a backwards P in the Paragraph group on the Home ribbon. If you can see them, they can help you work out why a picture won’t go where you want it or keeps disappearing altogether.
In Word 2010 or 2007 you can also get the anchor marks to show all the time (without the other formatting marks) by going to File (Office button in 2007)|Options|Display|Always show these formatting marks on the screen, then ticking ‘Object anchors’ and OK.
Once you get the hang of how the wrapping styles and the anchors affect where the pictures go, it becomes much easier to put a picture in the right place and make it stay there. Here’s the order I suggest for creating a document that has words and pictures:
- Write and type all the text first (or work a page or two at a time).
- If possible, get the pictures as close as you can to how you want them (size, resolution, cropping, colours) before you add them to your text – either use image editing software or get it right in a blank document then copy and paste into the one you’re working on.
- Once you have a picture where you want it, with the right sort of size and wrapping, consider locking it in place.
- If a picture that has to stay with the text appears to be misbehaving, go in search of its anchor to track down the problem.
Still can’t get the pictures where you want?
If you’re creating something with a lot of images, or need more complex layout — such as for a brochure or worksheet — then there are alternatives to putting the text and pictures straight into the document. I explain how to use a table to combine text and pictures in How do I organise a lot of pictures on a page? over on my own blog where, in future posts, I will look at alternative solutions, and other issues to do with using pictures.
Other useful posts
On this blog:
On Catherine’s blog: