MS Word

Make Your Pictures Look Right

I have trouble making pictures fit into my documents. There are so many steps for inserting pictures, with hidden formatting issues. How do I put a picture where I want it without messing up the entire document? Some pictures have even just disappeared!

Inserting a picture in a document shouldn't be too much of a chore: choose Insert » Picture » From File and take it from there. Here are the six key points about positioning pictures:

  • Word can put pictures either in line with the text or in the drawing layer (discussed in the next bulleted paragraph). A picture that's in line with the text moves the text around it. You can specify whether a picture is in line or not by right-clicking it, choosing Format Picture, clicking the Layout tab, and choosing "In line with text," "Square," or "Tight" to put the picture in line or "Behind text" or "In front of text" to put the picture in the drawing layer.

  • The drawing layer is inaccurately named. It's actually a stack of sublayers, so you can put one picture or other graphical object on top of another. This can be useful for creating visual effects, but it can also explain why pictures sometimes disappearsomething else is on top of them and blocking the view. You can rearrange the layers of objects by right-clicking a visible object and choosing the appropriate command from the Order submenufor example, Send Backward or Bring in Front of Text.

  • The drawing layer extends both in front of and behind the text layer, so you can put graphics behind the text or in front of it if you want.

  • Pictures can be positioned either relative to a text object (for example, a paragraph) or relative to the page. To specify precise positioning, click the Advanced button on the Layout tab of the Format Picture dialog box and work on the Picture Position tab.

  • The easiest way to resize a picture is by clicking it in the document and then dragging its sizing handles. For precise sizing, use the Size tab of the Format Picture dialog box.

  • The basic way of putting a picture into a document is to insert it. This makes Word store all the picture information, so if you send the document to somebody else, the picture will be in the document. This is handy, but it increases the document's size. To keep down the size of a document (especially one that contains many pictures), you can link the picture instead of inserting it. The document then stores only a link to the picture and reads the picture in from the picture file. If the picture file is moved, or if you send the document to someone who can't access the picture file, the picture doesn't appear. Word also offers a hybrid option: insert the picture and link it back to its source. Word then uses the linked picture when it's available, which is useful for making the document show the latest picture available, and falls back on the inserted picture when the link is not available. To insert (or insert and link) a picture, click the arrow by the Insert button and choose the appropriate command from the pop-up menu.