Microsoft Word How-to: Working With Images

word logoFirst and foremost, you have to remember that Word is a word processor, which means that it was designed to create documents primarily made up of text. It was not designed as a page layout program, where you are trying to create image-intensive documents like brochures or flyers. Microsoft would like you to use Publisher for that, unfortunately that never really caught on and most people don't even know they have it.

Anybody having anything to do with the publishing business wouldn't be caught dead using Publisher (myself included), preferring to stick with Quark, PageMaker or InDesign. There are two problems with page layout programs - the good ones are expensive, and they all have a pretty steep learning curve (even the cheap or free ones are hard to use). So most times we attempt to do this with Word, because that is what we know and it is what we have.

Also, many times all we really want to do is to place an image on the document and get it to stick where we want it, and get the text to wrap around it in a certain way. The good news is that this is now a fairly simple exercise, using the Advanced Layout options available for images in Word.

The examples shown here are of Microsoft Word 2003 running on Microsoft Windows XP. The screens and menu locations may be considerably different on different versions of Word running on different operating systems.

So, let's assume that we want to create a document on the red fox, for no other reason than I saw one the other day on the way to work. Being the lazy person I am, for the purpose of this example I'm going to copy some information about the red fox verbatim from Wikipedia, 'the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit'. This is a great resource, by the way, and a terrific way to waste time, learn stuff, and even share any unique knowledge you may posess. Also, for you kids (and some adults) out there, don't plagiarize, big brother is watching. But I digress...

I'm going to start by using copy and paste to copy the text from Wikipedia into my Word document:


word image layout 01


Now, we want to insert an image of a red fox into our document. I know that there are a lot of people out there that will shutter when I suggest the next step, but I'm going to use the on-line clip art provided by Microsoft to find an image. So select Insert -> Picture -> Clip art from the main menu:


word image layout 02


When you do that you should get the Clip art task pane showing up on the right side of the window. The first thing you might notice here, if you haven't looked at Clip art offerings from Microsoft lately, is that you have many more options than just clip art. Enter the word 'fox' into the search box, and click 'Go'. Because we left it to give us all available options, we also get any available photos, movies and sounds:


word image layout 03


I am going to select a photo for this document. To get this inserted first place your cursor approximately where you want the image to end up by clicking once in the document. Then move your mouse over the image you would like to insert. When you do you will see a bar appear on the right side of the image, click on this to see the available options:


word image layout 04


Select insert and wait for a little while for the image to download (mileage will vary depending on your connection speed). The insert function is the default click event, so you really don't need to select the drop down list, you can just click anywhere on the image thumbnail to have it inserted into your document. After a few seconds you should have something that looks like this (depending on where you had your cursor placed):


word image layout 05


I will usually now close down the task pane by clicking on the small black cross in its upper right corner, just because it takes up too much room in the window. Now that we've got the image in the document we need to be able to get it where we want it and the text wrapping around it. In this case I would like it in the right side of the document. To do this you need to select the image by clicking on it once, then right click and select 'Format Picture' from the pop up menu (or you can just double-click anywhere on the image):


word image layout 06


You will get a dialog box with multiple option tabs. Select the tab labeled 'Layout'. You will notice that the Wrapping style defaults to 'In Line with text', which gives us the least amount of flexibility:


word image layout 07


Instead, click on the box labeled 'Square' to select it. When you do you will see that the Horizontal alignment below will now become available. Select 'Right', then click on the Advanced button:


word image layout 08


The Advanced Layout pop up gives you a tremendous amount of control over the exact placement of the image, and how the text flows around, through, under or over it. The best way to learn these features is to just experiment with them, the purpose of this tutorial is to just let you know that it is there and how to get to it. So I'm going to leave this set at the defaults, and just click on OK in the Advanced Layout form, then OK again on the Format Picture form. This will leave me with the image on the right side of the document, with the text wrapping around it:


word image layout 09


The final thing I want to do here is to make the image a little bit smaller. So I'm going to place my mouse over the resize box in the upper left corner of the image until the mouse cursor turns into a two-sided arrow:


word image layout 10


Then I'm going to drag down and to the right to reduce the size of the image:


word image layout 11


That's it. The best way to figure out what looks best for your document is to get enough text entered so that you've got something to work with, then place the image using the Format Picture and Advance Layout options.