How to work with images in Word 2016 (Part 1)

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Strictly speaking, Word is a wordprocessor not a graphics application. Neverthelss, it does offer a small, but functional range of tools for do-it-yourselfers. So whether you’re an Indie creating a cookbook of favourite recipes, a student putting together a thesis, or simply someone with a report to write that includes a lot of graphics, this series of posts is for you.

Changing Word defaults

As mentioned in the introduction, Word is primarily a wordprocessor. More importantly, it is a wordprocessor for business applications, so it automatically reduces image quality in order to provide the best overall result for business documents. To control the quality of the images in your document, you have to change two of the Word defaults: image compression and image resolution. Both of these settings can be found in File/Options.

To begin, open your manuscript in Word and click the blue File tab on the Ribbon.

Select ‘Options’ from the navigation pane on the left:

Word now displays the Options dialog box:

  1. Click Advanced to display the Advanced options on the right hand side of the dialog box. Scroll down until you see ‘Image Size and Quality’.
  2. Tick the box next to ‘Do not compress images in file’.
  3. Next, click the small arrow next to ‘Default resolution’. This will display a drop down list.
  4. Select the option for ‘High Fidelity’ as shown in the screenshot above.
  5. Click the OK button to exit the Options dialog box.

Now, when you add an image to your document, you will be in control of the quality of the image.

Inserting an image

If you are working with images, chances are you already know how to insert an image into a Word document. Still, it doesn’t hurt to cover the basics so this is how you place an image in a document.

Click the cursor at the location where you want the image to go [roughly].

Click Insert on the Ribbon and select the ‘Picture’ option:

Note: the ‘Picture’ option is for images saved to your computer. ‘Online Pictures’ allows you to search the internet for pictures and paste them directly into your document. Quite apart from copyright issues, ‘Online Pictures’ is not a good option because you can’t control the size or quality of the image you import into your document.

Locate the required image on your computer and select it.

Word will automatically resize large images to fit the space available. It will also place the image ‘In Line with Text’. This is the default ‘Wrap Text’ setting, and it will ‘lock’ the image to the text at that location.

Wrap Text Settings

The ‘Wrap Text’ settings determine how the image will interact with the text. If you leave ‘In Line with Text’ as the setting, you will be able to change the size of the image, but you will not be able to move it.

There are two ways of changing the ‘Wrap Text’ settings of an image. The first is via the Ribbon. The second is via the small icon displayed next to the image.

Wrap Text via the Ribbon

Click an image to select it.

This will open the Picture Tools/Format menu:

The available ‘Wrap Text’ settings show ‘In Line with Text’ at the top of the list. Next to each setting is an icon that represents the function of that particular setting. The same icons are shown on the mini menu available next to each image.

The Wrap Text mini menu

When you select an image, it is displayed with ‘handles’ around the outside and a small icon to the right:

Click that icon to display the mini menu of ‘Wrap Text’ settings.

The mini menu displays the same icons as the ‘WrapText’ option on the Ribbon, but it does not label those icons so it’s only useful once you know what each icon represents.

The Wrap Text Icons

In Line with Text

This is the default option for each new image. It does not allow the image to move freely.

Square, Tight & Through

These three options make the text flow around the image on four sides. There are minor variations, but the image will look as if it’s ‘boxed’ in by the text.

Note: click-hold-and-drag the image to position it horizontally in the paragraph from the far left through to the far right.

Top & Bottom

This option pushes the text above and below the image, like bread in a ‘sandwich’.

Note: the image is locked to the paragraph that comes before it. If text is deleted above this paragraph, and there is not enough room for both paragraph and image to ‘move up’, neither will, resulting in a gap on the page. To fix: reduce the image size or change the text wrapping.

Behind Text

This option allows the image to become the background with the text sitting on top of it.

Note: the image can be hard to select if you need to do any editing.

In Front of Text

This option allows the image to float over the top of the text. It will also obscure any text beneath it.

To select any of the ‘Wrap Text’ options, simply click the icon that represents the setting you wish to use.

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

16 responses to “How to work with images in Word 2016 (Part 1)

  • Adding captions to pictures in Word 16 | Meeka's Mind

    […] Next, check that the text wrapping of the image is not ‘In Line with Text’. If it is, change it to another option. [See Wrap Text options]. […]


  • Editing images in Word 16 [Part 2] | Meeka's Mind

    […] on how you originally inserted your image into Word, changing the page setup of your document may mean that you also have to re-align the image on the […]


  • TABLE OF CONTENTS | Meeka's Mind

    […] Word 16 image compression, image resolution and Wrap Text settings […]


  • Chuck

    I have Microsoft Word for the Mac version 16.17. With my subscription to Office 365, it should be the lastest. Your instructions must work for the PC version because I can not find the advanced settings following your directions. However, it could be me and I’m missing something. I do want to change my settings for images to High Fidelity. If you have a hint, I would appreciate it.


    • acflory

      Hi Chuck. Microsoft rarely takes anything away, even from major version change to version change so I’m sure it must be there somewhere.
      Unfortunately, I have no idea how Word has been ported to the MAC. Could you possibly take a screenshot of the point at which the instructions stop working? i.e. can you find the ‘Options’ dialog box or its equivalent?


      • Chuck

        HI Meeka,
        Thank you for your response. I’m not sure if it is the Mac version that is different or the PC version you are using. I have attached four screenshots but I’m not sure if they will transfer. I went to file as you instructed, then Word preferences, web options, finally pictures. However, I think this is the option for inserting files from the internet. Perhaps that is the same thing. In any case, I appreciate the information and your patience.

        Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 4.09.21 PM.png
        Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 4.11.08 PM.png
        Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 4.14.23 PM.png
        Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 4.14.42 PM.png


        • acflory

          Sorry, Chuck, I can’t open the screenshots. 😦 I did do a little research though, and it seems that the MAC version, or perhaps the MAC plus 365 version is different. I’m not positive about this but from what I could gather, there isn’t an option to adjust image compression. 😦
          Given that the MAC is famous for its graphics, I’m truly baffled.
          All I can suggest is to go onto a MAC forum and ask there. I wish I could help more. :/

          Liked by 1 person

          • Chuck

            Thank you for your advice and the information you shared. I’m a power user with Microsoft Word and Excel (at least I was before I retired). All the new updates do keep me on my toes attempting to do the same things with the new versions. Most of the time it is easier than before.


          • acflory

            Yeah, it’s a constant learning curve. I’ve found though that it’s mostly just the user interface that changes. /Most/ of the time, if you know what used to be there, it’s just a case of digging around until you find it again. Kind of annoying but hey.
            I am curious though. Is there much benefit to be had by using Word on a MAC?
            I ask because I haven’t used one in …hell, 30 years?


  • Audrey Driscoll

    I wondered what all those icons did. Thanks for explaining them! I actually managed to add small images (“glyphs”) to the Word doc I used for the print version of She Who Comes Forth. That’s the thing about print books — you can make them more artistic than ebooks. (Of course, the formatting is trickier too).


  • Scottie

    Thank you Meeka. I have been putting clip art in word templates for decades. I never understood why things worked they way they do until you explained it. Be well. Hugs


  • Dhawal Joshi

    That’s some really good info!

    Liked by 1 person

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