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How to Quickly Add, Move, and Format Pictures in Microsoft Word

Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:

More than ever, pictures are critical to the effectiveness of your communication materials. With the image formatting and layout tools in Microsoft Word, it’s possible to add and manipulate pictures in your document—even if you’re a beginner.

Image for Word
Add, move, and format pictures in Word so you can communicate more effectively. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Starting with a Microsoft Word template makes it even easier. With a well-designed Word template, the positioning and formatting of pictures have already been done for you. All you've got to do is to drag your pictures into the image placeholders. 

Even if you’re using a template for Word, it’s good to know how to format pictures so you can make your document look exactly the way you want it to.

In this article, you’re going to see, step-by-step, how to work with pictures in Microsoft Word.

(Note: The screenshots below show Microsoft Word for Mac. The screens and steps may be slightly different if you’re using a different version of Word.)

How to Insert a Picture in Word

To add a picture to a Word document, click Insert > Pictures. From here, you've got three options:

1. Photo Browser

If you choose this option, you’ll be able to select an image from the existing photo sets on your computer. On a Mac, that includes photos in iPhoto and Photo Booth. When you find the picture you want to use, click on it, then drag it into the document.

Insert Picture in Word - Photo Browser
Use the Photo Browser to move a picture into Word.

2. Picture From File

This option lets you insert an image from another location on your computer. Find the image file, select it, then click Insert.

Insert Picture in Word - from File
Insert a picture from your computer in Word.

3. Online Pictures

Insert pictures in Word from the web by selecting Online Pictures…. This opens a Bing image search right inside your document. Type a keyword or phrase in the search bar.

Insert Picture in Word - Online Pictures
Move images into Word from the web. Be careful to follow copyright laws.

By default, the Creative Commons only filter is checked. Keep this selected to make sure you don’t violate any copyright laws. Click on the filter icon to filter the image results by other parameters. 

Filter Online Pictures - Microsoft Word
Use the Word Online Pictures option to find filter images from the Internet.

Select an image by clicking on it, then click Insert. You can select several images before clicking the Insert button. 

Insert Several Images at Once in Microsoft Word
You can select several pictures to add to a Word document.

Microsoft Word automatically includes the image attribution and license details as a caption.

Image Attribution and License Details - Microsoft Word
Word includes the image attribution and license details.

Note: While you can import many image formats into Word, the ones that work best are JPG and PNG.

How to Format Pictures in Word

After importing pictures into Word, you can apply different formatting settings to each Microsoft Word picture and control its appearance. Below are some of the most basic image formatting you can apply in Word:

1. Resize an Image

Resize a picture in two ways:

Resizing Method 1

Click on the picture. Press and hold the Shift key, then click and drag one of the sizing handles either towards or away from the center. 

Use the sizing handles to resize an image
Use the sizing handles to resize an image. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Holding the Shift key ensures that the proportion of the picture is retained. Otherwise, it would become distorted and your entire document will look amateurish. 

Resizing Method 2

This method allows you to resize the picture to a specific length or width. Click on the picture, then click on the Picture Format tab. Type the length or width you wish the image to have.

How to Resize Pictures in Word
Use the Picture Format tab to resize an image. (Image source: Envato Elements)

By default, the original proportion of the image is retained even when you change either the length or width of the image. Keep this checked to avoid distorting the image.

2. Rotate or Flip Images

To rotate an image, do so either manually or by a specific amount.

Manual Image Rotation

To rotate an image manually, click on the image to select it. Click on the rotation handle and drag it in the direction you want. 

Rotate Image in Microsoft Word
You can also rotate an image. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Flip or Rotate an Image By a Specific Amount

Rotate a picture by a specific amount. Click on the picture, then go to Picture Format > Rotate. From here, you've got the option to:

  • Rotate Right 90°
  • Rotate Left 90°
  • Flip Vertical
  • Flip Horizontal
  • Select More Rotation Options

To rotate a picture to an exact angle, choose Select More Rotation Options.

Microsoft Word - More Rotation Options
MS Word has several rotation options.

Type in the amount you wish to rotate the object, then click OK.

Microsoft Word - Rotate Picture by a Specific Angle
Define exactly how much you want to rotate an image.

How to Crop Photos in Word

If you're wondering how to crop a picture in Microsoft Word, it's not difficult. Follow the steps below to not only crop an image, but also to dress it up by cropping it to a shape or adding decorative borders:

1. Basic Image Cropping

To crop a picture, select the picture, then go to Picture Format > Crop > Crop

How to Crop a Picture in Microsoft Word
The cropping handles in MS Word are black. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Black cropping handles appear on the sides of the picture. From here:

  • Crop one side. Drag one side handle inward.
  • Crop two adjacent sides at the same time. Drag one corner inward.

Click outside the image to apply the crop.

2. Crop Image to a Shape

To crop the picture to a specific shape, select the picture. Go to Picture Format > Crop > Crop to Shape. Select a shape from the selection that appears.

How to Crop a Picture to a Shape in Microsoft Word
 Choose from many different shapes. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Click away from the picture to apply the new shape.

Picture Cropped to Cloud Shape in Word
It's easy to crop an image to a shape in Microsoft Word (Image source: Envato Elements)

3. Frames and Borders

Borders are an easy way to dress up a picture in Microsoft Word. To add a border, select the picture, go to Picture Format. Click on the Picture Border button on the ribbon to reveal the border options.

How to Add a Border to an Image in Word
Another way to dress up a cropped image is by applying a border. (Image source: Envato Elements)

From here, choose the color, weight, and dash style you wish to use for the border. 

Microsoft Word - Border Dashes and Lines
Select the border color, weight, and style. (Image source: Envato Elements)

To add a frame, click on the picture, then go to Picture Format. Click on the Picture Quick Styles button on the ribbon. Select the border you want to use.

Picture Quick Styles in Microsoft Word - Frames
 Add a Frame to an image. (Image source: Envato Elements)

How to Use Image Editing Tools

There are many Word image editing tools. Learn how to format pictures in Word by removing the background or adjusting the brightness. Here's how:

1. Remove Background

Microsoft Word allows you to remove the background from your pictures. This feature works best if the color of the background is distinct from the colors on the main subject of the picture.

To remove the background, select the image. Go to Picture Format > Remove Background.

How to Remove Image Background in Word
Use the Remove Background option to change or remove the background of an image. (Image Source: Envato Elements)

Use the tools provided to select which parts of the image you wish to keep and which parts you want to remove.

Removing the Background of a Picture in Word
The pink-colored part of the image will be removed. (Image source: Envato Elements)

The parts that'll be removed are colored pink.

When you’re happy with the selection, click Keep Changes.

Picture with Background Removed in Microsoft Word
Here's the finished image with the background removed. (Image source: Envato Elements)

2. Sharpness and Brightness Corrections 

Improve the sharpness and brightness of your pictures in Microsoft Word. To adjust these, select the picture. Go to Picture Format > Corrections. Select the sharpness and brightness/contrast settings you wish to use.

Picture Sharpness and Brightness Corrections in Word
Change the image brightness or sharpness. (Image source: Envato Elements)

To more finely control these settings, go to Picture Format > Corrections > Picture Corrections Options. The Format Picture sidebar appears. It allows you to provide specific settings for sharpness, brightness, and contrast.

Picture Corrections Options in Microsoft Word
Use the Format Picture sidebar to define specific settings for sharpness, brightness, and contrast. (Image source: Envato Elements)

3. Picture Color

Microsoft Word also allows you to control the color saturation and tone of your picture. And you can recolor the entire picture for special effects. Select the picture, go to Picture Format > Color. Select any of the options that appear.

Picture Format Color Saturation Tone and Recolor in Microsoft Word
Change the color saturation. (Image source: Envato Elements)

From here choose:

  • More Variations. Recolors the image with a different color from the options provided.
  • Set Transparent Color. Makes certain colors transparent so that the color of the background shows through.
  • Picture Color Options. Opens the Format Picture sidebar, where you can fine-tune the settings for color saturation, tone, and recolor.

How to Use Layout Options 

Microsoft Word’s layout options for images lets you control how photos are displayed alongside text.

By default, a picture is set to be "In line with text." This means the picture is treated as an object that moves with the text. This means whatever formatting is applied to the text applies to the picture as well, which may not be how you want it to appear. When a picture is in line with text, you won’t be able to drag and drop it to a different part of the document.

To set up a picture’s layout options, select the image, then go to Picture Format > Position. Select one of the pre-configured layout options to position your picture on the page.

Picture Format Position in Microsoft Word
Configure the image using the Picture Format options. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Gain more control by going to Picture Format > Wrap Text.

How to Wrap Text Around a Picture in Microsoft Word
Choose various text wrapping options. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Select one of the text wrapping options:

  • Square - wraps text around the picture in a square shape
Wrap Text Square in Word
The Square text wrap option centers the picture in a square. (Image source: Envato Elements)
  • Tight - wraps text following the shape of the picture
Wrap Text Tight - Microsoft Word
The Tight text wrap option follows the shape of the picture. (Image source: Envato Elements)
  • Through - shows text through all the “open” parts of the picture (may only be visible with certain picture shapes)
Wrap Text Through - Microsoft Word
The Through text wrap option allows text to show wherever the picture is open. (Image source: Envato Elements)
  • Top and Bottom - wraps text only above and below the picture
Wrap Text Top and Bottom - Microsoft Word
Here's an example of the Top and Bottom text wrap option. (Image source: Envato Elements)

These text wrapping options allow you to overlay pictures in Word or merge them together into a collage-type layout.

You've got other options:

  • Behind text. Overlays the text in front of the picture
  • In Front of Text. Places text behind the picture, covering it
  • Edit Wrap Boundary. Lets you fine-tune how text wraps around the picture, which is especially useful if it’s irregularly shaped
  • Move with text. Keeps the picture anchored to the text
  • Fix position on page. Keeps the picture on the same position relative to the page, even if the text moves
  • More Layout Options …. Gives you precise control over the picture layout

How to Move Pictures in Word and Arrange them on the Page

You may be wondering how to move a picture in Microsoft Word. The easiest way to move a picture is by clicking and dragging it. If this doesn’t work, the picture is probably set to be inline with text. Follow the instructions above to select a different text wrapping option.

To move multiple images, hold the shift key down as you click on each picture. Then, drag and drop them into place.

You can also move images using precise measurements. Select the image, go to Picture Format > Position > More Layout Options …. Specify the horizontal and vertical position of the picture relative to an element of the page.

Microsoft Word Picture Format More Layout Options
Use More Layout options to change a picture position in Word according to precise measurements. 

Get Creative With Pictures in Word

Use the skills you learned above to add pictures in your Word documents and display them exactly the way you envision. As you’ve seen, it’s easy to control the appearance and placement of images on the page. By following the steps above, you can produce professional-looking documents all by yourself. However, we've only scratched the surface of the many ways you can work with pictures in Word!

Of course, if you prefer to have these design choices made for you, you've got the option to start with a Microsoft Word template. If you make a lot of Word documents, then you’ll like the cost-effectiveness of Envato Elements. You get unlimited downloads of templates as well as fonts, stock photos, and more for one low subscription price. On the other hand, GraphicRiver may be a better option if you only need the one-off template.

This gives you the ultimate convenience because professionally-designed Word templates have image placeholders. All you've got to do is to drag and drop your own pictures into the placeholders. The picture formatting steps in this article will help you fine-tune the image settings as you wish.

Now you, too, can get more creative—and effective—with pictures in Microsoft Word. But first, get your head start by downloading your favorite MS Word Template from Envato Elements or GraphicRiver.

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