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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Select an image by clicking on it, then click Insert. You can select several images before clicking the Insert button.
Microsoft Word automatically includes the image attribution and license details as a caption.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Type in the amount you wish to rotate the object, then click OK.
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.
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.
Click away from the picture to apply the new shape.
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.
From here, choose the color, weight, and dash style you wish to use for the border.
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.
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.
Use the tools provided to select which parts of the image you wish to keep and which parts you want to remove.
The parts that'll be removed are colored pink.
When you’re happy with the selection, click Keep Changes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gain more control by going to Picture Format > Wrap Text.
Select one of the text wrapping options:
- Square - wraps text around the picture in a square shape
- Tight - wraps text following the shape of the picture
- Through - shows text through all the “open” parts of the picture (may only be visible with certain picture shapes)
- Top and Bottom - wraps text only above and below the picture
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.
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.