Handling pictures in Word

Pictures can test your mettle when placing them in Word, especially when placing them in large book-size documents. In fact, Word will behave badly when pictures are introduced into large documents, and therefore it is best to leave them out, or only use a few. Nevertheless, smaller documents will handle pictures okay if you are aware of the layout options. Don’t expect to simply insert a picture and be done with it. You will need to determine how the surrounding text is to be treated in relation to the picture.

Firstly, the size of the picture when you initially insert it will be determined by the number of kilobytes/megabytes of the digital picture file. A 50kb picture will be quite small while a 2mb picture may take up more space than you want. The good news is that you can resize the picture to whatever you require, but a small file will lose quality if enlarged. A large picture file can be reduced without loss of resolution quality. You will hear talk about the pixels in a picture being a recommended minimum of 300 X 300 pixels. Don’t worry too much about this as the volume (kilobytes to megabytes) will indicate whether a picture has a low or high resolution on an A4 page. You can find this when you right click on the picture file (usually a jpg or png) in its folder location on the computer. A menu will appear with Properties listed at the bottom. Click on properties to find the volume size of the file.

Once your picture is inserted on the page, click on it to show the adjustment handles at its corners and at the centre of each side. When you wave your mouse arrow over the corners or the centre handles, the arrow will change to a two-way arrow indicating that you can drag the handles in either direction to adjust the size of the picture on the page. This is achieved by holding down the left mouse button and moving it out or in to resize. If you left click on any other part of the picture, you will get a four-way arrow, indicating that you can move the entire picture to wherever you need it.

When your picture is sized and positioned, you will then have to choose what to do about the surrounding text. Do you want the picture to take up the whole space without text on either side or do you want text to wrap around it or over/under the picture? All these options are available. Click on the picture again and you will see a curved symbol with horizontal lines to the top right side of the picture. Click on the symbol to reveal a menu of options for handling text in relation to the picture. Try each option to see how it affects the picture then choose the one you want. You will also see options to move the picture with the text or fix the picture in its position on the page. You may want the picture to stay at the top of the page regardless of the text, and therefore you will choose the second option. If you need the picture to stay with the text because of its direct relation to the picture, you choose the first option. At the bottom of this menu there are also the words ‘see more’ to access more options such as placing text to only one side or the other of the picture.

Right clicking on the picture will reveal another menu with options that include cropping the picture, formatting the picture (add shadows, special effects etc.), inserting a caption, and moving the picture forward or backwards when overlapping other pictures. You can also make corrections in the picture when you click on the formatting option, which brings up a format pane on the right side of your screen.

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