Countless Word users have watched in dismay as their carefully placed graphics seem to wander all over the page. Unfortunately, a lot of confusion exists when it comes to getting Word graphics to do what you want in relationship to the text around it.
Most of the confusion comes from the fact that when you insert a graphic by choosing Insert|Picture, by default the graphic is "in line" with the text. That means when you edit the document and change the text, the graphic moves along with the text. When you change the text wrapping, you can change the graphic into a "floating" image so you can position it more precisely.
For example, suppose you have two paragraphs of text in a letter or report. You choose Insert|Picture|From file and you select the lovely sunset shot you want to include. The picture comes in rammed up next the point in the text where your cursor was located and it looks like it has broken the text into two paragraphs. Yuck. That's not what you want.
An inserted image is "inline" with the text.
The trick to making your text wrap nicely around the picture is to choose Format|Picture. It's even easier to just right-click on your graphic and choose Format Picture from the pop-up menu. (Yes, you could make the argument that you're changing the text, but Word considers text wrapping a "picture" control.) In any case, either way, you get to the same dialog box. Click the Layout tab, and you'll see that the "wrapping style" of the picture you just inserted is set to In line with Text. You want to change that to something else.
The text wrapping options with Square selected
Your options include:
- Square: wraps the text in a square around the largest dimensions of the image
- Tight: like square, but the text is closer to the image, so you don't have as much white space.
- Behind Text: puts the image behind the text, so the text runs across it. This is only useful if you're using it for very light images such as watermarks, or if you use the text formatting commands to align the text in such a way that it doesn't overlay the image.
- In front of text: does the opposite of Behind Text. The image actually covers up the text, which is rarely useful.
- In line with text: as noted, this style causes the image move with the text. It's useful for small graphics like warning icons, in a technical manual that you want to float along with the text.
Remember that Square, Tight, Behind text and In front of text all make the graphic float. With a floating graphic, the Alignment commands are also available, so you can position the image using the Left, Center, and Right commands, much like you can do with a paragraph of text.
Look now it floats!
If you click Other in the Horizontal alignment, you can use absolute positioning to place the image precisely on the page horizontally. To access the settings, click the Advanced button. Many of the settings in the Advanced Layout dialog box are available for the other alignments as well, including vertical positioning. The Picture Position tab settings let you control the positioning of the graphic in relation to the paragraph, margins, or the page. So you use these options to keep your floating graphic where you want it both vertically and horizontally.
Picture Position tab
In the Text Wrapping tab of the Advanced Layout dialog box, you'll find two more text wrapping styles you can experiment with.
The Advanced Layout Text Wrapping tab with Top and Bottom selected
Through works somewhat like tight in that the text gets close to the graphic, but in this case, if there's an open space in the picture, the text actually will run through the graphic. The Top and bottom style is a little more useful. With this wrapping style, the text appears above and below the graphic, but none is on either side.
In the Text Wrapping tab of the Advanced Layout dialog box, you also can really get precise about how close the text is to the image by changing the Distance settings and on which sides the text wraps. With certain wrapping styles, some settings will be unavailable and grayed out. For example, you can't set the distance from the image to the text on the Behind text or In front of text styles, since the text isn't wrapping around the image.
Another sort of cool option is to wrap text around part of a picture in an irregular shape. If it's not already showing, shoe the Picture toolbar by choosing View|Toolbars and placing a checkmark next to picture. On the toolbar, click the Text Wrap button. A drop down list appears with Edit Wrap Points at the end. Click that button and you'll find little squares appear around your image. Click to add more edit points and then drag them to adjust how the text wraps.
Adding edit points to adjust the text.
Once you have mastered these picture formatting controls, you'll never wonder what is going on with your graphics again. If your image seems to be doing something odd, just right-click and choose Format Picture to straighten it out.