Annotating an Image in Microsoft Word

How to add arrows and text

Learn how to annotate photos in Word

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If your Word document has images, add annotations to make images easier to understand. Adding annotations to these images directs your audience to a specific area of the graphic, and you can add text descriptions, too. Annotating images also helps you create professional presentations and documents for work and school. Here's how to add annotations to images in a Word document.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Microsoft 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.

Get Started With Annotations

To annotate an image in Word, insert the image in a document, then draw a shape over the image.

  1. Go to the Insert tab and select Pictures.

    To find and download a picture from the internet, select Online Pictures and search for an image.

    Microsoft Word with the Insert and Pictures options highlighted
  2. In the Insert Picture dialog box, select the file folder that contains the image.

    Screenshot of Insert Picture dialog box
  3. Choose the image, then select Insert.

    Insert Image box in Word with the Insert button highlighted
  4. Select the image in the document, go to the Insert tab, then choose Shapes.

    Microsoft Word with the Shapes menu highlighted
  5. Choose one of the Callout balloon shapes. The cursor turns into a plus sign.

    Insert Shapes menu in Microsoft Word with the Callouts section highlighted
  6. Drag across the image to create the shape in the position and size you want.

    Microsoft Word with an annotation highlighted
  7. Select the shape and enter the annotated text.

Basic Themes and Customization of Appearance

To customize the formatting of the text (such as the font, font size, and font style), highlighting the text and select an option from the mini toolbar. Use settings on the Home tab to make other formatting changes to the annotated text.

You can also customize the fill and outline colors. To change the fill color, hover over the edge of the annotation balloon shape so it turns into a crosshair symbol, then right-click and choose Fill.

Microsoft Word with the Format Shape menu highlighted

Choose the color you want (Theme or Standard). Or, to choose a custom color, select More Fill Colors. Then, experiment with different features such as Gradient, Texture, and Picture.

Screenshot of Fill Color options

To change the outline color, right-click the edge of the annotation balloon shape and choosing Outline. Then, choose a color (Theme or Standard), No Outline, or Select Outline Colors for more color options. Change the weight of the solid line or turn it into dashes.

Format Shape menu in Word with the Outline option highlighted

Reposition and Resize Annotations

To reposition the annotation balloon shape, hover over the edge of the shape so that the cursor turns into a crosshair, then drag the annotation balloon shape to a new location.

You may need to relocate the annotation balloon arrow as well. Hover over the annotation balloon shape to display the crosshair, select the annotation balloon, then move the cursor over the diamond-shaped handle so the cursor turns into an arrow. Drag the handle to relocate it.

You can use the other handles to resize the annotation balloon shape. Hover over a handle to turn it into a double-ended arrow, then drag the resize handle.

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