Working With Images in Microsoft Word

Learn how to open, edit, compress, and more

A person photo editing on a computer with coffee
lechatnoir / Getty Images

There's a lot you can do with images in Microsoft Word — insert photos, edit them, compress them, and insert captions to better explain the pictures.

After you've inserted images into Word, position them anywhere you like to really customize the layout of your document. Not only that, you can describe to Word exactly how a text should behave when in contact with your images, like have it seamlessly wrap around the photo.

All of these steps are relevant for Word for Office365 and Word 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010. Follow along if you're using Microsoft Word Online, but for these steps to work for you, disable the Simplified Ribbon option. Take note of any minor differences between these versions throughout these steps.

How to Insert Pictures Into Word

The easiest method to insert a picture is to drag the photo from its folder directly into the Word document. However, the customary method is to use Word's Insert menu.

  1. Click Insert.

  2. Select Pictures or Picture (Word 2010). If you're using Word Online, click Picture or Online Pictures instead.

  3. Click the image to insert into the document. Insert several images simultaneously into a Word document by selecting all of them at once.

  4. Click Insert or Open.

    Insert Picture

How to Edit a Picture's Size in Word

Ideally, you should format your picture in a photo editing program, but you can also use Microsoft Word to do some simple editing. To resize a photo in Word, click it once and then drag a corner box in or out to make the picture smaller or larger.

If you need more precision, use the Format Picture dialog box.

  1. Right-click the image then click Size and Position.

  2. In the Size tab of the Layout dialog box, change the values in the Height and Width boxes to adjust the size of the image (in inches).

    Another way to change the height and width is to do so by percentage. Change the Scale values to do something like make the image 75 percent of the size it was, or 120 percent, etc. Enable Lock aspect ratio to ensure that the height and width remain proportional.

    layout box in word
  3. Click OK.

How to Compress an Image in Word

If you want to use Word to edit photos, or if you frequently include images in your Word document, you should familiarize yourself with the compression options. Compressing Word photos will help you limit the file size of documents that contain images.

You can't compress images in Word Online.

  1. Click the picture you want to compress.

    If you want to compress more than one image in Word, you still need to click a photo to enable the options below.

  2. Open the Picture Format tab in the menu if it isn't already open.

  3. Click Compress Pictures from the Adjust area of the menu.

    If you don't see that button, look for the small box with four arrows pointing inward.

    compress picture box in word
  4. Pick a compression option:

    • Click Apply only to this picture if you want to compress only the image you've selected. Uncheck this option to compress all the photos in the Word document.
    • Click Delete cropped areas of pictures to have Word remove any parts of the images that you've previously cropped. Word doesn't actually delete the cropped areas but instead hides them so that you can always go back and undo the crop. With this option enabled, you save space because the excess cropped pieces are permanently removed.
  5. Pick a resolution or target output option:

    Depending on your version of MS Word, you might see HD (330 ppi), Print (220 ppi), Screen (150 ppi), Web (150 ppi), or E-mail (96 ppi). Pick one to force Word to save the pictures with a specific number of pixels per inch, which indicates the picture quality. If you're not sure what to select, choose Use default resolution or Use document resolution.

  6. Click OK.

How to Edit Picture Layout in Word

Word provides a variety of options for changing the layout of your pictures. For example, you can have the text wrap around the photo or you can insert the picture inline with the document text.

Click the image, then open the Layout menu or the Format menu (Word 2013 and 2010). Of interest are two icons in the Arrange group, for Position and Wrap Text. These buttons open fly-out menus that allow for more precise placement of both the image and the content that surrounds it.

Word Online users can only customize the wrap text options, not the image layout. This adjustment appears in the Format > Wrap Text menu.

How to Add a Caption to a Photo in Word

Image captions in Word

A caption clarifies your picture to readers. It can be used to attribute the photo to a specific source or to help reference a picture in another part of the document.

Captions are not supported in Microsoft Word Online.

To add a caption, right-click the image and click Insert Caption. In the dialog box, type the caption in the box, then add a relevant label or position using the drop-down options. Use the Numbering button to configure automatic captioning based on a specific number style, or in light of chapter divisions.

Edit the caption at any time by highlighting the text and typing something new.