Formatting Tips: Images in Microsoft Word

Formatting Tips from Dog-ear Book Design

In this series, we explore common techniques for formatting manuscripts in Microsoft Word for print and e-book conversion.


When using Microsoft Word to format for e-book conversion, working with images in Microsoft Word is not difficult, but there’s some things you need to know.

How to properly place images in Microsoft Word
Images in Microsoft Word need to be placed ‘in-line’ with the text, meaning that the image stays with the text when it reflows. If the image is not placed in-line with the text then the converter software may move the image to the end of the text, typically at the end of a chapter.

The best way to ensure that your image is placed inline with the text is to use Insert > Photo > Picture from File

Cutting and pasting from the clipboard may or may not place the image in-line. You can check by attempting to move the image by clicking on it and dragging while the mouse button is depressed. If the image moves, it is not placed in-line and needs to be fixed before uploading your MS Word file for conversion.

Apply center justification to the image or apply a style with a style that has center justification.

Editing images in Microsoft Word
If you crop, resize or otherwise edit images in Microsoft Word, keep in mind that you may need to redo these edits in an image editing program and re-insert the images before uploading the file for conversion. Not all conversion software will recognize edits made to images within MS Word.

If you are working with newer versions of MS Word (I use Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac), you can right-click on the edited image, and save the edits to a new file using the Save As Picture function. Then re-insert the new image. A great shortcut.

Creating images in Microsoft Word
If you use Smart Art in MS Word to create charts, etc. for your e-book, use the Save As Picture function to save your art as a JPG or PNG file and replace in your file using the steps above.

Tip: Using Word Art to create stylized text is not recommended. In MS Word 2011 for Mac, there is no way to have the software save this as a JPG or PNG file. If you are comfortable, you can try taking a screen shot of the artwork created, using a graphics program to crop the image and convert it to JPG or PNG format.

If you are working with newer versions of MS Word (I use Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac), you can right-click on the edited image, and save the edits to a new file using the Save As Picture function. Then re-insert the new image. A great shortcut.

File types and file naming
Microsoft Word is more versatile with image formats than most conversion programs. Best to stick with JPG for images and PNG for text. Make sure that the files you insert are JPG or PNG files to begin with. If you have other formats, open them in an image editor and resave them to JPG or PNG format before you insert them.

Because the converter is going to turn your MS Word file into XHTML code, it’s a good idea to make sure none of your file names have spaces, including the file names of your images. Remove spaces altogether or use underscore characters instead. This is not necessary for all converter programs, but it’s good habit to get into.

Tip: In the past I have noticed issues with PNG files not displaying after conversion. It’s always a good idea to check your converted file. If you find your PNG files are not displaying, convert them to JPG and reinsert the images.

Some other things to keep in mind
Converters (and current reflowable ebook formats for that matter) do not like text appearing over top of images. Converters also do not like text boxes. If text appearing over top of an image is crucial to your ebook design, then add the text in the image file with an image editing program. Just keep in mind that the text added is no longer considered text, so the text now added to your image will not scale with the rest of your text.

I hope you found this helps you in prepping your manuscript for e-book conversion.

Have a question or a tip? Have another formatting question you would like to see covered here? Don’t be shy. Leave a comment below, ’cause I love comments!

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