How do I change the size of a picture in Word?

How do I change the size of a picture in Word?

My first digital camera came as a freebie with a new computer sometime around 1998. The photos from it were 640×480 pixels which meant that they were little more than thumbnails if you tried to print them at a print resolution of 300dpi. Nowadays even fairly basic phones can beat that so it’s highly likely that when you try to paste a photograph into a page of text it isn’t going to fit at first and you’ll end up with something like this:

Small paragraph on one page; large off-centre picture on the next, text continues on the third

A picture that you wanted to be an illustration taking up a whole page by itself and wonky on it too!

Ever since I first started using Word, I’ve been finding ways of getting pictures and text to sit together exactly the way I want them to: first as a teacher making worksheets then doing layout for community magazines. But before you can begin to think about getting an image into the right place on a page, you need to make it roughly the right size so you can see how the text will fit around it — and that’s what this post is all about.

Note on versions of Word

I’m working in Word 2013, which has significant improvements to picture handling, but I have included what to do in Word 2010 where this is different (the same instructions are good for Word 2007). If you are using an earlier version of Word then some of the things now on the ribbon were on the picture toolbar and most of the methods that go through a right-click menu will also work, although the exact appearance of some of the menus will vary.

How do I make the picture fit the space I have available?

There are two things you can do to make a picture take up less space on the page and it is important to be aware of the differences between them.

  • When you resize a picture, you basically squash it so it looks the same but fits in a smaller space.
  • When you crop a picture you are effectively trimming some off, part of it disappears from view.

In the case of the picture above, we’re not even seeing all of it. Can you see little white boxes in the middle of two of the edges and at one of the corners? These are called handles, and we’ll be using them in a moment to re-size the picture. For now, though, the ones on the bottom and on the right-hand side don’t show because they, and some of the picture, are off the edge of the page.

How do I resize a picture?

Using the handles

The easiest way is to hover over a handle at one corner of the picture. A double-headed diagonal arrow appears.

Simply click on this and drag the corner of the picture inwards. As you do, you will see a black box showing you the new outline or / and, depending on the original size and how much working memory your computer has available, the resized picture. (The arrow turns to a black cross in Word 2013 when you start to drag it, don’t worry about this.)

When you let go, your new, smaller picture is in place.

Warning: don’t try this with one of the handles in the middle of an edge unless you want to want to squish or spaghettify your image. (OK then – try it once, just to see what I mean.)

Using the Picture Tools|Format ribbon

In ribbon versions of Word, when you click on a picture a new ribbon appears and, right at the end of it is a group called Size. The two boxes on the right show you the height and width of the image. You can change these using the little arrows. Notice that, as you change one the other changes automatically (although the change may not show until you stop using the arrows).

Picture Tools Format ribbon, Size group for cropping and resizing

If you want to make a big change it can take a while to scroll through a millimetre at a time. Instead, you can click in one of the boxes to highlight the measurement, type in your new value (no need to type ‘cm’ or ‘ cm’, Word knows you’re working in the same unit) and press Enter. The other will magically change to match and your picture will appear at its new size.

Using the right click menu

If you right click on the picture (you might have to do it twice in Word 2013), one of the items on the menu which pops up is Size and Position. If you select this you get this box (If it doesn’t look like this, it’s probably opened with the Position tab open – just click on Size at the top):

More Layout Options Size tab - allows you to see Original size and change Height, Width, Rotate, Scale

Just as on the ribbon controls, you can scroll through alternative sizes or type in new values for height and width. You also have the option of making the lengths a certain percentage of the original values.

Make sure that Lock Aspect Ratio stays ticked so that the height and width keep changing together.

How do I crop a picture?

You’ll have already spotted that Crop command on the Picture Tools|Format ribbon. The down arrow takes you to all sorts of interesting possibilities, but we’re going to do a simple crop which you can get just by selecting your picture then clicking on the icon, or selecting Crop from the little menu that comes up when you press the arrow. (In Word 2003 you need to have the picture toolbar showing, select your picture and then click the crop icon.)

When you do this, thick black crop marks appear at the corners and edges of the picture.

Crop marks at edge of picture

As with using handles for resizing, simply click on these and drag them inwards. The bit of the picture that will remain stays bright and the bits that are going to be lost go grey.

Picture with area to be cropped greyed out, section to be kept inside crop marks

When you are happy with what you have, simply click somewhere else in the document and only the cropped bit will remain.

You can also crop pictures by using the right click menu to go to Format Picture and choosing options from there, but it involves typing in where you want to crop from, and how much, using numbers. Again, depending on the size of the picture and the amount of working memory your computer has available, you may be able to see what’s happening to the picture as you change the figures, but it’s still not as straightforward as using the crop marks.

Picture cropped and resized so that all the text and the picture fit on to a single page

How do I make pictures go where I want them?

So now the picture is a reasonable size to fit on one page with the words, but the page doesn’t look very good. The picture is stuck randomly in the middle of the text and there’s a huge white space. I’ve written a post about one way of making the picture nestle in amongst the words over on Liz Dexter’s LibroEditing blog, and next week I’ll show you a way of dealing with a lot of pictures in a single document.


3 thoughts on “How do I change the size of a picture in Word?

  1. Pingback: How do I make pictures go where I want them to in Word? Combining Words and Pictures 1 | LibroEditing proofreading, editing, writing

  2. Pingback: How do I organise a lot of pictures on a page? | C A Fitzsimons

  3. Pingback: How do I stop pictures jumping around when I edit a Word document? Combining words and pictures 2 | LibroEditing proofreading, editing, writing

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