Your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations cry out for great images--a creative company logo, compelling charts, and luscious photos. Microsoft's Office applications have cool tools for using images in your documents, but these features aren't immediately obvious.
In this article, I’ll share some tips and tricks for dressing up images in your Office work, from replacing Excel chart columns with stacked images, to creating a simple one-click image animation in PowerPoint, to making circle and heart-shaped images in Microsoft Word.
These instructions are designed for Office 2010, but earlier editions of Office have similar tools.
1. Tame Word's Bad Image Behavior
Word 2010 includes the new graphics engine that Excel 2007 and PowerPoint 2007 had, but Word 2007 did not.
Annoyingly, however, Word continues to insert images as "in line with text"--the one setting you'll probably never want to use unless you're inserting an image into a table cell. This setting makes images behave like text characters so they don’t move around the page properly. You can rotate the images, but the text doesn’t wrap around them properly, so you'll have to change the image wrap setting before you can continue.
Rather than configuring the wrap setting for each individual image, I suggest that you change the Word setting that controls how images are inserted. To do this, before you insert an image, choose File, Options, Advanced. From the Cut, Copy, and Paste options, locate Insert/Paste Picture As and set it to anything except 'In line with text'. I recommend the Square option as a good choice. Next, click OK.
In the future, when you insert an image into a Word document, text will wrap around the image neatly. You can change this, if necessary, for a particular image, but most of the time this is the exact setting you'll want.
If you prefer, you can change the settings for each individual image after you have inserted it into your document. To do this, click the image to select it, choose Picture Tools, Format, and then click the Wrap Text dropdown list. From here you can select a wrapping option; again, Square is a good choice.
2. Insert Images into a Circle, a Heart, or Any Shape
You can create an image embedded in nearly any kind of shape in Microsoft Word. To see this feature at work, choose Insert, Shapes and select a shape--say, the ellipse. Hold the Shift key as you do this, to draw a perfect circle. Once you've selected the shape, the Drawing Tools tab appears. From the Format tab, select Shape Fill, Picture; select a picture to use; and click Insert. You can do this with any built-in shape. You can also create your own custom shapes by using the Curve or Freeform tools and then fill them with images, too.
If your image looks out of proportion inside the shape, select the shape, right-click it, and choose Format Shape. Click the Crop option and, if your image is stretched so that everything is taller than it should be, increase the Picture Position: Width setting. Likewise, if the image is stretched so that it is wider than it should be, increase the Picture Position: Height setting. If you increase both the Width setting and the Height setting, you can adjust the position of the image in the shape by using the Offset options. Deselect Rotate with Shape if you want the image to remain horizontal even if you rotate the shape.
Click one of the Fill options in the 'Picture or texture fill area' to alter the image transparency inside the shape.
3. Wrap Text Around or Through an Image
When you have an image's wrap set to Square or to Tight, the text will wrap around the image. As most images are rectangular, the wrap will be a rectangle too, but you can change this if you wish. Select the image, choose Picture Tools, Format, and then select Wrap Text, Edit Wrap Points.
By adjusting the nodes that control how text wraps around the image, you can set text to flow across the image or keep it away from the image edge on one or more sides. To add more nodes, click and drag anywhere on the line. To remove a node, hold down the Control key and click the node.
When you’re done, click outside the marquee area to make the handles disappear. To apply the same feature to a shape filled with an image, select the shape, choose Drawing Tools, Format, and then select Edit Shape, Edit Points.