Posts Tagged ‘graphics’


Word: Cropping an image

December 12, 2013

Word 2010 has some quite powerful image editing tools. One that’s been around for a long time is ‘Crop’.

You should crop an image when you have:

  • extraneous white space around the image
  • labels, borders, or other information outside the main image that you don’t want to keep.

Note: Cropping will only remove unwanted white space or information from the edges, not from within the image. And it’s NOT permanent – you are cropping what you can see, not cutting it out completely.

Below is an example of a figure added to a Word document. You can see that there’s a little white space above and on the sides of the image (#1, 2, 3), but the main offender is the big blank bit with a date (#4) sitting below the image (I clicked on the image to show the ‘handles’). While you can edit out this big space in graphics software, it’s very quick and easy to do ‘on the fly’ in Word using the cropping tool.


How to crop an image:

  1. Click on the image in Word to select it. The ‘handles’ (see above) show that it’s selected.
  2. On the ribbon, go to the Format tab for Picture Tools.
  3. Click the Crop icon.
  4. The image is now surrounded by black markers at each edge and corner.
  5. Hover your cursor over the black cropping marker of the edge you want to change until it changes to a ‘T’ icon (for the edges) or an ‘L’ icon (for the corners).
  6. Click and drag the cursor in towards the image – as you do so, the area that will be removed by the cropping will be shaded dark grey.
  7. Stop and release the cursor where you want to stop cropping the image.
  8. Repeat steps 5 to 7 for any of the other edges you want to trim down.
  9. When you’re finished cropping, check that the image is as you want it to be. Make any adjustments.
  10. Click the Crop icon again to save your changes.


Note: Word doesn’t delete the unwanted bits of your image—it just hides them. You can always reset your cropping for that image by clicking on it again, then clicking the Crop icon.

[Based on a Writing Tip I wrote for my work colleagues]


Word 2010: Step-by-step SmartArt

February 16, 2011

One of the graphics features that Microsoft really worked on in Word 2007 was SmartArt. It’s been further expanded in Word 2010.

In this mini-tutorial, I’ll show you how to create an image like that below, using Word’s SmartArt. All the images I used came with Windows, and are in the Documents > Sample Pictures folder.

Insert the SmartArt object

  1. Open a new Word 2010 document or go to an empty paragraph in an existing Word 2010 document. (You can do much of this in Word 2007 too, but the available shapes are more limited, and some of the steps may be slightly different.)
  2. Go to the Insert tab, then click the SmartArt button.
  3. On the Choose a SmartArt Graphic window, click Picture on the left, then select Accented Picture — the first one in that group. Note: Even though you choose one of the SmartArt shapes here, your selection isn’t set in stone — you can change it to another shape later.
  4. Click OK. The SmartArt object is added to your document.

Add images and text

  1. In this example, we don’t want any text for the main image (the flowers), so click away from the large text box into the blue rectangular area. The ‘handles’ should be around the rectangle.
  2. Click the image icon in the middle of the large rectangle to open the Insert Picture window.
  3. Navigate to the image you want, select it, then click Insert. I used the Garden image in the Sample Pictures folder.  We’ll get rid of the text later.
  4. Now click on one of the circles, then click the image icon in the middle of it and select an image. Repeat for the other two images.
  5. After adding your images, your SmartArt object should look something like this:
  6. Next, you’ll add text for the images. There are several ways you can do this — you can do one object at a time by clicking [Text] and adding your own words, or you can use the Text Pane window to add them all at once (either click the Text Pane button on the toolbar, or click the blue left/right arrows on the middle left of the SmartArt object’s ‘canvas’).
  7. In this example, I’ve added the words Whales, Turtles and Toucans for each small image. And I entered a space instead of text for the large flower image. Be careful — if you delete the text box for the large image, the image gets deleted too.

Add color and effects

While you may be satisfied with the result so far, there are more things you can do with your SmartArt object.

Some effects that I suggest you experiment with include these on the SmartArt Tools ribbon > Design tab:

  • SmartArt Styles group: Hover over the thumbnail options to see how different effects will look.
  • Layouts group: Hover over the thumbnail options to change the layout of the objects.
  • Right to Left button in the Create Graphic group: Switches the small  images in the circles on the right to the left side of the large image. Click again to go back.
  • Add Shape button in the Create Graphic group: Adds an extra circle to the default set of three. Keep clicking to add even more. To delete a circle, select its text box, then press the Delete key on your keyboard.

On the SmartArt Tools ribbon > Format tab, try these:

  • Shape Fill: Changes the background color of the SmartArt object; in my original example, I used an olive green fill and this is where I applied it.
  • WordArt Styles group: Allows you to change the style of the font, its outline and inner color, and add text effects; in my original example, I added a reflection effect and made the outline and inner sections of the letters the same color.

To change the font size for all text on the SmartArt object, select the entire object, then go to the Home tab and select a font size and font family as you normally would for body text in your document. To change the font size for just one text object, select just that text object and change the font size and family as normal.

Have fun!

A word of warning: If you use the SmartArt objects that are available in Word 2007 and Word 2010 documents, they are very unlikely to be backwards compatible with Word 2003. So if any of your readers, authors etc. are going to open your fancy Word 2010 document in Word 2003, it’s likely all your SmartArt will revert to plain text.


Word 2010: You too can be an artist!

February 15, 2011

I’ve done a couple of posts recently on Word 2010’s improved graphics editing capabilities. They’ve also added another new one — Artistic Effects. By applying an artistic effect to an image, you can turn it into something that resembles a painting, a poster, a pencil drawing etc.

Here’s the original image as inserted into a Word 2010 document (yes, I have an affinity for turtles as I’ve learned a lot about them in the past few years with the work I’ve been doing):

And here’s the same image with some of the artistic effects available in Word 2010 applied:

So how do you get apply these effects?

  1. Insert your image, then click on it to display the Picture Tools ribbon > Format tab.
  2. Click the Artistic Effects button, then hover over an effect to see what it will look like for your image.
  3. Select the effect you want.

See also:

[Link last checked August 2012]


Word 2010: Remove the background from an image

February 14, 2011

Here’s a cool new feature of Word 2010 I’ve just discovered! You can remove the background of an image, leaving only the pertinent parts.

Here’s one of the sample images in Windows inserted into a Word 2010 document:

And here’s the same image after I used the Remove Background tool to take out the background:

So, how did I do it and what are the things to watch out for?

  1. Insert the image into your Word 2010 document (Insert tab > Picture).
  2. Once it’s in, select it to open the Picture Tools toolbar > Format tab.
  3. Click the Remove Background button (at the far left on the Picture Tools > Format tab).
  4. Your image opens with a ‘best guess’ from Word as to what it is you want to keep (the area marked with the white box).
  5. Drag the handles on the white lines to mark the boundaries of the object(s) you want to keep. The objects that will remain are shown in their normal colors. In the example below, I’ve dragged the handles a little and you can see that the turtle and some of the fish will be included.
  6. But what if you don’t want the fish? Then you have to drag the white lines so they just touch the turtle and the fish turn pink. It can be a fine line between including something in the background and not, so you may need to experiment a bit. You can always reset the picture and try again if you don’t get what you want the first time.
  7. When you have finished, click the Keep Changes button to return to the document — your image’s background should be gone.
  8. If you messed up, don’t despair– just click the Reset Picture button and start again.

Other things you can do with the Remove Background picture effects feature:

  • Click the Mark Areas to Keep button, then draw point-to-point lines to outline the part of the image you want to keep. When you’ve finished, click Keep Changes.
  • Click the Mark Areas to Remove button, then draw point-to-point lines to outline the part of the image you want to delete. When you’ve finished, click Keep Changes.

If you make a mistake, click Delete Mark to remove the most recent line you drew, or Discard All Changes to remove all lines.

I’m continually pleasantly surprised by the extra graphics editing capabilities Microsoft is incorporating into Word. Yes, I know Word is fundamentally a text editor, but for people who don’t want to spend big bucks on graphics software OR spend the time learning how to use it, these new features are quick, simple and easy to use — and they come free with Word. For the user who only occasionally needs to work with graphics, Word just keeps getting better and better.

See also:

[Links last checked August 2012]


Word 2007: I lost my images!

January 24, 2011

My work colleague, Susan, called the other day with a problem. In a Word 2007 document she was working on, all the images had gone and were replaced by boxes where they had been. She checked her picture layout settings, and they were set to In line with text, which is her normal way (and mine) of working with images.

Susan sent me her document, but all the images showed fine on my computer. She thought it was only this document, but when she opened another, its pictures were missing too.

Her next thought was that she’d inadvertently hit some combination of keys that turned off the images, so we compared our Word Options settings — and there we found the culprit!

Her Show picture placeholders check box (under the Advanced > Show document content section) was selected. As soon as she unchecked the box and clicked OK, all her images displayed properly again.


Word 2007: Resizing a graphic makes it go really small

October 19, 2010

Since using Word 2007, I’ve noticed that some graphics go really small when you try to resize them by percentage. Until now, I hadn’t figured out why or how to overcome the problem. But I think I’ve stumbled on the reason and a solution.

I *think* the problem lies with where the graphics come from originally (e.g. Visio) and/or the file format they are saved to (e.g. gif, png, jpg, etc.). But it may be Word.

I had a Visio diagram that I saved to PNG. I inserted it into Word 2007 and it went in fine. But when I looked at its native size (right-click on the image, select Size), it was listed as 10% of the actual size even though it filled the page. I didn’t want it to fill the page, so needed to make it smaller. Instead of resizing the image outside Word (the file size was only about 300 KB), I decided to use the Size function to reduce it to 5% of the actual size thus halving the size of the displayed image on the page.

I entered 5% as the new value and clicked Close. The image shrunk down to less than the size of a postage stamp! It should’ve taken up about half the page. I went back to check what I’d typed, and saw that it was set to 1%. So I typed 50% this time — and double-checked it before clicking Close. It still showed as a postage stamp size and was listed as 1%. What was going on?

Back into the Size dialog box… where I noticed the tooltip below as I hovered over the Height and Width boxes: Enter a value from 1% to 0%. What?

Nothing I did with the values in that Scale area would allow me to set a value that Word would hold — it kept resetting to 1%.

Back to the drawing board — or, in this case, back to Visio. I saved the drawing as GIF and inserted it into the document in place of the PNG. When I checked the Size window for it, it showed as 100%, AND the tooltip said Enter a value from 1% to 200%. That was better.

So I solved the immediate problem by saving the image in a different file format and inserting it.

I’d have to do a bit more experimenting to see whether the problem is at the Word end, the Visio end, or if it’s the file format, or something else. I can’t recall ever seeing this issue in Word 2003, but then, I didn’t do a lot with Visio diagrams either. That said, something in the back of my memory is niggling at me now — I vaguely recall an issue where the Word output from Author-it would resize some graphics down to a really small size. I think those graphics may have been PNGs too… It didn’t happen often to me, but I do recall seeing it and I recall some people on the Author-it discussion group getting it more often than others. I was definitely using Word 2003 then. Hmmm. I’ll have to do some more investigating when I have time.


Graphics file formats for Word, PDF and HTML output

December 16, 2008

A perennial question that arises on the various technical writing lists I subscribe too is about ‘what graphics format should I use for screenshots?’

While many academic papers and long articles have been written on the merits of each and the technical details of why you should use one over another, here’s my short version:

Use GIF, PNG, or JPG for online. There are a couple of more obscure formats too, like SVG, but these three cover the main graphics file formats suitable for online delivery and display.

GIF and PNG are similar in final size (small!) but GIFs only have 256 colors whereas PNGs have 16+ million colors. I’ve used GIFs successfully for screenshots, but I know some people have problems with them. GIFs are fine for line drawings, but may ‘lose information’ with color-rich screenshots. I find it’s easier to save as PNG for everything except photos. That way I don’t have to think about it!

Use JPG for photos. Be aware that JPG (also 16+ million colors) is a lossy format, which means that every time you resize or alter the photo in some way, it will lose ‘data’ on saving. Over time, a regularly saved JPG will start to show artefacts (usually fuzzy patches and pixellation). If you’re old enough, you’ll remember when jokes were faxed or photocopied multiple times—the first few times wasn’t a problem, but after numerous copy iterations, much of the data was lost. If you’re doing high-end graphics things with photos you might want to consider TIFFs etc. but they are very large and do not work well (at all?) on the web.

Word handles most graphics formats well. However, Word does its own transformation of the graphic—including resizing it to fit the available space—so that 4 MB graphic that looks fine in Word will blow out Word’s file size and may make the document slower to load. Where you can, get a copy of the image, resize it so it’s smaller, save it as a PNG, then include it in the Word document.

My recommendation for clean and lean non-photographic graphics for all outputs is PNG; reserve JPGs for photos only.

Oh, one other thing… Crop or doctor the screenshot so the user doesn’t inadvertently click on it thinking it’s the real thing. Even after writing Help for many years, I still do this occasionally! I use SnagIt to capture the graphic and crop it (by selecting the area of focus, adding a torn edge, drop shadow, highlight/fade or some other method to indicate that the graphic isn’t the real application). SnagIt also lets you set up profiles, so you can set up a profile for your PNG settings and then just do a heap of captures in a row and they will all save as PNGs.