Wrap Text Around a Picture in Word

I prefer to include images in Microsoft Word documents. They often help illustrate technical examples. The problem for me was I could never quite get the pictures and text to work nicely. Either the surrounding text was too close to the online picture or there was too much spacing. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to wrap text around an image in Word without using a table. (Includes video tutorial.)

For this word wrap tutorial, I’m taking advantage of Creative Commons images and the RAND function. However, you can use your own text, images, or even an irregular shape.

Create the Practice Doc Without Image

In this tutorial, I’m using Microsoft 365. And if you’re interested in older MS Word versions, I’ve created a PDF document with the steps. Let’s create a practice document.

  1. Open a blank Microsoft Word document.
  2. At the top of the page, type =rand(2,5).
  3. Press Enter.
Using RAND function for starting text.
Use RAND to create dummy text
  1. This Word function creates 2 paragraphs of 5 sentences of random text.
2 paragraphs of dummy text from RAND function.
Starting random text

How to Insert the Picture in Word

You can use any image, but I’m going to use an online image because they come with attached captions. Unfortunately, captions can present issues.

  1. Place your cursor at the end of paragraph 1.
  2. From the ribbon, click Insert.
  3. From the Illustrations group, click Pictures.
  4. From the menu, select Online Pictures…
Adding image via Online Pictures menu.
Find a picture to embed
  1. From the Online Pictures pane click Cats. Or, you can choose another category.
  2. Click the first cat picture. A checkmark will appear in the top right corner.
  3. Click the Insert tab. It will show with (1) to indicate image count.

Your image will appear between the two sample paragraphs.

Full width image with caption and no text wrapping.
Both the image and caption appear

Resize the Image & Caption

Most likely, your image is not the size you want, so we’ll resize it. What is not immediately apparent is that the caption has its own sizing controls. Thus, we’re dealing with 2 objects – the picture object and the caption object. If we don’t click the right set, we may end up resizing one object. You can test this by clicking around.

  1. Click the image. You want to have one set of sizing handles and one rotation control. The red arrow below points to the rotation handle.
Kitten image with rotation control and sizing handles.
Sizing box includes image and caption
  1. From the top menu, click Picture Format.
  2. In the Size group, click the downward-pointing arrow in the lower right corner.
Size group with arrow to access Advanced Layout options.
Click the tiny arrow for Advanced Layout
  1. This opens the Layout dialog with 3 Tabs: Position, Text Wrapping and Size. Click the Size tab.
Layout panel with outlined tabs and Lock aspect ratio checkbox.
Confirm tabs and Lock aspect ratio checkbox
  1. In the Height section, change the Absolute size to 2.5″.
  2. Press Tab. The width value will change.
  3. Keep the Lock aspect ratio box checked.
  4. Press OK.

You should now have a small image and a caption with the Layout Options control to the right. The image also maintained its aspect ratio.

Left-aligned smaller kitten image with sizing handles.
Smaller kitten image and caption

Adjust Word Wrap with Layouts

At this stage, we’d like to have the text wrap to the right of the image. To do that, we need to change our wrapping option.

  1. Click the Layout Options control, which is on the right-hand side outside of the sizing box.
  2. Click the Square option. It’s the first item under With Text Wrapping.
Layout Options panel with Square text wrap selected.
  1. Click the X to close the Layout Options panel.

We now have wrapped text to the right of the kitten image. However, this wrapping style looks too crowded for me.

Text wrapped around kitten image on 3 sides.
Text flows to the right side of the image

Add Space With Picture Styles

For my taste, there isn’t enough room between the image and text. And you can’t highlight the paragraph and indent. This is where picture styles play a role. Fortunately, Microsoft has a number of layout styles that can enhance the image and white space.

  1. Click your image. The sizing box should show around it and the caption.
  2. Click Picture Format from the top menu.
  3. The Picture Styles group appears.
  4. Click the More button (small arrow) to the right scrollbar to expand.
Adjusted text wrap using Soft Edge Rectangle style.
Hover over Picture Style icon to see effect
  1. Hover over the style icon to determine which one works best for you.

If you played around with the different picture formats, you’d have noticed that the effects differed quite a bit. And while some styles didn’t really increase the space between the image and text, the image effect and coloring made it seem like it did.

There are other places where you can wrap text in Word, such as making custom address labels with an image. While address labels don’t have as many options, the layout concept is similar. And you could probably shrink down this adorable kitten picture to use.

Supplemental Resources