Positioning objects in Word

If you have objects like shapes or pictures in your Word document,
and then move
the document text around, it may not be clear why your objects are repositioned the way

they are.

In Word, there are two primary ways objects can be positioned.

  • In line with the text - The object is positioned just like normal
    text is positioned. If you insert text in front of the object, it
    moves forward just like the rest of the text does.
  • Floating - The object is "anchored" somewhere and moves when

    thing to which it's anchored moves. If the thing to which the object's anchored

    is deleted, the object gets deleted too.

To find out which of the two a particular object uses:

  1. Double-click the object to bring up up a dialog.
  2. Click the Layout tab.
  3. In the Wrapping Style section, if the leftmost dog picture is
    selected (In line with text), the object uses inline positioning.
    Otherwise it's floating.

If you've got something inline, positioning it easy. Just move it
around like you move around text.

If it's floating, the easiest way to figure out its positioning is to display
the object's anchor:

  1. Switch to Print Layout view (View menu | Print Layout).
  2. Click the button on the Standard toolbar to
    show the document formatting.
  3. Now, click an object like a shape or an image. If the object's floating,

    you'll see a little anchor icon
    appear that indicates where the object is anchored.

Here's a quick example:


  • The yellow circle uses floating positioning.
    • At the top, notice that I have the button on the

      toolbar selected.

    • I clicked the yellow circle shape and the little anchor icon in the left

      margin appeared.

    • When the text near the anchor is moved,
      the yellow circle moves too.
    • If I delete text right next to the anchor, the circle is deleted too.
    • I can drag the anchor icon around to specify exactly where I want my circle


  • The blue rectangle is positioned inline. It's positioned just like any other

    Word text, in this case
    after "The quick br" and before "own fox. Since it's

    I can position the blue rectangle just like I position normal Word text.

Comments (3)

  1. Edward says:

    This sort of stuff seemed to get a lot better from Word97. All objects, tables, pictures, graphics etc had consistent set of properties and behaved in the same way. Before that everything seemed to be much less consistent and complicated to use.

    I always use floating positioning and I wonder why the default is still inline.

    It seems most people want to place graphics in a particular spot and have the text work around them. People become frustrated when an image suddenly jumps onto the next page because they entered a few too many characters or carrige returns.

  2. Wayne Kao says:

    OfficeArt, the shared drawing tools across Office, was first released in Office 97. So, I’m not surprised when you say that everything got better since everything was essentially rewritten for that release.

    I’m not sure why inline was made the default for images back in Office 97 since I wasn’t around then (I was a sophomore in high school in 1997). At this point though, it’d probably be really hard to change the default since everyone’s so used to it.

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