How to Edit a Picture in Word

It is easy to edit a picture in Word.
You don't have to use photo-editing software, such as Photoshop, to edit a picture and then insert it into the Word document.
There is much Word can do for you.
Word allows you to:

Remove Background

One of the tools available if you want to edit a picture in Word is "Remove Background".
You can remove the background presented by Word, that is, the magenta (reddish-purple) - see Figure 1.

Remove background from a picture in WordFigure 1: Remove background from a picture in Word

You can change the default background (the magenta colored areas) if you wish.
You could select magenta colored parts of the background you wish to keep, or you could select other parts (not magenta colored) to remove (see Figure 2).

Edit a picture in Word by removing the backgroundFigure 2: Remove background in a Word picture

The result of removing the background is shown in Figure 3.

Eiffel Tower picture after background removed by WordFigure 3: Eiffel Tower with background removed using Word

Return to edit options

Adjust Brightness, Contrast or Sharpness

You can edit a picture in Word to change the following:

  • sharpness (i.e., the clarity)
  • brightness (i.e., how much darkness or light)
  • contrast (i.e. difference in brightness between objects or regions)

Use the "Corrections" tool to edit a picture in Word (see Figure 4) so that the sharpness, brightness, and contrast are to you liking.

Adjust brightness, contrast or sharpness of a picture in WordFigure 4: Brightness, contrast and sharpness change in a picture using Word

Return to edit options

Change the Look of the Picture

You can change the color of the picture (see Figure 5) you have inserted in your Word document.
Select "Color" (instead of "Corrections") from the Picture Format submenu (see Figure 4).

You can change the appearance of the picture (see Figure 6) you have inserted in your Word document.
Select "Artistic Effects" (instead of "Corrections") from the Picture Format submenu (see Figure 4).

Picture of the Eiffel Tower in grayscaleFigure 5: Eiffel Tower in grayscale produced by Word
Word sketch of the Eiffel TowerFigure 6: Sketch of the Eiffel Tower produced by Word

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Compress the Picture

Word allows you to compress images to reduce the size of your Word document.
Figure 7 shows you the options available.
The default resolution is 220 ppi (pixels per inch). This is satisfactory for most applications, so most times you do not have to do anything.
You may consider reducing to 96 ppi if you are having trouble sending the document with an email.

Word options for compressing pictures in a documentFigure 7: Compress pictures in a Word document

Figure 8 shows the result of compressing a document.
Each document contains the same pictures. The pictures (220 ppi) in the document were compressed to 150 ppi.
The file size has been more than halved.

Display of file size reduction by compressing images in a Word documentFigure 8: Comparison of file size before and after pictures compressed in a Word document

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Change the Transparency of Your Picture

Transparency tells you how much you can see through your image, that is, how much of what is behind you can see.
Word inserts an image with 0% transparency. You can edit a picture in Word (as shown in Figure 9)  to change the transparency.

Steps from the Word menu to change the transparency of a pictureFigure 9: Steps in Word to change the transparency of a document in Word

Figure 10 consists of two pictures. The Eiffel Tower picture has been placed on top of a picture of Paris.
The transparency of the Eiffel Tower picture has been changed to 50% - you can partly see through it.

A transparent picture of the Eiffel Tower with a Paris backgroundFigure 10: Eiffel Tower with 50% transparency overlaid a picture of Paris

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Choose a Border

A tool to edit a picture in Word is the "Picture Border" tool,
You can choose a different border from a gallery of different borders (see Figure 11).

How to change the border of a picture in Word using the Picture Styles galleryFigure 11. Select a picture border in Word

You can further refine the look of the picture by using the Picture Border, Picture Effects and Picture Layout tools.
For example, Figure 12 shows the Eiffel Tower with a red border and reflection created from selecting Picture Border and Picture Effects (Reflections).

Eiffel Tower with red border and reflection created by Picture Border and Picture Effects in WordFigure 12: Eiffel Tower with red border and reflection created in Word

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How to Change the Size of the Picture in Word

You may wish to change the size of the picture to fit better on your Word page.
Making the picture smaller should in theory increase the clarity of the picture as the same number of pixels are squashed into a smaller area.
However, you will not notice the difference.
Making the picture larger should in theory decrease the clarity of the picture as the same number of pixels are placed in a larger area.
However, once again, you will probably not notice any difference. In any case, you cannot make the picture too large because part of it will go off the page.
You can easily experiment by making the picture smaller or larger (see Figure 20) and choosing which size you think is best.

Resize picture in WordFigure 20: Resize picture in Word

How to Edit a Picture in Word - Summary

The above tools are very useful if you want to edit a picture in Word.

More sophisticated editing tools, such as Photoshop, are great but take time to master. If you are not familiar with specialized photo-editing software, the picture editing tools in Word are easy to use (as shown) and will be sufficient for many needs when inserting pictures in a Word document.

More information about editing a picture in Word is found here.