Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Keeping Callouts Positioned.

Keeping Callouts Positioned

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 13, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


One of the features of the graphics capabilities in Word is that you can easily add callouts to your graphics. This simply means that you can add a special text box that allows you to explain different aspects of a figure. For instance, you might want to draw the readers' attention to a specific portion of a picture, so you provide your explanation with an arrow that points to the relative area in the picture.

If you use callouts of this type frequently, you may notice that it is possible for them to "jump around" a bit over time. This typically happens if you edit a document extensively after callouts have been placed. The reason is quite simple: as you make your edits, the pagination and layout of a page can change. This can affect exactly where your callouts are located. For instance, if you have a drawing with three callouts, you actually have four graphic elements. Not all of the elements may be "anchored" to the same location on the page. As you make edits, the anchor points shift to account for the layout changes. This affects the appearance of the callouts in relation to the drawing you want them associated with.

There are several solutions you can follow. The first (and perhaps most obvious) is to use a third-party graphics program and add your callouts within it. That way you are inserting a single graphic, with callouts in place, rather than individual graphics and callouts.

If you still want to do your work within Word, then the next best solution is to simply instruct Word to treat the drawing and associated callouts as a single unit. Remember that the callouts are actually treated as individual graphic elements by Word. Thus, you can select each callout, along with the original drawing, and group them together as a single unit. The following steps will do the trick:

  1. Make sure the Drawing toolbar is displayed.
  2. Insert your graphic as you normally would.
  3. Place each of your callouts, as desired.
  4. Click once on your graphic to select it.
  5. Hold down the Shift key as you click, in turn, on each of your callouts.
  6. Click on the Draw menu on the Drawing toolbar, then choose Group.

Word now treats your graphic, with its associated callouts, as a single unit. If you later want to change a callout (or even remove one), you will need to select your compound graphic and ungroup it. (Click on Draw and choose Ungroup.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (692) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Keeping Callouts Positioned.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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