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: Understanding Object Anchors.

Understanding Object Anchors

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 7, 2015)

Objects can be placed in your document in two ways: either inline or floating. Inline objects are those that reside on the same layer as your text and are positioned within the stream of text that surrounds the object. Floating objects are those that are placed on a layer over the text. The thing that indicates essentially where a floating object is located in relation to the text in your document is referred to as an object anchor.

Object anchors can only be seen in Print Layout view, but even then they are not always visible. In other words, you can control the display of the anchors. If you select a graphic object in your document and you see a boat-anchor icon appear in the left margin of the document, then you know you have the display of object anchors enabled. You can change this setting by following these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the View tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The View tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. To view object anchors, make sure the Object Anchors check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

Object anchors are used to specify the paragraph with which an object is associated. Why is that important? Because it can affect the positioning of the object within the document. For instance, if you select a picture and then choose Picture from the Format menu, you will see the Format Picture dialog box. The Position tab of that dialog box allows you to set the vertical position of the picture in relation to the paragraph to which it is anchored. Thus, seeing the object anchor helps you to understand the positioning of the picture.

In addition, the Position tab allows you to select a check box named Lock Anchor. This option causes Word to always paginate your document so that the object (the picture) is always on the same page as the object anchor. This is the best way to ensure that a picture is on the same page as the paragraph that describes what is in the picture.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1439) 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: Understanding Object Anchors.

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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