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: Disappearing Graphics Groups.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 12, 2018)
Word allows you to add graphics—of several different types—to your documents. In formatting your graphics, Word allows you to set different attributes, such as the size of your graphic and how text flows around it.
If you have a number of different graphics in your document, and you need to control the positioning of those graphics in relation to each other, you can use Word's grouping option, which allows a collection of graphics objects to be treated as a singular group. An easy way to do this is to select all the graphics you want in the group, right click on one of the objects, choose Grouping, and then choose Group. When you do this, however, don't be surprised if your graphics group displays some odd behavior—it may even disappear completely!
The reason for this is that Word has some decisions to make when it treats previously individual items as a group. It is very likely that the pictures in the group had different attributes applied to them. For instance, each picture may have used a different text wrapping setting. When Word groups the pictures together, it doesn't know which wrapping option to apply, so it "guesses" and applies whatever it feels is appropriate. This same "guessing" can happen with other object properties, as well.
The result is that the graphic group may not be formatted exactly as you expect. In fact, the group may now be even be anchored on a different page of your document, which would cause it to "jump" to that other page, instead of being displayed where you expected to see it.
The solution to this is to remember that once you group pictures, you need to change the formatting settings for the resulting group as a whole. One handy way to do this is to make sure you are in Print Layout view and choose a very small Zoom setting—perhaps something like 25% or 10%. Word displays all your pages, laid out side by side. You should be able to quickly see where your newly formed group disappeared. At that point you can select the graphic group and format it as desired (pay close attention to the text wrapping for the group). You can even click on the group and drag it to a new page, if necessary.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1576) 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: Disappearing Graphics Groups.
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