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: Freezing Cell Size when Inserting Pictures.

Freezing Cell Size when Inserting Pictures

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 1, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Al wrote about a problem he was having with inserting graphics into a table. He created a table that had four rows and four columns, and then merged the center four cells. He ended up with one large cell surrounded by twelve smaller cells. When he tried to place a picture into the center cell, his table was thrown all out of whack as the table rows and columns would adjust to accommodate the inserted picture.

This is normal behavior for Word. According to Word's online help system, if you insert a graphic into a table cell, the cell is adjusted to fit the dimensional needs of the graphic. If you don't want Word to do that, then you must format the table so that it won't. This requires two passes through the Table Properties dialog box. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the table and choose Table Properties from the Context menu. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Table tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Table tab of the Table Properties dialog box.

  4. Clear the Automatically Resize to Fit Contents check box. (In Word 2003 you need to click the Options button to display the Automatically Resize to Fit Contents check box.)
  5. Click OK.
  6. Select the row or rows that will contain pictures.
  7. Right-click on the selected rows and choose Table Properties from the Context menu. Word again displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  8. Make sure the Row tab is displayed. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Row tab of the Table Properties dialog box.

  10. Select the Specify Height check box, and indicate right next to it the height you want used for the rows that will contain graphics.
  11. Using the Row Height Is drop-down list, choose Exactly.
  12. Clear the Allow Row to Break Across Pages check box.
  13. Click OK.

Now, insert your picture as you normally would. The table will not resize. If the graphic is larger than the available space in the cell, then it is cropped to fit within the cell.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3839) 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: Freezing Cell Size when Inserting Pictures.

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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