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: Best Quality for High Resolution Graphics.

Best Quality for High Resolution Graphics

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 31, 2017)

4

Nina is creating a letterhead, and she wants to use a graphic for the address portion of the letterhead. She saved the text portion out as an EPS vector file, thinking this would provide the best resolution when she later inserted the graphic into Word. When she did that, the EPS file is treated, in Word, as if it is 72 dpi. This makes the original size of the graphic (according to Word) huge, something like 69 inches. Word automatically fits the image to the available space, which means it is resized to 11% of its original. This means that the resulting graphic, in Word, looks terrible; the text in graphic format doesn't appear as crisp or sharp as the original text version of the address. Nina wonders what the best way is to embed a high-resolution graphic in her letterhead so that it appears with the crispness and clarity she expects.

There are several issues at play here. First of all, you may want to strongly consider not using EPS for your high-resolution graphics that will end up in a Word document. EPS is a vector format, meaning that a graphic file consists of many separate "objects" that are mathematically defined. Most programs, including Word, do not decode the math to the screen, but instead rely upon a low-resolution "preview" of the image. This preview is generated by the program that created the EPS file and it is typically at a low resolution, such as 72 dpi.

When you use Word to print the EPS file, what you see on the printout depends on the type of printer you are using. If you are using a PostScript printer (and the correct printer driver for that printer), then the EPS graphic will be printed correctly because PostScript is able to decode the EPS files correctly. If you are using a different type of printer—one that doesn't understand PostScript—or if you are using a non-PostScript printer driver with a PostScript printer, then what you see will be what you see on the screen—the low-resolution preview image for the EPS.

Since there are so many things that have to be "just right" in order for EPS files to work properly with Word, it is best to not rely on them unless you have to. Instead, choose to export your image to a high-resolution TIF format. Normally, for most printers, either 300 dpi or 600 dpi will work just fine. The resulting image file will be rather large, but it will be just as crisp and clear as you expect. The reason is that Word can work with TIF files just fine and scale them to whatever size you need.

If the large file sizes are a problem, there are a couple of things you might try. First, export your image using a format such as PNG. It has great resolution, but the file sizes are much smaller than corresponding TIF files. You should also consider using a graphics program to resize the graphic to whatever final size you need in the Word document.

Finally, whatever format you decide upon for your graphics, you'll want to use Insert | Picture to actually insert the image into your document. If you paste the image instead of inserting it, Word may convert the image to a bitmap version that is not the greatest for some purposes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10217) 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: Best Quality for High Resolution Graphics.

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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Comments

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What is five minus 2?

2019-04-21 07:52:35

Dave

The advice is only OK. There is a better way of bringing EPS or any Vector graphics into a Word document. Using a program like Illustrator or Inkscape to export a PS (Post Script) or EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) file to EMF or WMF which are the preferred Vector graphics format for Microsoft Word isn't a great idea. They can output to WMF or EMF but they frequently can produce errors when outputting to this format so if it works, then do it, but for many people it won't work. There is a work around however...


What you do is when either Inkscape or Illustrator are open -> select the entire drawing -> copy, then go into MS Word, find the paste button (On Home Ribbon for Word 2007+) and right below it should be a tiny arrow pointing down. Click the arrow and you should find something that says "Paste Special". You will then be presented with some options, choose Picture (Enhanced Metafile) or (Windows Metafile). Typically you'll only be presented with one of the options I just listed in addition to a bunch of irrelevant options like "Bitmap" which you should NOT select. . If you're presented the choice between (Enhanced Metafile) or (Windows Metafile) I suggest trying either one and see which provides the best results.

Finally, after importing the image into MS Word, IF AND ONLY IF the lines in the image become askew, there is a chance this can be easily fixed. All you have to do is right click on the picture and click "edit picture", then deselect the picture by clicking on the white space outside of the picture. Careful when you have to move the picture around in the document, now that you've fully integrated this vectorized photo, if you don't carefully select the outside of the boundary box for the photo, you may start tearing the picture apart limb by limb.


Keeping the picture vectorized is the ideal format and the author of this article did the easy way out but it's not the ideal way, especially if it's something that will be printed.


2016-11-18 11:53:32

Loralee

Great explanation. I found it very helpful. I've tried the PDF route and the graphic did not look good at all. Sizing the TIF in Photoshop worked beautifully once I inserted into Word. Thank you!


2015-01-11 00:53:25

Kawika

The obvious solution has been omitted: don't paste, don't insert. Instead, link to the image file. This will preserve the original resolution.


2012-12-10 13:24:11

Chris Hubley

There's some poor advise here. The best way to incorporate line graphics into MS Word is with Microsoft's own formats, WMF or EMF.

EPS is an industry standard format, and produces quality prints in MS Word. Unfortunately Microsoft doesn't play well with industry standard formats, and the screen rendering is atrocious (as mentioned). However, if you save the file as an PDF format before you share it, the image will be crisp. EPS is the second-best way to incorporate line-art into an MS Word document.

Unfortunately, when it comes to bitmap formats like TIFF or PNG, Word automatically "helps" by reducing the resolution to 200dpi to reduce file size. I've found no way to stop Word from doing that, and it has a tendency to bork your high-quality images when it comes time for printing.

When possible, I'd recommend against using MS Word when you need to incorporate high-resolution bitmap images into your document for that reason. There are alternative word processing and desktop publishing programs which handle bitmap images better (some of them free; LibreOffice Writer and Scribus, for example).

When inserting images into Word, the best bet is to use EMF images produced in MS Expression Design or similar software. I *think* that you can trick MS Word into maintaining the resolution of raster/bitmap images by opening them in MS Expression Design and saving them as a EMFs.


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