Using Graphics in Word

Microsoft Word is first and foremost a word processing program. In as much as many features have been added to the program to take it well beyond simple word processing, the program is not designed to be a layout program.

Word lacks support for many features you find with layout programs such as supporting color management, printing color separations, controlling halftone frequency, and more. As a matter of practice you should avoid creating files for press, and in particular for color separations, in Word.

If it’s an absolute must that you need to use Word for commercial printing, then you need to be aware of some things to avoid. These items include the following:

  • Use RGB images. Be certain to not use Indexed color images in your Word files. Make certain all your images are edited and saved in an RGB color space and let the RGB to CMYK conversion take place at the time the files are printed.
  • Use TIFF format for raster images. Avoid using GIF, JPG, PNG, PCX, PICT, BMP, and other file formats. Use only TIFF as the format to import photos and raster images.
  • Use EPS for vector objects. Again avoid using any other formats for vector objects and use only EPS for these graphics. Do not use the clip art you can import in Word. Create vector objects in a program such as Adobe Illustrator and save as EPS.
  • Do not paste images in Word. Pasting images in Word converts files to Windows Metafile (Window) or PICT (Macintosh). These file formats won’t print properly on commercial printing equipment.

Again, I would caution you against using Word for printing files with graphics on commercial printing equipment. When you have no other alternative, make sure to follow the preceding tips.