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  • Writer's pictureRaphaël Freeman

Don’t put broccoli into your Word document!

Updated: Feb 6

As professional typesetters, one of the questions we’re often asked is how to indicate where pictures need to go in a document. The natural assumption is to simply paste the images into Word, but that creates an enormous Word file (far larger than the images) and then the problems compound in managing the files.

In the above video, we show the best way in your manuscript where to indicate your pictures and captions need to go and also show you what happens when the Word file is imported into InDesign for typesetting.

Preparing the Images

It’s important that images are cropped to size. If the image is supposed to be 5 cm × 3 cm, make sure that is the actual size of the image with no white space around it.

The video below demonstrates the importance of trimming your images appropriately.

Also, very important, if you want a border on your image, make sure that the border is not in the original file, and that you give an instruction that a border of, say, ½ pt should be on the images. The reason for this is that when images are resized, then if the border is within the image, the border width will be inconsistent across images.

When naming images, we recommend that you use the regular English character set and do not use apostrophes, quote marks, hyphens, underscores or dashes. It’s very important to add the extension at the end of the image. So if your image is a jpg, then make sure to add .jpg at the end. If you are using Windows and don’t see the file extension, then click [here] for instructions on how to change the setting in folder options.

For those who are proficient in Word paragraph styles*, the best way is to put the name of the file, including the extension as its own paragraph and then, if the picture has a caption, put the caption text as a new paragraph. After that, simply apply the paragraph styles “picture” and “caption text” respectively.


In the first draft of the document, the images will be placed at the full-text width (unless the quality of the image is too low, in which case it will be placed at the maximum size possible so as not to compromise quality).

The next stage will be to indicate on the pdf using sticky notes at what width or height in mm you want the image to appear, ie you can simply write ‘50’ (no quote marks), and the image will be resized to a width of 50 mm. If you prefer working in inches, then specify ‘2 in’. You can also write 66%, and the image will be resized to take 66% of the width of the text block.

If you want several images to appear on one line, this can be indicated by simply writing “merge 4 images or something similar. Watch this 2-minute video to see what happens or for more detail, see this post.


When there are two images, often in landscape format, and they need to be one above the other on the same page this can be achieved by making both images smaller such that the width is the same for both images. Sometimes the proportions of both images are very different, and this does not look very attractive – one image might be squarer or portrait. This can be solved by resizing both images such that the area of both images is the same rather than the width. You can request this by simply writing “merge widths” or “merge area” on the first image and that image and the next will be resized accordingly. Here is a screencast demonstrating merging both horizontally and vertically (click to play):

*For those unfamiliar with how to apply Word paragraph styles, check out this handy video that will show you what they are and how to use them.


If you have a manuscript where you have lots of broccoli in it (or perhaps no pictures at all) then contact us for a no-obligation discussion.

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