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Moving Object Anchors

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Moving Object Anchors.

An object anchor is an indicator that shows the document paragraph with which a floating object is associated. You can see where object anchors are located by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Display. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Display options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Object Anchors check box is selected. (You don't need to select the check box if the Show All Formatting Marks check box is selected.)
  5. Click on OK.

Once you place a picture or other object in your document, you may want to change the paragraph to which it is anchored. To move the object anchor, follow these steps:

  1. Click once on the object whose anchor you want to move. You should be able to see the object anchor icon as well.
  2. Click on the object anchor icon and drag it either up (towards the beginning of the document) or down (towards the end of the document).
  3. Release the mouse button when the mouse pointer is next to the paragraph where you want the object anchored.

Moving an object anchor doesn't necessarily move the object associated with the anchor. Instead, Word adjusts the positioning information for the object. If you want to actually move the object's position, you need to display the object's Advanced Layout dialog box (Word 2007) or Layout dialog box (Word 2010 and Word 2013) and change the settings on the Position tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7984) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Moving Object Anchors.

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Comments for this tip:

Ken Endacott    11 Nov 2015, 07:23
In Word terminology a "floating object" is an object anchored to something. Go figure!

The anchor symbol does not tell much about the object's anchoring. For that you need to right click the object and select More Layout Options. Understanding anchoring helps explain why objects move around when changes are made to the document. As can happen, two objects on a page may move differently when document changes are made because they have different anchoring setups

Anyway, here are the anchoring options and where the anchor symbol is positioned.

Horizontal anchor point:

Page. The object's offset is measured from the left hand paper edge. The anchor symbol is shown in the left hand margin.

Margin. Offset from the left hand margin. If the margin is changed then the object moves with the margin. The anchor symbol is shown in the left hand margin.

Column. Offset from the column boundary. The anchor symbol is in the white space to the left of the column. The actual offset value can place the object in another column to the anchor column.

Character. Offset from a particular character with the anchor symbol at that character. Note that this does not give the same result as an in-line object.

Vertical anchor point:

Paragraph. Vertical offset is from the first line of a paragraph. If that paragraph moves down then the object moves with it. Dragging the object up or down changes the offset value and may cause the anchor to switch to another paragraph (with automatic adjustment of the offset value) unless the anchor is locked. You can also drag the anchor itself to a different paragraph in which case the object doesn’t move but its offset is adjusted. If you select the paragraph then you also select any object anchored to the paragraph and deleting the selection will also delete the object.

Line. Offset from a particular line in a paragraph. The anchor symbol is adjacent to that line. If text is added to or removed from the paragraph before that line then the anchor moves in some mysterious fashion and the object moves with it.

Page. Offset from the top edge of the paper. However the anchor symbol is shown at the top of the nearest paragraph. If the paragraphs move down the position of the object remains at the same place on the page but the anchor symbol may switch to another (nearest) paragraph even though the offset is still to the page.

Margin. Similar to Page except the offset is from the top margin. The object will move vertically if the top margin is moved.
DPW    10 Nov 2015, 22:00
Now I know how to make an anchor visible/invisible. How do I get rid of it completely? I have a picture anchored to a paragraph. I can anchor it to another paragraph and move the anchor, but what I REALLY want is for the picture not to be anchored to anything. I want NO anchor... is that possible?
Anna Wirt    07 Oct 2015, 10:56
I truly wish Microsoft would have left Word as a simple letter writing instrument, and create a different app for more complex documentation that includes pictures, etc. Every time there is an upgrade, the app changes, just when I've gotten used to the previous version.
Arrghh! I know this is a WordTips site, I just needed to vent. I should contact Microsoft.
Greg    30 Jan 2015, 06:53
No wonder I hate word for anything but basic letters.
Publisher is so much better when inserting anything into the doc!
Shilpa    19 Sep 2014, 06:57

I came to this page looking for a solution to remove the anchor tags.But didnt find any.

The following worked for me:
Select the image, and change it position to Inline with text". You can now move the image and the numbing anchor symbol is gone too.
jp    18 Apr 2014, 12:30
the problem is I don't want my object anchored anywhere! can't find anyone addressing this. I am working with word 2013. I had a beautiful document with graphics and text. every time I print it, everything on the page gets smaller. Now I can't get my main text box to enlarge because of the dumb anchor. any advise?
many thanks
Chris    11 Jun 2013, 04:00

Thank you for your always useful Word tips.

On this occasion, I am with Kathy in the confusion of over the sentence she highlights.

What is the benefit of moving the positioning information?

Thank you.
David Rathbun    10 Jun 2013, 05:37
One thing to note, and a reason why you may wish to move an object anchor, is if the anchor is located in a Table Cell, it will affect the alignment of the contents of that cell. If you look at the cell alignment, it won't have changed, but the contents will be skewed off-center (if that was your alignment). I use the technique in this tip frequently to move obect anchors out of table cells.
Sheila McInnes    10 Jun 2013, 02:18
I dont see anchors when I insert a picture until I format text wrapping square. I have the same problem as Kathy in not understanding quite what the anchor does. My picture and anchor both move when the formatting is square.
E. N. Abbott    09 Jun 2013, 09:54
The anchor object (picture, text box, shape or whatever you have inserted) becomes associated with a paragraph. Moving the anchor to a different location associates the anchored object with a different paragraph, but the object itself may not move.
kathy    08 Jun 2013, 05:37
Thank you. I find your website invaluable. However, I can't quite grasp this sentence.

"Moving an object anchor doesn't necessarily move the object associated with the anchor. Instead, Word adjusts the positioning information for the object."

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