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Best Quality for High Resolution Graphics

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Best Quality for High Resolution Graphics.

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.

Another thing you will want to do is to configure Word so that it doesn't compress images. (This is only available in Word 2010.) Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (Click the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll down until you see the Image Size and Quality section. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The image settings in the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Set Default Target Output control is set to 220 ppi.
  6. Click OK.

When you perform these steps, Word converts any high-resolution images to the resolution you specified in step 4. If 220 dpi is not sufficiently high-res for your needs, then you should (in step 4) click the Do Not Compress Images check box. When set, this causes Word to ignore whatever you have specified in the Set Default Target Output control and, instead, include any pasted images at their original resolution. This results in the highest resolution (provided your images are higher resolution than 220 dpi), but it also results in the largest document file sizes.

Finally, whatever format you decide upon for your graphics, you'll want to use the Picture tool on the Insert tab of the ribbon 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 (10218) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Best Quality for High Resolution Graphics.

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Comments for this tip:

Rachel    07 Aug 2014, 07:20
Hi all, I am trying to improve the dpi of an image. Its TIFF currently and I need it to be at least 300dpi for publication. I wondered if I can export it from Word and make word export it at a higher resolution than it currently is. Is that possible? And if so how can I go about it?

Thanks for any knowledge shared,

Best

Rachel
Rob    21 Apr 2014, 20:14
What about the .wmf vector format - has worked well for me, and vector art is small size (and higher quality) compared to bitmap artwork.
Marvin    18 Apr 2014, 06:52
I teach, as an adjunct professor, the use of InfanView for graphics control. It is free, effective, and easy.

The best part about the 72 dpi issue is to go to Image, Information, and set BOTH blocks of Resolution to 300 dpi. You MUST click Change to have it apply. Before you do observe the print size before and after you click Change. The result is the true high-resolution size at 300 dpi (which is the best general resolution). Then save to JPG, Interview's default. A large 72 dpi file becomes reasonable in size. It is easy to further reduce with InfanView or Word. However, trying to expand too much will not work if the size is really something like 0.5 by 0.5.
peter    28 Jan 2014, 14:47
It is not true that you can't globally turn off the default image compression in Word 2007. See Microsoft bulletin at
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2002066
Julie    08 Oct 2013, 00:08
This does not solve the poor image quality issue for word for mac 2011. I have spent hours trying to fix this issue. You cannot simply cut and paste any picture file into word as the quality is awful. The quality is also poor when you insert as a picture file. Please will someone provide me with a solution.
Elisabeth    06 Oct 2013, 15:41
Is there a way to go above 220 dpi? In Word 2003, they offered 300.
Carolyn    29 Jul 2013, 10:44
Thanks for this information and your very clear explanation. Do you know if the same image size and quality settings can be changed in Word for Mac 2011?
Bill Spikowski    13 Mar 2013, 16:23
Well, that explains why my high-resolution maps have always looked so lousy in Word! Thanks so much for the clear explanation, and the fix.
Jerad    10 Dec 2012, 15:46
Fantastic -- this is exactly what I've been looking for. I had been putting off converting our new letterhead to Word format because I had given up on Microsoft properly rendering embedded images. You gave me hope, and the results look great!
Birthe Lauridsen    22 Oct 2012, 06:09
Hi
Have you considered EMF format? I have good experience with it in Word.

Best regards

Birthe

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