Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Keeping Callouts Positioned.

Keeping Callouts Positioned

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 18, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


One of the features of the graphics capabilities in Word is that you can easily add callouts to your graphics. This simply means that you can add a special text box that allows you to explain different aspects of a figure. For instance, you might want to draw the readers' attention to a specific portion of a picture, so you provide your explanation with an arrow that points to the relative area in the picture.

If you use callouts of this type frequently, you may notice that it is possible for them to "jump around" a bit over time. This typically happens if you edit a document extensively after callouts have been placed. The reason is quite simple: as you make your edits, the pagination and layout of a page can change. This can affect exactly where your callouts are located. For instance, if you have a drawing with three callouts, you actually have four graphic elements. Not all of the elements may be "anchored" to the same location on the page. As you make edits, the anchor points shift to account for the layout changes. This affects the appearance of the callouts in relation to the drawing you want them associated with.

There are several solutions you can follow. The first (and perhaps most obvious) is to use a third-party graphics program and add your callouts within it. That way you are inserting a single graphic, with callouts in place, rather than individual graphics and callouts.

If you still want to do your work within Word, then the next best solution is to simply instruct Word to treat the drawing and associated callouts as a single unit. Remember that the callouts are actually treated as individual graphic elements by Word. Thus, you can select each callout, along with the original drawing, and group them together as a single unit. The following steps will do the trick:

  1. Insert your graphic as you normally would.
  2. Place each of your callouts, as desired.
  3. Click once on your graphic to select it.
  4. Hold down the Shift key as you click, in turn, on each of your callouts.
  5. Make sure the Format tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  6. In the Arrange group, click the Group tool and then choose Group.

Word now treats your graphic, with its associated callouts, as a single unit. If you later want to change a callout (or even remove one), you will need to select your compound graphic and ungroup it. (Click on Draw and choose Ungroup.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6281) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Keeping Callouts Positioned.

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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What is 8 - 5?

2019-05-23 11:08:54


In reply to Falk - What a great solution. Thank you!

2019-05-22 14:21:16


In reply to Connie:
There is yet another way keep the graphic inline with the text while still using (and editing) callout to that graphic: Insert a new drawing area, to be found at the bottom of the autoforms dropdown menu (sorry in case the term is wrong - I use a German localization of Office)
(see Figure 1 below)
Now, you can't insert a graphic with the "in line with text" option into the drawing area - but the drawing area it self can be formatted with every type of wrapping that normal graphics can. This area can be resized to your heart's desire, as can its contents. Use all forms, images, drawings, clipart, whatever you fancy. You can arrange everything just as you want, all items inside the area will always stay aligned as you positioned them, no matter how the document around it will change. I use it in papers and documentations a lot

Figure 1. 

2019-05-22 11:25:58


One additional tip (Word 2010): I have found that if the wrap mode of the graphic is "In line with text", this will not work. It won't let you select the graphic and the call-outs at the same time. If you need to use the in-line wrap mode, do the following:

1) Temporarily change the wrap mode of the graphic to any other setting, like "top and bottom"
2) Select your graphic and call-outs as described in the article.
3) Group them.
4) Now select the entire group and change the wrap mode back to "In line with text".

2019-05-21 10:33:48


I never knew about grouping images. This is SO helpful, as my colleague constantly has to rearrange items that shift in conversion.

Thank you!!

2019-05-18 16:00:45


The very simplest way to conserve a graphic with callouts is to use the Snipping Tool.
Only drawback , it cannot be changed.

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