Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 7, 2018)


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 Office 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 eight minus 7?

2014-01-28 09:21:49

Surendera M. Bhanot

@ K.Vee Shanker.

I hate the Drawing Canvas and I have switched it off. I use do it on the canvas and anchor the graphic in group to a paragraph, where it sticks. It you copy it always use the "Keep Source Formatting" in Paste Special.

2014-01-28 05:24:42



I hope, you're talking about using 'Grouping' in the Drawing Canvas- not on the page directly.

Grouping doesn't work satisfactorily without canvas. When I copy or open it in another image editor/machine, I find the grouped image incomplete as well as disjointed.

2014-01-27 07:50:52

Surendera M Bhanoti

One can even use the select tool (an inverted arrow pointer) that selects the graphics and drawings, which falls between the selections, right click and choose "Group". All selected drawing and graphics are grouped as one object. This group can be copied. You may also layer them according to you choice. You can also edit each graphic to some extent without un grouping them.

2014-01-27 01:48:16


@ Peter,

Thanks for enlightening me about merits of the Drawing Canvas! I appreciate your initiative.

Earlier,I always wondered about its possible uses. It would be a value addition if a tip includes such information too.

2013-09-18 07:55:34


Word 2007 allows you to insert a 'Canvas' (Insert > Illustrations panel > Shapes > New Drawing Canvas right at the bottom) and then insert pictures, shapes and (text-box) text into it. A Canvas moves with the document text like an in-line graphic, bringing the pictures and shapes with it in their correct relative positions.
Items inserted into it may additionally be put in order front-to-back, and be grouped together (including multiple pictures). The contents of a Canvas maintain their positions when a document is edited or transferred to another machine with a different printer or options set. Note that if a picture is *cut and pasted* into the Canvas from the document, existing changes in size, resolution, cropping etc. become permanent.

2013-07-30 03:18:32


Thanks for the tips! I use 'grouping' but I've found that I can only group the callouts themselves; the graphic refuses to become part of the group. This is somewhat helpful because when the callouts move around, they can be repositioned as a group, but I wish, like you claim, they could be linked to the graphic and then there would be no dislocation in the first place!
Is there some parameter that I have to enable/disable to make the graphic become part of the group? Or some other way I'm not thinking of?
Thank you so much!

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