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: Understanding Object Anchors.

Understanding Object Anchors

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 10, 2020)


Objects can be placed in your document in two ways: either inline or floating. Inline objects are those that reside on the same layer as your text and are positioned within the stream of text that surrounds the object. Floating objects are those that are placed on a layer over the text. The thing that indicates essentially where a floating object is located in relation to the text in your document is referred to as an object anchor.

If you click an object so that it is selected, and if the object is truly a floating object, and if you are looking at the document in Print Layout view, then you can possibly see the object anchor on the screen. (That's a lot of "ifs," I know.) (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. An object anchor shows up as a small boat anchor.

I say "possibly" because object anchors are not always visible. In other words, you can control the display of the anchors. (More on that in a moment.) If you select a graphic object in your document and you see a boat-anchor icon appear in the left margin of the document, then you know you have the display of object anchors enabled. If you select an inline object, then there is no object anchor to see. Why? Because inline objects are anchored to the place within the text where they were inserted. In other words, they are treated like any other character in the text itself.

If you want, you can modify whether Word displays object anchors or not. You can change this setting 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 or later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Display at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Display options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. To view object anchors, make sure the Object Anchors check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

Object anchors are used to specify the paragraph with which an object is associated. Why is that important? Because it can affect the positioning of the object within the document. In order to see how this works, you need to display the settings that allow you to position the object. Follow these steps if you are using Word 2007 or Word 2010:

  1. Right-click a floating object. Word displays a Context menu for that object.
  2. Choose the Format Picture option. Word displays the Format Picture dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Layout tab is selected.
  4. Click the Advanced button. Word displays the Advanced Layout dialog box.

If you are using Word 2013 or a later version, then the steps are a bit different because Word uses different Context menus:

  1. Right-click a floating object. Word displays a Context menu for that object.
  2. Choose the Size and Position option. Word displays Layout dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Position tab is selected. (See Figure 3.)
  4. Figure 3. The Position tab of the Layout dialog box.

Note that these steps will only work if you are working with a floating object; again, inline objects don't allow you to adjust their positioning relative to an object anchor. (Object anchors only exist for floating objects.)

Regardless of the version of Word you are using, the dialog box you see includes a plethora of controls that specify the positioning of the picture. One thing you can set is the vertical position of the picture in relation to the paragraph to which it is anchored. Thus, seeing the object anchor helps you to understand the positioning of the picture.

In addition, the Advanced Layout dialog box (Word 2007 and Word 2010) and the Layout dialog box (later versions of Word) allow you to select a check box named Lock Anchor. This option causes Word to paginate your document so that the object (the picture) is always on the same page as the object anchor. This is the best way to ensure that a floating picture is on the same page as the paragraph that describes what is in the picture.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8229) 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: Understanding Object Anchors.

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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If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 + 8?

2021-03-24 01:20:27

Ravi Prakash

Hi Allen,

I'm developing a plugin convert Icons/Pictures to floating object. I'm inserting a white rectangle on top of all pages in the Word document. I would like to raise few icons somehow so that i can manipulate the ZOrder of the those icons ot bring them in front of the rectangle. . While doing this, I do not want to disturb other text/icons around it.

For eg: AB C D E F

If C and E are icons of my interest and ABDF are text/icons. I want C and E to rise above their visual location without disturbing any paragraphs or anything in the Word file. I have tried using ConvertToShape function, but that doesn't help me as it disturbs everything around it.

2020-09-01 16:58:21

Andy Jackson

Hello Alan,
Thank you. This is a great site, and much more user-friendly than Microsoft's own so-called help. Every time MS ask the question "was this helpful?", the answer is always NO !

I have a problem with formatting. I've been using a computer since before Windows, when all you had was a blank screen and a C:\ Prompt on a 486 computer. I've grown up with Windows from 3.11 to Windows 10, and every time they improve it, they make it harder to use. This has really beaten me.

I'm getting huge blank spaces between my paragraphs. Basically, the page is justifying itself vertically. And whenever I try to insert a picture or text box, it gets worse. I've tried everything I know to fix it, and even cutting and pasting as Text Only doesn't cure it (see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. Formatting spaces

2020-04-01 05:25:59

Ken Endacott

Right click on the image, select Wrap Text and the wrapping type will be highlighted. The” In Line with Text” type is just that, all other types are floating and can be dragged around the page. If the image is floating and you click “In Line with Text” then it will be converted to In Line and vice versa.

The problem is that when converted, the image may be moved to a new position to comply with the new wrapping type. Clicking the original type in order to convert back to the previous type may not move the image back to the original position. This is where many people get frustrated and click backwards and forwards thus compounding the problem. If you want to get back to where you were then use undo.

By default Word gives inserted pictures "in line with text" wrapping. In contrast, inserted shapes are given the “In Front of Text” wrapping and are hence are floating.

2020-03-31 12:49:08

MIchael Armstrong

[cynic mode]The general rule seems to be that no matter if there's an anchor or not, you can't put the image where you want it, and if you do, it will be moved somewhere else anyyway.[/cynic mode]
Seriously, what determines if an image is floating or inline, and can you change one to the other? Seems to me, every time I paste an image, it floats.

2020-03-30 21:15:23


I am going ABSOLUTELY crazy as Word or something has arbitrarily broken Tables into an anchored frame for any number of table rows (all, the header row, some unknown row(s) in the table body. A single table may have been split into 5 tables, some with one row--for no particular reason, not even someone editing the table!

I have created a shortcut to the Remove Anchor, but the same document that I saved yesterday has new broken tables with anchors in them.

My lament: I see no way to search for an anchor. They "appear" if I select an area of text that has one, and this ONLY when there is the obvious problem of the anchor making the table run off the page or run together with a Heading paragraph.

Is there a SAR macro for anchors (in tables, that's where this virus seems to reside).

2019-12-24 13:16:23

Paul in the Heights

Remarkably clear and complete. So much better than poorly scripted or unscripted YouTube videos. Thanks very much.

2019-08-05 03:04:54


Word 'Options' is called 'preferences' on the Mac. Took me a while...

2019-01-25 08:37:07


Hi i have word file with anchor i am unable to copy content from anchor file pls help

2018-06-15 14:14:31


I have seen the word "object" used in different contexts. Is an image an "object"? My understanding of the word "object" is that is a category of things in Word (and the other programs) that share a certain group of properties.

2017-02-09 08:38:53

Jim Treharne

I have several figures in a Word Document (2016). Because they are fairly large (3in*5.5in) - I often get several lines of blank space on the previous page. While I would like the figure to be in or near paragraph that discusses it - I also prefer to eliminate all the extra space. What is best technique to do that?

On related note - I had issue with some captions moving so I embedded both caption and figure in a one cell table. That seems to work - not sure if best way.

2017-01-13 19:47:00


Using Word 2013, if multiple figures are floating over multiple pages, extra white space at end of page sometimes is present. Moving the figures around or shrinking them sometimes can fix this problem. But sometimes the white space at the end of a page is not eliminated.

2016-10-13 02:54:18

Qingyong Wu

i've got the same question as Robin Brooks :
"I am editing a large document of several hundred pages with many figures. Is it possible for the figures to float to the next space that is large enough even if this is on a subsequent page with text moving to fill the too-small space on the page where the figures anchor is located?"

inline graphs always suffer from this problem: if the remainning space of a page is not enough for a graph, the graph will appear on the top of the next page, leaving a large blank space on the former page. (this could be fixed by adjusting the size of the graph, however, sometimes the size of the graph is restricted by journals,publishers, etc)

it will be nice if Word automaticaly fill this blank space with text following.

2016-08-23 08:02:51

Ken Endacott

Change the text wrapping option from 'In Line with Text' to one of the floating options then you can drag the object to where you want it. These options are in the Text Wrapping tab of the Layout dialog box.

2016-08-22 16:05:57


How do you turn it off? I'm having a lot of issues with it. I just want to be able to move it anywhere I want.

2016-08-17 05:32:58

Ken Endacott

It all depends on whether you picture you are copying from is inline or floating. If it is inline then it will paste at the cursor position. If it is floating then after pasting it will be in the same relative position on the page but will be anchored to the paragraph that the cursor is in.

Right click on the picture and select Wrap Text. The highlighted item is the image type.

Textboxes and inserted shapes are always floating and when you paste them into a new page you need to drag them to the position that you want.

2016-08-16 16:55:31

Peter Assink

I would like to know how one can paste a picture that was copied from a certain page in a document at the cursor position of another page in the same document. Until now, when I paste a picture (or textbox) it always appears at the same position as it was on the page it was copied from (which is mostly not the desired new position (=cursor position)).
I would appreciate it a lot if someone could explain me how to manage this or otherwise refer to a tip that deals with this topic.

2015-11-04 01:32:13


I need to copy paste many images in word
I am using MS word 2010.
They always start overlapping on each other by default.
how do i stop overlapping images?

2015-11-01 18:06:13


I forgot to mention that I'm using Word 2013.

2015-11-01 18:04:46


I converted a large Adobe file to Word 13 for the purpose of editing it.
The Word file has many "underlines" that are attached to texts that I want to delete or modify.

How do I get rid of all of these anchored underlines? They are driving me crazy!

2015-08-26 17:41:11

Linda Wallers

I found this tip useful. I was not looking for how to kill the anchor, but rather how to fix a text box (Newsletter officer/meeting notices) on a particular page - apparently not doable in WORD. It is too bad that others bad mouth attempts to help users.

2015-08-16 14:09:08

Robin Brooks

I am editing a large document of several hundred pages with many figures. Is it possible for the figures to float to the next space that is large enough even if this is on a subsequent page with text moving to fill the too-small space on the page where the figures anchor is located?

2015-07-28 18:22:11


I am trying to layout a book with figures in the outside margins. It is very important to me to have the top each figure align to the line where the anchor is.

This works just fine, except when the anchor is near the bottom of the page, then my figures float into the vertical margins.

I can keep from having my figures overlap, but how to keep them from going into the margins?

Ideally if the bottom of the figure is below the text line, it would align it to the bottom margin rather than the line, without my having to manually change it.

Can that be done?

2015-07-02 07:27:15

Ken Endacott

Google "Delete all images from Word"

The best method is to use Find & Replace with the special Find "Graphic"

2015-07-01 18:16:33

tom roberts

Hi - does anyone know if it's possible to select all images in a document and remove them at once? my images are all floating below the text. i have to hit SELECT, SELECT OBJECTS and delete them individually. really a waste of time. thanks. tom

2015-06-30 00:31:21

Kristin C

Hi there,

Thanks for the helpful article. I was wondering if it helps to align to margin rather than paragraph and column?

Thanks, Kristin

2015-06-16 07:41:08

Harry Audus

Of course! Thanks again, Ken. The combination of your advice and my own playing around resolved the problem. I'm no more enamoured of the anchor and its mysterious behaviour, however.

2015-06-11 05:55:30

Ken Endacott

I realise that there is an very easy way to solve Harry's problem of aligning an in-line image.

1. Select the image and the space alongside.
2. Right click the selection and select font.
3. In the advanced tab click the Position drop down box and select Lowered
4. Enter the number of points to drop down.

2015-06-05 05:36:23


Thanks again, Ken. I will try out your method and download the tool.

2015-06-04 20:32:39

Ken Endacott

A floating image is word wrapped and cannot be inserted into the middle of a word. A work around is to break the word into two with a space and adjust the image's left and right text spacing.

2015-06-04 20:04:24

Ken Endacott

You can get the effect that you want by:
1. Convert the image from in-line to floating
2. Set wrapping style to Text around Shape
3. Set horizontal anchoring to character. Make sure that the vertical anchoring is to paragraph. Drag the anchor symbol to the character you want to anchor to.
4. Set the text spacing left and right to 1 point each.
5. Drag the image so that it is positioned where you want it relative to the anchor character. Because of the fine moves, probably best done at a zoom of 200%.

With Word's menu structure, all this becomes very tedious. However there is a free tool that makes it easy. See:

2015-06-04 06:42:36


Thanks, Ken. The way an image and its anchor are positioned is clearly rather dysfunctional, e.g. "the anchor moves in some mysterious fashion". I'm usually content to align images in line with text, but I recently wanted to put a very small image in a sentence. I used "in line with text", which located the image in the right place horizontally, but I wasn't happy with the vertical placement. The problem was that, with "in line with text", the bottom edge of the image is always aligned with the the text line. I really wanted to move the image down a bit while keeping it in the same place in the sentence. There doesn't seem to be any way to do this.
Any ideas?

2015-06-03 08:38:40

Ken Endacott

The anchor symbol does not tell much about a shape's anchoring. For that you need to right click the shape and select More Layout Options. Understanding anchoring helps explain why shapes move around when changes are made to the document. As can happen, two shapes 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 shape's offset is from the left hand paper edge. The anchor symbol is in the left hand margin.
Margin. Offset from the left hand margin. If the margin is changed then the shape moves with the margin. The anchor symbol is 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 offset can place the shape 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 shape.

Vertical anchor point:
Paragraph. Vertically offset from the first line of a paragraph. If that paragraph moves down then the shape moves with it. Dragging the shape up or down may cause the anchor to switch to another paragraph unless the anchor is locked.
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 shape moves with it.
Page. Offset from the top edge of the paper. However the anchor symbol is at the top of the nearest paragraph. If the paragraphs move down the position of the shape 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 shape will move vertically if the top margin is moved.

2015-06-03 00:08:59


Given that the object anchor is fixed at the start of a paragraph, what then is the difference between "relative to paragraph" and "relative to character" (assuming that the word "character" means the anchor symbol)?

More generally, what are the definitions of all these things that the object can be aligned to or relative to (i.e. margin, page, left margin, character, etc)?

2015-05-20 08:13:54

Ken Endacott

If the object is anchored to a paragraph then with Lock anchor off, the offsets from the anchor are automatically adjusted when the object is dragged vertically until it is moved close to the next paragraph at which stage the anchor changes to the next paragraph and offsets are re-adjusted.

Th same applies to anchoring to a line. Anchoring to a page or margin operates in a similar way.

If Lock anchor is on then the anchor is unchanged no matter how far the object is dragged and you cannot drag the anchor itself.

Lock anchor is most useful where there is a drawing comprising several objects and it is desirable that they all remain anchored to the same paragraph or line.

2015-05-19 12:46:39

Paul Bouscaren

The most helpful part of this tip is what was not stated (or maybe I missed it): Once the anchor is visible, you can then 'kedge' the document to where you want it. Now, 'kedge' is a nautical term which means to move the anchor in order to reposition the vessel...

2015-05-18 02:04:51

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2015-05-12 13:31:00


Very helpful article. Selecting "Lock anchor" while using Vertical Absolute position below Page allowed the text box to appear at a specific position on the last page.

2015-04-30 15:39:35


Just to know what "Lock Anchor" does was helpful to me. No place to be rude, Stephen and Pat.

2015-04-30 04:41:39


Well this helped me :) Thank you!

2015-04-22 14:29:01


Thanks for the kind words, Cliff.

It is hard to help people like Stephen when they give no idea of what they expected. "Microsoft jargon" is not a bad thing if one learns from it. It is, after all, Microsoft's program, and they can use whatever "jargon" they like to describe how their program works. I write with the intent of helping people understand how the pieces and parts of that program work.

Pat: Object anchors don't affect layout at all. As the tip points out, they only indicate the paragraph to which a floating object is "attached" in your document. If you want to get rid of them (as you imply), the only way to do so is to either delete your floating objects or convert them to inline objects.


2015-04-22 13:59:38

Cliff Pitt

Comments like "this tip is totally useless" or "Duh!" are not only rude they are discouraging to the writer. Stephen and PAT, I'm sure you hear those comments about your work often, but there's no reason to take it out on someone who is trying to help you.

2015-04-17 13:02:02


I agree. Not much use here. The reason why most people check this page out is to GET RID OF THE DARN THINGS and find out how the results impact your layout. Duh! (IMO)

2015-03-13 13:26:18

Stephen Mosley

This tip is totally useless. More Microsoft jargon and no real help. A waste of time.

2014-07-21 12:26:16

Marks PC Solution

When I choose Print Layout View in Office 2013, every line shows a border. I mean horizontal lines.

Is there any way to get rid of it please?

2014-07-15 05:05:42


I've been using a lot of screenshots in our company's docs. I want to change the options in Layout Window some times, as I position small icon images in sentences. Then, it would be helpful to have the option 'Allow Overlap' be deselected for inline position to avoid the overlap between icon and the text around it. Word doesn't allow this. I change the position option to another, say 'Square' or 'Tight' to deselect it. But, Word reselects the option once I go back to Inline. Is there a way around?

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