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: Selecting a Graphic Behind a Text Box.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 15, 2014)
You can overlay graphics and text boxes in a document. This can lead to problems in easily selecting objects, however. For instance, if you place a graphic in your document and then place a text box over the top of it, the graphic is essentially "hidden" by the text box, even if you can see the graphic through the text box. You then cannot directly click on the graphic to select it.
There are several things you can do to select the "hidden" graphic. The answers depend, in part, on how the graphic was inserted in your document.
The first way to select the graphic is to simply select the text box and send it behind the graphic. Right-click the text box, then use the tool that is best for what you want to do: Order, Bring to Front, or Send to Back. You can then click on the graphic to select it. When you are done, again right-click on the text box, and use the same tools to adjust the position of the graphic relative to the text.
If the graphic is floating over the text, not inline, and it is markedly smaller than the text box that obscures it, you can display the Home tab of the ribbon, click Select in the Editing group, and then choose Select Objects. Word displays the Select Objects arrow; click the mouse somewhere outside the bounds of the text box. Hold down the mouse button as you drag to "surround" the graphic, but without surrounding the text box. When you let go of the mouse button, the graphic should be selected.
Another way to select the obscured graphic (if it is floating over the text) is to use the Tab or Ctrl+Tab keys. If you have an object selected—such as the text box—and you press either of these keys, then the next object in the document is selected. If the text box and the graphic are the only objects, then the keys cycle between the two.
You should note that the Tab or Ctrl+Tab method will only work if you start with the text box selected. If the insertion point is visible in the text box, then the text box itself is not selected. To select the text box, you need to click the border of the text box, and the insertion point disappears. If you press Tab or Ctrl+Tab while the insertion point is visible in the text box, then you only modify the text in the text box; you don't select the next object.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13310) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Selecting a Graphic Behind a Text Box.
The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!
Word allows you to add more than text to your documents; you can also add graphics. Once added, you can modify the size ...Discover More
Two of the long-time features in Word are text boxes and WordArt. You might not think these two are related, but they are ...Discover More
Do you struggle with getting your graphics and surrounding text to appear just the way you want it? Here are some ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.
Visit the WordTips channel on YouTube