When you insert a graphics object of any sort into a Word document—pictures, clip art, charts, SmartArt—it is inserted inline with the text on the text layer. Word treats it as just another character of text. Big. Funny looking. But just another character. When you drag it to a new location within your text it acts just like a character on that line, within that paragraph. This is not the behavior that most people are looking for when inserting graphics. What most folks want is a graphic that the text flows around, book or magazine style, and often then have special needs to display the text in very specific patterns near or around the art work. That is what text wrap (often called ‘word wrap’) is all about.
Word has both a text layer and a graphics layer. As indicated above, when a graphic is first inserted into a document it is placed on the text layer as just another character inline with the rest of the characters. Text cannot wrap around the graphic until it is moved to the graphics layer. (In fact, there are two graphics layers, one above and one beneath the text, but forget about this complication for now). Your graphic is moved to the graphics layer when you choose a text wrap option other than inline. All of the other options make it a ‘floating’ graphic, rather than an inline graphic, which means it can be moved anywhere you wish.
To apply another text wrap option select the graphic, then on the Picture Tools tab select the option you wish from among six presets: Square, Tight, Through, Top and Bottom, Behind Text or In Front of Text.
Selecting Behind Text will place your graphic on the layer behind the document text. This is not often needed. Nor is the In Front of Text choice, so let’s forget these for now.
The other four vary a bit, and their names are descriptive of their function. Square and Tight are the same, except that Square keeps text outside the actual rectangular borders of the graphic. Tight allows text into any transparent background areas within the graphic’s borders. (All graphics are rectangular in shape, of course, but the existence of a transparent layer within the graphic’s borders gives the illusion of irregular shapes.
Through is another odd choice, and is little used, and in truth varies little from Tight. Top and Bottom is simply a variation on Square with one of the More Layout Options… chosen.
So what about those More Layout Options?
Selecting that menu choice brings up the following dialog.
The Wrap text and Distance from text options will only be available if you have already changed the Wrapping style from Inline to one of the other choices.
I have found the Left only and Right only choices useful when inserting an Excel chart, positioning it slightly to one side of a document, but not all the way to the margin, and flowing text down a single side of it.
I have only rarely used the Distance from text settings, favoring the other option that becomes available when a non-Inline option is chosen: Edit Wrap Points. Edit Wrap Points gives ultimate control to text wrap around a graphic. Click it and a red border appears around your graphic.
Place your cursor anywhere on the red border and drag to control text wrap with precision.
If Wrap Points are drug inside the field of the graphic, text flows there. If far outside, text stays away. This is the ultimate in control. Remember, it is only available once you have chosen one of the non-Inline wrapping options.
These options are also available on the graphic’s context menu too. Simply right-click the graphic, move your cursor down to Wrap text, and a sub-menu with the same choices will appear.
Summary: To gain control over text wrap in your document, select your graphic and choose a non-Inline layout style to move it to the graphics layer where it can float; drag the graphic approximately where you want it; use the Layout Options to control major text flow control; if you need very fine tuning edit the Wrap Points. Simple.