I'm currently writing a larger document in Word again and images (especially with captions) pose a few problems.

So far I have enumerated the following options and drawbacks:

  1. Insert images in their own line. The caption then is a paragraph above or below the image. This works fine, has no problems with image placement or disappearing images, as the image is just a token within the text and not floating. The problem is that I can insert images only between paragraphs with this method which sometimes has ugly results around page breaks (when the image doesn't fit on a previous page and shifts to the next, leaving a potentially large space at the end of a page).

  2. Insert images as floating elements, tying them to the page (e.g. top or bottom). This allows paragraphs to break around images if needed, potentially solving the space problem at the end of pages. However, image captions are inserted as a text field with absolute positioning on the page and don't shift when the image is moved e.g. from the top to the bottom of the page. Furthermore, the text field is the same width as the image by default which makes it difficult to provide captions for narrower images.

  3. Insert images and captions into a text field as inline items and then float the text field. This solves the problems with the caption as separate text field but still has one problem (which may apply to the previous one as well): Floating items are anchored to a paragraph and Word makes sure to retain both the floated item and the anchored paragraph on the same page, which again introduces page break problems in some cases. So I still have to go through the complete document at the end and move around the anchors so text flows like it should.

Maybe I'm doing everything wrong here, but hopefully not. Is there maybe another option that just works?

Side note: This is a Word question. I'm fully aware that I can convert the few dozen pages I have by now into LaTeX which likely introduces a whole host of different problems I need to solve, then. It is an option, but not one you need to give me here, thanks.

  • This sounds like the typical problems people have with Word, I do recommend using a DTP application for complex layouts, or perhaps just using a lot of un-bordered text boxes, unless anyone has any better suggestions! – Ruairi Fullam Jul 6 '11 at 20:36
  • Read my question again, especially the numbered item 3. Thank you. – Joey Jul 6 '11 at 21:27
  • @Joey - DTP apps are more flexible than Word, though great power comes with great responsibility. I only doubt Ruairis comment because I think you'll end up doing more manual setup rather than less. The usual workflow with DTP is that you prepare the text separately (often using Word), then create a DTP layout (or adapt a template) to when the text is pretty stable. If you're going to be updating the document a lot (as the issues you're having in Word suggest), DTP is likely to be even more of a hassle. Basically, DTP is primarily aimed at publishers, not authors. – Steve314 Nov 11 '11 at 2:24
  • @Joey - DocBook is worth a mention alongside LaTeX, but you're quite right to point out that these things introduce their own significant problems. Even setting up a working toolkit for DocBook can be tricky. Also, getting LaTeX (or DocBook) to place graphics where you want them is often non-trivial. – Steve314 Nov 11 '11 at 2:30
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    Ah - I really should check dates on questions. For some reason, the questions listed on the front page often aren't all that recent. Probably Henrys answer bumped it there yesterday. In any case, you should really do something to get this old question closed - accept an answer if any seems reasonable, or add your own answer then accept that. Last resort - flag it for moderator attention if you think it should just be closed or deleted. – Steve314 Nov 12 '11 at 2:45

If you use the top/bottom wrap setting and anchor the image to the paragraph above or below - and "group" the caption (created AFTER the image is in top/bottom wrap mode) with the image - everything stays together and moves with the text.

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    That's how I usually do it. However, sometimes I work with grouped images and have to change some image afterwards, which makes it a bit annoying. – TJJ Mar 15 '18 at 20:54

The reason why there's several ways of doing this is because there's no one perfect solution for every case.

You seem to have a fair idea of the pros and cons of each approach. Pick whatever you think will work in each case. Don't stress about it, though, as it's easy enough to change later.

Personally, in LibreOffice Writer, I seem to use anchor-as-character around 90% of the time, with the illustration in a paragraph of its own, and with a centered paragraph style. If I had lots of smaller graphics, though, I'd probably take a different approach.

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Maybe this is dumb but: Create a table of one column, two cells - put the image in the first cell, and the text in the second one.

Edit table and cell properties to get borders, margins etc etc as you desire.

Does that fit your needs?

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    And how would the text flow from the previous page into the table and out of it into the next page? I'm not trying to build just a single page; it's a document of a few dozen pages ... – Joey Jul 13 '11 at 17:25

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