I have read every "help" source I can find so far and not found an answer to my question. I have created a word document which is a template for a book - it is not saved as a .dotx file, just a .docx. It contains some introductory text and illustrations, and a lot of empty space in a formatted heading layout for information to be pasted and photos to be inserted. The "empty" document is 1.2 MB, of which the illustrations are 1.1 MB. The full collection of 33 photos (JPEG files) to be inserted is 2.8 MB - average photo size is 85 KB. Once the text is pasted in to fill the empy space, the file is 1.4 MB (this includes the original 1.2 MB of the template file). When the 2.8 MB of photos are added, the file is 39.4 MB. How can that be, when the individual elements of the file total about 3.2 MB? All the photos have been compressed.

What else can I do to reduce the size of the file?

  • Which version of Microsoft Word? Are you inserting files via copy and paste from an image editor or are you using the menus to insert a picture? 2007 onwards inserts pictures in the format they came in and I've never seen this kind of bloat except when using copy and paste.
    – Mokubai
    Aug 5, 2012 at 7:58
  • 2
    Likely he cut and pasted the JPGs into place, losing their compression. Aug 5, 2012 at 9:12
  • support.office.com/en-us/article/… helps a lot to trat all the images of a bloated document...
    – Rmano
    Jul 18, 2016 at 13:52

11 Answers 11


Opening the image in Paint or something similar then using Ctrl-C (copy) and Ctrl-V (paste) is one thing that will cause this kind of horrifying bloatage.

When inserting images you should almost always use the Insert->Picture menu option as this will insert the image in (nearly) the exact same format as your source image. The same is not true of Copy-Pasting the image as Word does not know what format the image data on the clipboard is in (the clipboard will use a raw image format) and generally converts it to PNG that will keep all the image data that was present on the clipboard.

PNG is nowhere near as good at compression as JPG for photographic images and a typical JPG to PNG conversion like the Copy-Paste image insertion method will generally result in the file size balooning more and more as the source image size gets larger.

I have seen the picture insertion tool shrinking JPG files size, presumably it defaults to a JPEG compression setting of 85 and applies it on insertion of the image, but I have never seen it unduly making the images larger.

I just tested and it reduced a 600kb image to 120kb (which corresponded to JPEG compression 85 on the original) but that same image when saved to 50kb (JPEG compression 50) stayed at 50kb when inserted into Word

In almost all cases you want to use Insert->Picture even if it means that slight annoyance of saving the image first then hunting it down in the Word file select dialog.

Insert->Picture menu item


Interestingly, the docx format is actually nothing more than a zip-compressed archive with ".docx" in stead of ".zip". That said, it's entirely possible to extract the contents of any docx to a folder, then re-compress the contents using ultra compression and renaming the resulting zip file with the docx extension. This could substantially reduce the file size, depending on the contents. It may not be the most efficient way to reduce file size on a regular basis, but it's definitely a trick worth knowing about.

  • +1 for teaching me something new today. I wonder if this applies to other office formats.
    – Cfinley
    Jul 11, 2014 at 18:39
  • Yes, I believe it applies to all of the .extX formats.
    – 13ruce
    Jul 14, 2014 at 12:17

Click on Picture, then you can see an extra tab named as Format. In this at the left most column, there'd be a button for compress pictures. On clicking on this button, a new pop-up will get launched which will have options for reducing picture size and better compression. It'll help you to reduce the size of your word document.

More details here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Reduce-the-file-size-of-a-picture-8db7211c-d958-457c-babd-194109eb9535


For those people that do not have any photos in their document but still need to reduce the file size, I could reduce the size slightly by copying all of the contents in the old document, and pasting them inside of a new document.

  • 1
    Using this technique reduced the size of my Word document from 50 MB to 12 MB. May 27, 2016 at 14:50

I just discovered the solution to this filesize problem, at least for my case. I use WinWord 2010 on Windows 7 Enterprise SP1, and had a 80+MB .docx file which contained many many images. I did the usual COMPRESS IMAGES in Word but it reduced the filesize by less than 1%. Upon further investigation by unzipping the .docx file, I discovered that the images were duplicated within the .docx file. i.e. there were 2 copies of the same image within the .docx/zip file. This "phenomenon" is also reported here: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2010-word/word-2010-file-bloat/80f77059-10fa-4cb7-8bd2-ffd67e260761?page=1&tm=1429251536125 NOTE that this image duplication happens only when you're using the DRAWING CANVAS in Word2010. If you insert an image not within a DRAWING CANVAS, the duplication doesn't happen.

I tried deleting the duplicate images from the .zip file before renaming the .zip back to .docx. This had limited success. The filesize reduced by 40%, but some images didn't show up in the .docx file, which meant that I had deleted the "wrong" duplicate in some cases. Not wishing to go through the tedious process of incrementally finding out which duplicate to delete, I tinkered around saving and resaving the .docx file after getting some ideas from the web. Finally, the procedure below managed to reduce the filesize by at least 50% (yes, it eliminated the duplicate images internally).

  • Open the .docx file in question.
  • SAVE AS> Win97-2003 Document (*.doc); the resulting .doc file was smaller by about 20%.
  • Open the new smaller .doc file. Make a small change somewhere like type a character and delete it. Otherwise somehow, the filesize reduction is not so much in the next step.
  • SAVE AS > (.docx), to save as win2010 again; Ensure "Maintain compatibility with pervious versions of Word" is ticked.
  • The resulting .docx file will be smaller by about 50% of the original .docx file.

Hope this helps.

  • Some caveats to the above solution: - When saving as Win97-2003 Document, you will lose some "features" like: formulas will become images, etc. You will be warned by Word 2010 when performing this "downgrading".
    – cakey
    Apr 17, 2015 at 8:18

I suggest looking to see if your images are grouped together, either with captions or with other images. This can increase file size by duplicating the images in the internal structure of the file format.

I just did a little test.
One line of text with an image and a caption = 1 image in the docx (unzipped) Group the image and comment (commonplace to keep them together in the doc) = 2 images!!
So, seems images in groups are duplicated in the file format. Nice one Microsoft!


Once I converted the file (heh - a copy of it) to a .docx (the updated type from a .doc), the 'Compress' option suddenly appeared and became available under 'Format Picture' dropdown menu. (This 'Format Picture' dropdown menu appears just to the right of 'Home' when you click/select the picture in the document.) I compressed all the pictures with one click, after 4 hours of trying to compress them before. Until I converted this .doc to a .docx, 'Compress' did not even show.


On Word for Mac 2011, one can reduce the file size by navigating to File -> Reduce File Size... which will reduce all pictures in the document to a specified resolution. In my case, I was able to reduce a Word document with 15 or so pictures from 68 MB to 50 MB.


This is what i did. My word document was 35 MB and didn't have much and i would assume this had been caused by the copy and past of graphs that i had done which the compress picture function doesn't apply.

I saved my document in PDF format and it came to 1.5MB from just that process.

Then i went to the website www.pdf2doc.com and converted the pdf document back to word and it came to 4mb.


If you don't have pictures... Tables with a lot of rows in Microsoft Word 2010 will increase file size. (Also tables with over 3,000 rows starts to get a bit slow.) Excel 2010 will roughly store this data in half the file footprint.

If you are storing many hyperlinks, converting them to text will help. Copy then paste as text to overwrite.

An occasional FILE SAVE AS a new file will help.


I will add another possible answer to the docx filesize issue. As mentioned in other answers, Word saves a duplicate copy of many images inside the /media/ folder. This may or may not depend on whether the image is grouped, in a drawing canvas, has been resized, etc.

Office 2013 and greater has the option to read/write in Strict Open Document docx format. (the standard docx option saves the file in the 'Transitional' format specification which allows for significant backward compatibility.) I noticed that saving in this strict format in either Word 2013 or 2016 removes these duplicate image files and drastically reduces file size. I'm not currently aware of any particular format compatibility issues with this format, except possibly backward compatibility issues that were preserved in the Transitional format.

Opening a 'strict' format docx and resaving it in Office's standard docx format returns the new file to the original bloated file size.

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