What are the best ways to

  • ensure a small filesize for Microsoft Word documents when starting from scratch
  • reduce the size of existing Microsoft Word documents

using only tools available in the Office suite? (There's enough 15MB 3 page documents going around in the world)

  • Why do you want to optimize Word documents? You can just compress them after creation. It seems like there are much more significant space-saving techniques.
    – jtbandes
    Jul 17, 2009 at 8:43

3 Answers 3


Most of these will only help with existing documents, but saving as the Word 2007 DOCX format will help with new documents.

Word 2007

Compress Images

  1. Click on an image
  2. Go to the Picture Tools "Format" ribbon
  3. Click "Compress Pictures"

There are then various options for deleting cropped areas, lowering the resolution etc.

Save as DOCX

The new DOCX format is much smaller as it's basically a ZIP file wrapper. Try renaming a .docx file to .zip to look inside if you're curious.

Remove Hidden Data

See this article from Microsoft Remove hidden data and personal information from Office documents

Word 2003

Compress Images

  1. Right-click on an image
  2. Click "Show Picture Toolbar"
  3. Click "Compress Pictures"

Remove Hidden Data

Download the Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data - "With this add-in you can permanently remove hidden data and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint files."

  • 1
    I'd also consider preparing images at a resolution suited to the document's destination. If it is for on-screen use only, there's no point in leaving the image at 1600 dpi in the file. If its only ever to be printed in black and white, then prepare monochrome images since your image editor will do a better job of the conversion that just leaving it to chance downstream.
    – RBerteig
    Jul 17, 2009 at 20:22
  • You might want to avoid using the versioning features of Word too, they can add a lot of bulk to the document if there are lots of versions saved in the document.
    – Millhouse
    Oct 7, 2009 at 15:00
  • If Remove Hidden Data isn't clever enough for you, there's a third-party tool called WorkShare that has much more customizability. Not sure I'd actually recommend it, as it tends to make Word crash a lot. Oct 16, 2009 at 12:10
  • 3
    Additionally, ensure you're not embedding fonts in your document (Tools > Options > Save > untick "Embed Truetype fonts").
    – e100
    Nov 4, 2009 at 17:51
  • @elliot100: You should really have given this as an answer so that I could upvote it. This alone worked wonders for me!
    – Tom
    Feb 13, 2010 at 9:14

If you don't want to or can't install the Remove Hidden Data Add-in suggested by tjrobinson you can just select the entire document and paste it into a new Word doc. Then save it and you'll have gotten rid of the hidden data.


There are a few ways to do this:

  • Use the new Office Document format. (It generates XML and compress the file)
  • Ensure any external embedded media is optimized. Compress screenshots.

Other then that there isn't really much more I can suggest. This really depends on the type of document you are creating.

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