I inserted some graphics in a document, but now I can’t see them; or there is just an empty box where one should be; or my graphics won’t print

Article contributed by Suzanne S. Barnhill and Dave Rado

The solutions

Word 2003 and earlier

If none of these suggestions help, see Graphics pasted from the Web, below.

Word 2007

If none of these suggestions help, see Graphics pasted from the Web, below.

The explanation

An understanding of the possibilities requires a little background. To understand how Word deals with and displays graphics and other objects in Word, see also the excellent article on this site The draw layer: a metaphysical space; and the excellent MSKB article WD97: General Information about Floating Objects. The articles explain the difference between floating and inline objects (and how to convert one to the other) and describe the various layers in Word.

Every document in Word has several layers, including the text layer, the drawing layer(s), and the header/footer layer. The header/footer layer is like the “background” in a page layout application: anything you put there will appear on every page (and can “float” anywhere on the page so long as it's anchored to the header or footer paragraph).

Text, unless it is in a text box (or a header or footer) is always in the text layer. Graphics can also be placed in the text layer. They are then said to be In Line With Text or “inline.” An inline object is part of the text stream and moves with it. Its formatting is determined by the formatting of the paragraph it is in (centered, left-aligned, with Spacing Before/After, and so on). Note that one reason an inline graphic may be incorrectly displayed is that the line spacing of the paragraph it is in has been set to an exact amount too small to accommodate the graphic.

Note: Objects in the text layer (inline objects) are visible in any view in Word 2003 and earlier; Word 2007 handles inline graphics somewhat differently. They are displayed as expected in Print Layout view. In Draft view, however, they are displayed as expected in Word 97–2003 format (Compatibility Mode) documents, but in Word 2007–format documents, there is just a blank space that can be selected.

Drawings (that is, AutoShapes created with the drawing tool, WordArt, text boxes, and “floating” or “wrapped” graphics) are in the drawing layer. They are not part of the text stream, though each has to be anchored to a text paragraph. They can float anywhere on the page, inside or outside the margins and can be Behind Text or In Front of Text or can have text wrapped around them in various ways. Objects in the drawing layer are visible in Print Layout view and Print Preview but not in Normal (Draft) view. Interestingly, a frame is a sort of hybrid object that can appear to float (and text can be wrapped around it), but it is actually inline and can be viewed (though not in position) in Normal (Draft) view.

So if you are in Normal (Draft) view, you will not see any floating (wrapped) objects at all. There are also several Options settings that further affect what graphics are visible.

Objects in the header and footer are (like the rest of the header/footer) dimmed except when you are working in the header/footer pane.

Graphics pasted from the Web

The default Paste behavior if you copy a picture from a Web site and paste into Word 2000 and above is to create a field such as:

{ INCLUDEPICTURE "http://www.whatever.com//temp.gif" \* MERGEFORMATINET }

(Incidentally, there doesn't appear to be any reference to the MergeFormatInet switch either in Word's Help or in the Microsoft Knowledge Base).

If the picture is wrapped (floating), you will need to change it to inline in order to see the field.

If you try pasting from a Web page when working offline, Word just hangs. And if you print your document when working offline, with “Update fields” enabled, your pictures just disappear.

The issue here is that most pictures displayed on Web pages are just links to the locations of the pictures online, and what you are pasting is that link. There are several ways to work around this: