Feature change in Word 2011 prevents printing pictures

Microsoft Word users who have upgraded to Office for Mac 2011 may notice that suddenly they are unable to print pictures they’ve inserted or pasted into their Word documents. Or they may notice that files that they created and printed just fine in Word 2008 no longer print with their pictures when opened in Word 2011. Text doesn’t seem affected.

This problem is the result of an undocumented feature change in Word 2011. Although Word users can work around this feature change when creating new documents, they will either have to edit their older documents to accommodate the change or print using Word for Windows or older versions of Word for Mac.

Recreating the problem

What’s changed? Simply put: Pictures will no longer print when inserted or pasted into Word 2011’s text boxes.

To reproduce the problem do this:

  1. Launch Word 2011 and create a new Text Box on a new page using the drop down menu from the Insert tab of the ribbon.

    Word New Text Box

  2. Using the Text Box cursor, draw a text box on the page.

    Word new text box

  3. Add a little bit of text to the new text box. Then select Insert –> Photo –> Picture from File… and select a picture file such as a PDF, JPEG or GIF. Or just open the picture file in Preview and copy/paste the picture into the new text box in Word.

    Word Insert Picture

  4. Select File –> Print… and notice that the print preview itself does not include the picture but does include the text. Printing to paper or creating a PDF also results in text but no picture.

    Print dialog

Note that this doesn’t affect pictures inserted into the mainstream text area of the document. It only affects pictures placed into text boxes.

What happened?

The change in behavior is a design change in Word 2011 and is not considered a bug. It is the result of graphics changes made to the application. The result, however, is a two-fold problem.

  • Older versions of Word for Mac as well as Word for Windows still print pictures inserted into text boxes, making Word 2011 the only version that doesn’t.
  • Nothing stops the Word 2011 user from doing this or warning him about what will happen. Everything looks the same on screen. Only when previewing, printing or creating a PDF does this problem occur.

Furthermore, this change in behavior introduces a new problem where embedded or “anchored” images, such as small graphics used to separate paragraphs of text or precede a new text section, will no longer flow with the text.

This issue has no workaround other than to avoid the use of anchored images or to use Word 2011’s Publishing Layout view. Publishing Layout view, however, is not available in Word for Windows. Cross-platform document sharing will more than likely result in fidelity issues with the layout.

Word 2011 users who would like to see this behavior changed in future versions should use the Help –> Send Feedback tool found in any Office application.

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36 comments to Feature change in Word 2011 prevents printing pictures

  • James Katt

    Since I always paste graphics as graphics – rather than into a text box, which is meant for text – then I don’t run into this problem at all.

    I wonder how many people will actually be affected by this problem – particularly since pasting graphics into a text box is not intuitive.

    • Deborah

      James, in an earlier version of MSOffice, it was a *requirement* to put the graphic in a text box for wrap-around to work. I have done that in the past two versions as they didn’t work well to wrap-around a stand-alone graphic. I also used it to put the graphic in the Header/Footer, as the text box was the only way to specifically position the graphic as a watermark. I’m thrilled graphics will now work the same as in high-end software.

  • joefer59

    I also have the same problem and have not seen a sufficient and effective answer. I have tried everything from copy-pasting the jpg or png image file to using the insert command. Seems like there is no workaround to this and this is indeed a bug affecting MS Word on Mac users. I dont know if the same problem exists with Windows based machines

  • Doug Lake

    This is a BIG problem. I was printing out a test for my class the other day and 2 of 3 figures didn’t print even though I saw them on the screen. so I copied them into photoshop and saved as jpeg and tiff, then “pasted in as picture”, but still no figure printing. Very annoying! Another problem is taking a figure or picture from ppt and “paste as picture” into word doesn’t paste as it did in office 2008. It makes the figs text which means you can’t move them around the page. This is very bad. I hope microsoft fixes this soon.

  • Andruid

    It is true that Microsoft seems generally to be against anything that would make printing documents on win & mac compatible. In addition to this problem, on Win you must use .emf for vector graphics, while on Mac, pdf. Its only the 11th version of Office.

    What other disasters are there in this new version?

  • Jay

    I have found the work around for this problem. It did fix my problem and I hope it would fix yours too. If you save that file as “.doc” in office2011 you should not have that issue.

    • Anonymous

      brilliant!!! thank you so much!!!!!

    • lollydee

      Should of googled it BEFORE I wasted an hour and a half trying to get my pictures to appear. Simple and effective solution, thank you very much!

    • Henk

      Great, thanks Jay!

    • Me

      Jay you are my hero!!!

    • Don

      I often create simple graphics (curved or dashed lines, etc) in Word for use in Photoshop Elements, and was getting disappointing fuzzy transfer results when I copied and pasted from Word 2011 (Mac). Jay’s suggestion worked brilliantly – I just converted the file to a Word 97-2004 document, and voilà, problem solved. Thanks Jay, you saved me a lot of hassle.

  • Markus Ilg

    thx to Jay for the workaround!

  • Jef

    A horrendous downgrade. Please bring back the ability to pate pictures in text boxes. What will happen to all my old files when I no longer have a copy of Word 2004 installed, e.g. on my new machine? I will lose all my archived files. Microsoft wake up! What were you thiking?

  • Ric Somerville

    I accidentally found a fix for this problem. If you group the text box with something else, the group will print.

    So if you group two boxes together, they will both print.

    I simply group my text boxes with a transparent object, and all is well.

    Try it…

    • Ben

      This does work thanks! How ever I have noticed that it makes the pictures slightly fuzzy for some reason

      • Ben

        Aah If you insert the picture into the document directly (not in a text box) and you click on the format picture tab at the top this allows you to change the wrapping! Strange how right click format object didn’t allow you to change the wrapping even though it was an option there.

  • Bob

    I guess it does have a workaround at this time. THANKS!!

  • Ben you are the man. Thank you!!!

  • Fred

    Office 2011 for Mac SP1 (14.1.0) Update fixes the problem (released April 12, I think).

  • Roger

    I have always pasted pictures into text boxes since I find it to be the easiest way to keep the figure caption with the figure.

    I just discovered and got around the problem by using ‘save as’ to save the file as a Word 97-2004 doc file. I had to re-paste the picture in as a tiff file instead of a jpg file, but I don’t know if that is a standard problem. The jpg files that I export from Adobe Illustrator always show up as black boxes in mac doc files. Anyway, it then previewed and printed fine with the graphics in the text box.

  • theresa stone

    This bug is so frustrating but this fix absolutely works – thank you!

  • Debbie

    @Roger It’s possible that your images exported from Illustrator are not RGB, but CMYK. I’ve found that CMYK jpegs appear as solid black when inserted into Word.

  • Mark Willan

    The suggested workaround is no use to me.

    I work as a court translator/interpreter, and have to reproduce documents (mainly pdfs) as exactly as possible, including stamps, signatures, crests etc.

    The word 97-2004 format save does not help with graphics cut from pdfs, and so I find my work is being rejected by clients!

    This is the worst possible outcome.

    How was this supposed to be an improvement, anyone?

  • Nate

    Problem solved: See in the Preferences, “Print” tab “Include With Document” part, if the “Drawing Objects” box is checked? That’s a fairly common “issue” and one of the first thing to have a look at.

  • Marcellus Barrus

    We were having an issue with images showing up as black boxes. The image that we were using were JPEGs. We switched the file format to tiff for all the images and all is well.

    Also, we were able to pull in the document with now changes into Open Office for Mac and everything worked as it should. It seems to be an issue with Microsoft Word for Mac.

    • Marcellus Barrus

      We just did another test. CMYK jpegs print a black box. Changed the image format to RGB and it worked.

      @Debbie, Thanks for the tip. Black boxes are due to CMYK images.

  • Michael DN

    When I insert jpegs into a word doc using insert…picture, when I click on it no picture tab appears. No toolbar, no way to crop (yes, I can move and resize it) except with a dialog box.

  • Jaymie

    It appears all you need to do is “Save As” to an older Word format and BAM, they print. Worked like a charm for me.

  • nushagak girl

    ABSOLUTELY! Just had to SAVE AS a .doc file. It worked for me! Thanks mucho!

  • Ted

    When pasting large diagrams into a word document, text boxes are (were) a great way to ignore margin settings.

  • Jack T

    Fred has the right solution. Avoid all these workarounds, go download service pack 1 from the Microsoft website.

    http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads