How to crop a picture in Word

Sometimes, you might need to include pictures in your documents to supplement your content. MS Word offers the functionality to perform this—and more. You can insert pictures and use the formatting tools to edit them in your desired appearance. 

A formatting tool that is usually used in manipulating pictures is the crop tool. With this tool, you can remove unwanted portions of your pictures, retaining only the part that you want to emphasize.

In this article, you will learn the different methods on how you can crop pictures in MS Word. 

Shown below are just some of the cropping options you can perform.

Now, there are three methods you can use to crop pictures in MS Word.

3 Ways to Crop a Picture in MS Word

  • Crop a picture by manually setting the crop area
  • Crop a picture to a shape
  • Crop a picture to an aspect ratio

You can use each of these methods in different circumstances. Before you apply any of them, it’s important to understand which option is best for what circumstance.

Continue reading the next section of this article to help guide you as to when you should apply these cropping formats.

Let’s get started!

Why Should You Crop A Picture in MS Word?

Obviously, you would want the pictures in your documents to be appealing. One way of doing this is to ensure that you focus only on the area that needs proper emphasis. In MS Word, there are different options you can choose from to crop a picture. 

Suppose you want to edit your photo to keep only a desired area, you can do it by adjusting the cropping handles.

If you want a picture to take the form of a shape while removing unnecessary portions, there’s a feature you can use to get just the effect. All these features are available in MS Word and we’re here to help you access them.

Before you proceed with the methods, take note of the following rules of thumb:

  • Cropping a picture allows you to save space for the other contents in your document.
  • Crop a picture to a shape only if you want to apply an artistic effect on it.

Keep in mind that you can use all cropping options to a picture. Apply all necessary adjustments while cropping until you achieve your preferred output. Now, it’s time to learn the different methods.

Let’s dive right in!

Method 1: Crop a Picture Manually by Setting the Crop Area

The first on the list of methods allows you to directly manipulate the cropping handles. Cropping handles are the lines that appear around a picture when you select a Crop option. You will adjust them manually until you crop your picture into your preferred look.

Perform this method by following the steps below.

Step 1: Open the document that you need to format.

If you already have a document that contains the picture you need to crop, browse for it on your file storage and open it. If you don’t have it, you can just start with a blank document. Simply drag a test picture from your album to the document.

Shown below is an example of a document that contains a picture.

Step 2: Access the Format tab under Picture Tools on the ribbon.

The Format tab under Picture Tools appears on the ribbon when you select a picture in your document. If this tab is not displayed, click the picture you want to edit.

Afterwards, click the Format tab on the ribbon to make it active. From here, you need to focus on the Size group at the right-hand corner of your screen. You’ll find the Crop drop-down list here.

Step 3: Choose the appropriate option to display the cropping handles.

From the Size group under the Format tab, click on the Crop button. You may also click on its drop-down arrow below it to view additional options. From the list, click the Crop option.

Notice that cropping handles will appear around your picture. You can now adjust them to crop your picture. 

Step 4: Adjust the cropping handles

Define the area you want to keep and remove by adjusting the cropping handles. Click and drag each handle until you achieve your preferred crop area.

If you intend to keep the original ratio, hold down the Shift key while dragging the corner cropping handles. You can also keep the cropping area centered by holding down the Ctrl key while adjusting the handles.

As you adjust the cropping handles, you will notice that areas outside the cropping handles are highlighted in dark color. This shows you a quick preview on how your picture will look like once you complete the crop command.

In some situations, you need to adjust the picture area so that you can fix the layout of other objects in your document. You can also use the cropping handles to do this. Simply adjust the cropping handles outside the picture to extend the area that it will occupy. A sample image applying this concept is shown below.

When you apply this concept, you can move the picture in this area. Any portion of the picture that will extend beyond the area will be cropped.

Step 4: Finish applying the crop command and make necessary changes if needed.

Finalize your crop area and click anywhere outside the picture to apply the crop command. Upon doing so, you will notice that the selected picture will be cropped accordingly. Keep in mind that, MS Word stores the complete data of a photo even if you crop it. Suppose you want to readjust the crop area, you can always do it by repeating all the steps until you refined it to your desired appearance.

Method 2: Crop a Picture to a Shape

As the title implies, MS Word also offers a feature that allows you to make a selected picture take the form of a shape. You can choose from a collection of available shapes and apply it to your picture. This method will also make use of the Crop drop-down list that is available on the Format tab.

Below are the steps on how you can do it.

Step 1: Find and open the document that contains the picture.

Find the document in your computer that has the picture you need to crop. Double-click the file to open it in the MS Word program. In case you don’t have any document that contains pictures, you can always add one to your current document using the Insert Pictures command.

Step 2: Make the Format tab under Picture Tools active.

Selecting a picture in your document will display the Format tab on the ribbon. Make it active by clicking the picture you need to edit and subsequently, click the Format tab under Picture Tools. This tab contains the controls you will use for the next step.

Step 3: Select the shape that you will apply as the picture’s new form.

Focus on the Size group of the Format tab. In here, click the Crop drop-down button to display a list of additional commands. Move your mouse pointer over the Crop to Shape option. This will display a collection of shapes that you can apply. Decide on the shape that you need to apply and click it from the collection. Your picture will be cropped according to your selected shape.

Method 3: Crop a Picture to an Aspect Ratio

The last method on the list allows you to crop pictures into standard formats. You can choose among square, portrait, and landscape formats depending on your need. Use this method if you intend to crop a picture into a more formal appearance. A scenario that best exemplifies this is when you need to crop your own picture into an ID picture size. 

To use this method, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Locate the document that contains the picture and open it.

Just like the previous methods, you need to open first the document that has the picture you want to edit. Find the document in your file storage and open it in MS Word. You can also work on a new document provided that you insert a picture. Do it by dragging one from your storage to the document.

Step 2: Select the picture that you need to crop and open the Format tab.

In your document, click on the picture that you intend to crop. Notice that as you click on it, the Format tab appears on the ribbon. Activate the Format tab by clicking it. From the Format tab, locate the Size group. This contains the Aspect Ratio command that you will use in the next step.

Step 3: Select the desired aspect ratio

From the Size group, click on the Crop drop-down button to view a list of extra commands. Move your mouse pointer over the Aspect Ratio option to display the formats that you can apply. The Aspect Ratio options are grouped by Square, Portrait and Landscape. Click the option that satisfies your need. Upon clicking, the selected picture will automatically adapt to your option.


As you may have realized by now, there are a number of ways on how you can crop a picture in your document.

Keep in mind that the method that you will use will always depend on your purpose. Apply the methods discussed in this article and you will never be frustrated in cropping your pictures.

We hope you found this article helpful!

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