Working with object anchors

To exercise precise control over the position of objects, you need to understand object anchors.

To display object anchors:

  1. Choose Tools → Options.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Select Object anchors.

You can also view object anchors by clicking the Show/Hide Paragraph Marks button to display all hidden formatting characters. But since doing so shows spaces, tabs, and other marks that are not so critical to view, you are better served by turning object anchors on individually.

If you are working with the positioning of pictures, objects, drawings, etc., you should work with object anchors displayed (Tools ? Options ? View).

When you select an object in the document, such as a picture, drawing, embedded chart or diagram, or WordArt, you will see the object's anchor appear.

object anchor

The object anchor is attached to the beginning of a paragraph in the document. (Remember a paragraph can be a single line or an empty paragraph, i.e. a blank line.) The position of the object is generally defined as a position relative to the anchor.

  • If you move an object up or down slightly, it will modify its top and left position from the anchor.
  • If you move an object up or down significantly, the anchor itself will move to the closest paragraph, and the left and top positions will be set relative to the anchor.
  • You can drag the anchor to attach the anchor to a specific paragraph.

There may be times when you want to be able to move the object significantly but not move the anchor. You can do so by locking the position of the object anchor.

  1. Right-click the object and choose the Format command (e.g. Format AutoShape, Format Picture, etc.)
  2. Click the Layout tab.
  3. Click the Advanced button.

    Advanced Layout dialog box - Picture Position tab

  4. Select Lock anchor.

Once you have locked an object anchor, it stays attached to the paragraph. You can unlock the anchor and move the anchor if you need to.

On the Advanced Layout tab, you can also configure Move object with text. This setting, which is on by default, ensures that the object moves with the paragraph to which its anchor is attached.

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