Word image printing problem
August 2, 2006 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Word image resize fuzziness - can this be avoided? Wanting to put photographs in a document for professional printing.

Pasting the images at full quality and then resizing in Word results in the images looking fuzzy and out of focus.
If I import the images at 300dpi or higher will this quality be preserved if the image is resized within Word? Is there a way of finding out the dimensions of images on the page and then importing a photo at the desired size so no resize is necessary?
Is the fuzziness something to do with screen resolution?
posted by asok to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Is the fuzziness onscreen, or in print-out, and are you trying to solve fuzziness onscreen, or in print-out?

The onscreen document should have a preview of the image (possibly fuzzy) but the image should print in all (or most) of its glory when you go to print.

Have you done any test printings? (even on a home printer). Is the problem not limited to the (onscreen) preview?
posted by -harlequin- at 11:39 AM on August 2, 2006

Word is not an image processing tool. If you want to manipulate images to get print-quality results, you need something like PhotoShop or (much cheaper) Paint Shop Pro.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:56 AM on August 2, 2006

If you found a professional printer who will accept Word documents, maybe you could ask them.

Which of the import strategies are you using to get the images into the document? When I worked with Word, Import>Picture>From File worked best, but that was years ago.

What format are the images? Some formats scale better than others.

350dpi is far more than most printers deliver. are you sure you need that?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:57 AM on August 2, 2006

Kirth is correct. For best results in Word, use the "Import>Picture>From File" path for inserting pictures into the doc.

Many, many professional printers (NOT Kinkos) won't even take Word files. At least not for professional, offset printing. This is because the printing world speaks a language called Postscript. Word knows nothing about Postscript, thus it cannot provide a file that is understandable to the workflow...without a ton of extra work by the pre-press person, converting the file to something they can use. This will cost you extra $$$.

A printer that also does digital output (basically sending the file to a glorified inkjet) will take a Word file. If you are doing a set of individual pages (not a book), this would be the direction the printer will steer you.

Your best bet is to find a printer first, explain what your project is, and how you want it to end up, and ask them for recommendations on how to proceed. It's always best to consult with your professional before you drop a load on them. It will save you $$$ in the end.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:46 PM on August 2, 2006

Best answer: When you say you're resizing the image do you mean you're scaling it up or down? This makes a big difference. When you scale an image up you end up taking the effective resolution down. For instance if you scale it up to 150% you have an effective resolution of 200 dpi.

Now, given that, one way to assure that you have the graphic at its proper size is to create an FPO (for position only) image, place it in the Word doc, then use the Format Picture window to find out what the final size is. Create your image in Photoshop or whichever graphics program you use, using the information from the Format Picture window to determine the graphic's size.

Screen previews are rarely accurate, no matter what program you're using.

Inkjet proofs are innately fuzzy unless you've spent $5000 or more on yours.

350dpi is far more than most printers deliver. are you sure you need that?
Not true. I work as a prepress grunt at a professional printer and we routinely deliver resolution as high as 1200dpi. Some printers deliver higher.

Given that you're asking about a 300dpi image, I'm assuming that you're getting this professionally printed. If this is true, Thorzdad is on the money. Talk to your printer, they'll be able to steer you right. Some of us do take Word documents, some don't, but I can guarantee that talking first will clarify things a great deal. Better to do that during the planning stage when things are free rather than when the presses are spinning!

Also, Thorzdad's suggestion to use the Import function rather than copying and pasting is correct.
posted by lekvar at 1:47 PM on August 2, 2006

What they said.

If you're planning on professional output, it's probably because you want a professional look.

If so, use professional tools.

I like Corel Draw, though many turn their noses up at it. At a proper service bureau, it's perfectly usable for small-page-count output. As are Freehand and Illustrator, if you swing that way.

For larger documents, PageMaker or InDesign; for even larger documents up on into books, Ventura Publisher or Framemaker, and for encyclopediae -- or, y'know, the tech manuals for a 747 -- Interleaf TPS.

But not Word.

Word doesn't even do *word processing* all that well...
posted by baylink at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2006

Use professional tools, yes.

But also, and more importantly, make sure you have good source material. It may be too late in this particular case, but you should never have to size-up images if you're doing a professional job. If people give you inadequate material, push back until they accept that the result will be shitty, or they give you good sources.
posted by beerbajay at 4:01 PM on August 2, 2006

Incidentally, you can get PostScript output from Word (or anything else that can print in Windows) without needing any additional software, by installing a fake printer.

Start the Add Printer wizard in the Printers and Faxes folder. Select "local printer attached to this computer" and turn off "Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer". Under "Use the following port:" select "FILE: (Print to File)". Under "Manufacturer" select Agfa, and under "Model" select "Agfa Avantra 20".

Whatever you print to that printer will turn into a PostScript file.

If you can find out what PostScript printer your professional printer has, use that instead of the Agfa Avantra.

You can preview your PostScript files using GSView.
posted by flabdablet at 9:27 PM on August 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks people, nice tip for postscript flabdablet!

I asked the question on behalf of a family member who is not a mefite. She is writing her Phd using Word, I appreciate that a more professional level of software would be preferable , but learning something new at this stage is not an option.

She is resizing the images smaller as they are digital photographs and will not be taking up much of the page.

My usual response to Word problems is 'it probably will do what you want, but don't expect the help files to give you any indication of how it might be possible'. It is nice to know that some people can get Word to do what they want!
posted by asok at 1:59 AM on August 3, 2006

Word has serious problems handling images. They bloat a Word doc tremendously. It's not uncommon for a single small image to boost a file size from 100 k to 24 megs! (That happened to me recently with a short bulleted list I pasted from a Web site -- the bullets were a graphic.)

Solution: First, resize and optimize the images in an image editing program (Photoshop Elements is only about $80, GIMP is free). Save them.

Then use "Insert > Picture > From file" to stick them in your document.

Another tip: To keep from choking your PC on one huge bloated doc, make each chapter or section a separate file. Check the Help file for "Master Document" for detailed instructions.
posted by wordwhiz at 3:44 PM on August 4, 2006

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