How to Reduce MS Word File Size – Tip 3


In the final article in this series, we look at the role graphics play in determining the file size.

In many respects, the ease in which you can create a Microsoft Word file is its own undoing. Both Adobe FrameMaker and MS Word have similar approaches to importing graphics.

But after almost ten years using both (FrameMaker since 5.0 and Word since 2.0), I’d opt for Word most every time. FrameMaker is terrific; but if you’re in a hurry, Word wins hands-down. And, in the IT industry, you’re in a hurry most all the time.

Hang on! Let’s get back on-track.

To recap: in the first two articles, we showed how 1) styles for bullet lists and 2) HTML to Word conversions can both reduce the file size.

The third approach concerns graphics. As I mentioned earlier, you can very quickly cut/paste graphics into files with a minimum of fuss. Even better, Word accepts a broad range of file formats.

Here’s the problem: mixing different graphic file formats in the same document places Word under great strain. It can cope with this up to a point. But after this, the base template, usually, begins its descent into chaos.

As it collapses, it starts ‘’chasing its tail’ by creates multiple pointers to different sections in the template. Very soon, the file size just explodes.

Did you know? When you paste a graphic into Word, it gets converted into a BMP file. This is bad news for two reasons. BMP (bitmap) files are low quality and very large in size. GIFs, JPGs or PNGs are much more efficient!

Instead, here’s what to do:

1. Try to avoid pasting graphics directly into Word. Instead, open an image-editing tool, create a naming convention, and label them accordingly.2. In the image-editing tool, save the files with a GIF file extension. These files are significantly smaller than BMP files, and have a higher resolution.

Resolutions: JPGs have an even higher resolution that GIFs, but tend to be slightly larger. Experiment and see what works best!

3. In Word, import the graphic files by referencing them. Go to Insert | Picture | From File or Insert | Object.

This approach protects Word from degrading and, even with the largest files, should ensure that the file size does not become unmanageable.

I hoped you enjoyed these three ‘insider secrets’ from the tech docs frontline. What’s been your experience using Word?