Helping Students Insert Photos into Documents

From time to time, business professionals need to know how to insert photos into their documents. The goal may be an eye-catching flyer, a visually appealing persuasive message, an interesting report cover, or even a simple but attractive newsletter.

My students are currently working on messages to recruit volunteers for nonprofit organizations of their choice, and I’m requiring that each person’s message contain at least one photo to enhance the document’s persusasiveness. When I learned that most of the students did not know how to integrate a photo into a document, I walked them through the process in class. If you’re inexperienced in this area, here’s a little help for you.

The guides that Microsoft itself provides are ok, but they tend to be a bit tedious. One of the best guides I found on the Internet was a document prepared by the librarians at a university in Leicester, UK. In a clear, visually helpful way, it explains how to do the most important tasks: inserting the photo; selecting the type of text-wrapping one wants around the photo; resizing, rotating, and cropping the photo; adjusting contrast and brightness; and exploring the Picture Border and Picture Styles options. (It doesn’t cover adding a caption, but once you see how to do these other tasks, you can easily find how to do that.)

This guide is for Word 2007. If you’re using 2010, check out this webpage, which describes the new picture tools features that have been added to the 2007 features.

Of course, beyond making your students technologically able to insert pictures into documents, you’ll also need to discuss with them what makes a picture appropriate and helpful. When choosing pictures on their own, they need to be able to articulate the ways that the photo’s visual message corresponds to and supports the verbal message.  Giving them some sample writing scenarios and asking them to describe what kind of photo would help further the goal of  the communication can be a fun and instructive exercise.

The more visually oriented our culture becomes, the more likely it is that our students will need to add visual appeal to a document in the form of pictures. Fortunately, Word makes performing this task skillfully quite easy.

Have you been incorporating photos and other visual elements into your students’ writing assignments? If so, please share your ideas and strategies.

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