How to work out the right size for images in MS Office

Instead of signing up for gym or telling yourself you’ll run at least once a week, try the following New Year’s resolution! Apply the right resolution for your images in the MS Office Suite.

To decide on the image size of your pictures in MS Office, you should always keep the target output at the back of your mind: is the picture part of a Word document that will be printed or is it inserted to a slide that will be projected?

The dialog box Compress Pictures on the contextual tab Picture Tools in Word provides good guidelines.

From this we can conclude that a printed picture should have minimum 220 ppi to look good on paper. But what does this mean exactly?

ppi stands for pixels per inch and 1 inch is equal to 2,54 cm

In terms of print, we express ourselves in centimeters or inches, we talk for example about an A4 of 21 cm x 29, 7 cm. So here is a little problem: suppose you insert a picture of 1024 x 664 pixels in your word document which you will eventually print. What are the maximum dimensions of the picture to make a print at a resolution of 220 ppi?

The answer is 11,82 x 7,67 cm or 4,65 x 3,02 inch. In this case these are the limits for a good print quality. (The calculation for e.g. the width in cm is 1024/220*2,54)

Forget about ppi, centimeters and inches to determine the resolution of your PowerPoint images. You just have to base the size of your digital images (in pixels) on the dimensions of your projection device (screen of projector). For example, if you project your presentation on your HD widescreen laptop with a screen-resolution of 1920 x 1080 (=1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high), a full-slide picture should have a resolution of minimum 1920 x 1080 pixels to look sharp. If the picture fills only the right half of the slide, the resolution should be 1920/2 x 1080 or 960 x 1080 pixels. Simple enough, right?

If you like to show a full-slide picture on a projector, your image should at least be 1024 x 768 pixels as this is quite a common resolution for projectors. Though, mind you, these days a lot of projectors are being welcomed in the high definition world, so if you know this is the case, just use 1920 x 1080.

And we haven’t started about 4K yet. ;)

How to number your slides

Sometimes it’s handy to have slide numbers to refer to. How to number your slides is fairly easy so I’ll keep it short and simple!

Go to the tab Insert and click on the command Slide Number in the group Text. The dialog box Header and Footer opens. Tick Slide number and choose Apply or Apply to All et voilà, a slide number appears on the slide(s).

dialog box header and footer








If this does not work, you will have to change some settings in the Slide Master View.
Go to the tab View and click on the command Slide Master. The first larger slide in the slide thumbnail pane on the right is the Master Layout. This slide controls the associated layouts underneath and is the key to a lot of settings and automatisms, like slide numbers.

Screenshot master layoutClick on the command Master Layout on the tab Slide Master and tick the placeholder Slide Number > OK. Now the Master Layout has the # sign which you can format and position as you want (take the look and feel of your organisation into account).

Master Layout






Each layout positioned beneath the Master Layout has Title and Footers (i.e. date, slide number and footer) as default placeholders. You can tick these placeholders’ checkboxes on or off on the tab Slide Master. So if the slide number does not show up after you’ve adjusted the Master Layout, tick Footers (which include slide number) for each associated layout.
show or hide the footer placeholder

As of now you shouldn’t have any issues displaying slide numbers in normal view. Close the master view, go to the tab Insert and click on the command Slide Number in the group Text. Tick Slide number and choose Apply or Apply to All.

How to make a tri-fold in MS Word

A lot of informational or promotional brochures are made in-house, often by an office, communication or business manager and often in MS Office. Although MS Publisher is the most appropriate application of the MS Office Suite to design a brochure, I explain in this article how to do the job in MS Word. For the reason that most office workers are more familiar with MS Word, also because the wordprocessor uses styles, which are a great help when it comes down to formatting textual content and simply because it is possible!

Starting from a blank (A4) document, this is how you make a trifold.

Go to the tab (Page) Layout, group Page Setup and adjust the following things:
Change the Page Orientation into Landscape.
Open the dropdown menu Margins and choose Narrow
(=1,27 cm or 0.5 inch for Top, Bottom, Left and Right margin)
Open the dropdown menu Columns > More Columns…the dialog box Columns opens.

The Number of columns depends on the desired number of folds: choose two columns if you want to make a bi-fold and three columns if you want to make a tri-fold. Since this article is about tri-folds I choose Three.

The distance between the columns has to be twice the space of the Margins. So if you have margins of 1,27 cm or 0.5 inch the Spacing has to be 2,54 cm or 1 inch.

As a trifold has 3 equal-size panels on each side it is important that the option Equal column Width is checked.

Check also Line between so you can see the fold line between the different columns or panels of the tri-fold. When you’re done with formatting and ready to print, you can uncheck this option again.

Click on OK

Now the document has the settings of a trifold, you can start designing. But which content belongs where? It is difficult to imagine the end result when looking at the blank pages on your screen. So, I advise to take a piece of paper, fold it as a trifold and number each panel to the order in which you would open it. The video below is a guideline.


Thus, the document is to be formatted as follows:

Tips to design your trifold further:

  • Activate your Show/Hide marks (tab Home, group Paragraph)
  • Add column breaks to ensure that each panel of your trifold contains information that stands by itself and makes sense (tab Page Layout, dropdown menu Breaks)
  • Like always, use the color palette and the fonts that are associated with the brand of your organisation. Hey, what did you think? ;)
  • Use Styles to format headings, standard text, list paragraph, quotes,… this is after all one of the advantages of working in MS Word. You can create a new style set or reuse a style set of a previous brochure (on condition that it is consistent with the corporate identity). Go to the tab Design and Save as a New Style Set… or choose a Custom Style Set.
  • Be creative! Change the background colour, insert several similar shapes and fill it with pictures, highlight special text in coloured text boxes/callouts, put one big picture behind the text of panel 2, 4 and 5 or panel 2 and 3 (as suggested in the video),… whatever you do, try to fit all elements within the look and feel of your organisation

On Pinterest you can find lots of examples to inspire you!

I’ve made a basic template for my colleagues of Howest to get started, containing styles and with the right Theme Fonts and Theme Colours. All content is adjustable.

Howest_template trifold
Howest_template trifold 2

And this is an example of a tri-fold I’ve made with the template, it’s in Dutch.

Howest_voorbeeld trifold

Howest_voorbeeld trifold 2