Microsoft Word layout tip: view gridlines to anchor pictures

I posted a few days ago about gutters and margins for printed books. The flip-side of setting margins is keeping everything that gets printed within those margins. The easiest way to fall foul of this, and get those dreaded”you’ve got something outside of the printable area” errors, is with images. If you get as far as being ready to print, or in the internal viewer in Createspace, then this can cause a real headache.

The way to avoid this is to get in the habit of turning on  the ‘view gridlines’ option in Microsoft Word every time you use images. You don’t need it on all the time, just whenever you are laying out an image or changing any page setup parameters.

This is a screenshot of me working on a children’s book: Cassy Kindly and the Naughty Christmas Fairies (my son loves it). I’m in Word 2010 here. I’m sure it’s available in 2007 but I’m not sure how far back it goes in terms of Word versions. If you drag the image around the page, it’s very easy to place it outside of the printable area. But with gridlines on, that will be obvious.

Update: July 13th – What if the gridlines won’t show?

The day after posting this, I was laying out a book with images and followed my own advice to click View | Gridlines, but nothing happened! No matter how hard I clicked the mouse button, the gridlines wouldn’t show. The solution was to correct the values in the drawing grid dialog. It’s not a place I visit very often, so here’s how to get there…

Click page layout | Align | Grid settings. In the resulting dialog, I had some missing values. In the dialog shown below, check all the boxes ringed in red have numbers in them.


About Tim C. Taylor

Science fiction publisher and author of the bestselling Human Legion series. I live with my wife and young family in an English village. I am currently writing full time, when I'm not roped into building Lego.
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5 Responses to Microsoft Word layout tip: view gridlines to anchor pictures

  1. Laura Eno says:

    Great tip! I’ve never had pictures (yet) so I didn’t know about gridlines.

    • timctaylor says:

      That sounds like a challenge… time to add illustrations to your next novel! A friend of mine illustrated one of his supernatural thrillers by mocking up photos of key settings in his book. Seemed to work pretty well…

  2. Juli Hoffman says:

    That’a a great idea! (And simple.) Thanks for sharing this!!!!

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