How to Fade a Picture in Microsoft Word

Although advanced image editing requires specialized software, Microsoft Word includes basic tweaks for altering the appearance of images and changing their transparency. With these adjustments, you can fade images to place them behind text and adjust their transparency to layer multiple images on top of one another.

Adjusting Saturation, Brightness and Contrast

Select a picture in a Word document and open the "Format" tab, which only appears after you click on a picture. To change the brightness or contrast, click "Corrections" and pick one of the samples. Click "Color" to modify the color intensity. The Color menu also has options to recolor the entire image, with choices such as "Washout" providing a faded effect. If you don't like the look of any of the samples, click "Picture Corrections Options" or "Picture Color Options" at the bottom of the Corrections or Color menu to adjust the levels manually.

Moving Images Behind Text

By default, inserted images move nearby text out of the way, avoiding situations where dark pictures cover up the text entirely. After fading out an image by tweaking its colors and brightness, you can safely change the image placement method to use the picture as a background. Choose "Wrap Text" on the Format tab and pick "Behind Text." This unlocks the picture's alignment, allowing you to drag it freely. If you can't make out the text, return to the Format tab to further adjust the image or try changing the text color.

Setting Transparency Levels

Word does not include a method to directly set the transparency of a picture, but you can place an image inside a drawn shape as a workaround. Use this method as an alternative way to place images behind text or to stack multiple partially transparent images on top of each other. Open the "Insert" menu and click "Shapes." Pick a rectangle and drag on the document to insert the shape. Right-click the shape, choose "Format Shape" and then the "Fill" tab. Choose "Picture or Texture Fill," press "File" and open the picture you want to insert. Finally, move the "Transparency" slider to fade the image. Optionally, click "Line Color" and "No Line" to turn off the shape's border. If you use this method, you don't need to change the "Wrap Text" setting to see text through the picture.

Image Formats

Whether you insert an image by clicking "Insert" and "Picture," or as the background of a shape, use a format compatible with Word. By default, Word supports most standard formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, PICT and EPS. You can enable support for a few obscure formats including WPG by modifying an entry in the Windows registry, but it's easier and safer to use an image-editing program to resave the image in a compatible format before inserting it in your Word document.