How to Remove a White Background on a Picture in Microsoft Word

By Kathleen O'Driscoll

Edit out the background from clipart or photographs using the "Remove Background" feature in Microsoft Word.

A background on a picture in Microsoft Word can be removed using the Remove Background feature. Eliminate an image background to allow the page background color, text or another image underneath that part of the picture to show through. Microsoft Word provides the tools to remove the background from clip art and photographs without leaving the program.

Remove a Background From Clip Art or a Photograph

In this example, the butterfly images are on a page in a Microsoft Word document that has a blue background. When the white background is removed from each picture, the blue background of the page shows through.

Step 1

Click to select the picture on which you want to remove the background. Under Picture Tools, click the Format tab. This tab appears when a picture is selected. Click Remove Background.

Tip

If you don't see the Remove Background option, select your picture and click on Format again.

Step 2

Background Removal menu

A bright magenta color indicates color to be removed, and a marquee is positioned to get you started with an area selection. Click and drag the white handles of the marquee to position the rectangle around the section of the picture that you want to keep intact. Make sure that all wanted parts of the image are included within the rectangle. Click Keep Changes or press Enter. In the blue butterfly picture, only the white background is removed.

Step 3

When the color you mark to remove also appears within then image, those areas are removed along with the background unless you mark them as areas to keep. If not marked, they are removed and the blue background shows through. Use the Mark Areas to Keep or Mark Areas to Remove options in the Background Removal tab to control details of the removal as needed.

Mark Areas to Keep

When you click Mark Areas to Keep a pencil icon appears. Use the pencil to click on any section marked magenta to retain its original color in the picture. A small plus symbol appears to indicate areas to keep and a minus symbol indicates removal. Click Delete Mark to remove a mark. Select Discard All Changes to restart the area selection process. Click Keep Changes or press Enter to complete the process.

Tip

The background color for clip art is often white, but the removal process is the same for any solid-color background.

Step 4

If the image contains an elaborate background rather than a simple solid color, you can still use the Remove Background tool. Part of a photograph can be separated from its surrounding content. The ease of removing the background depends on the composition of the photograph and the part you want to extract.

Select part of a photograph

For best results, position the marquee completely around the part you want to keep as tightly as possible. Use the Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Remove to refine your selection. Elaborate photos may require more detailed editing.

Tip

Learn more about the Remove Background feature and see other examples using photographs.

Step 5

Examine the picture when done. Look for areas that were removed unintentionally. Select Undo from the Edit menu or press Ctrl-Z to go back.

Butterfly pictures with backgrounds removed

Tip

Crop the picture to remove extra space that remains around the object. This is important if you want to add text or another graphic next to the picture you edited.