Department of Engineering

IT Services

Importing Graphics into Microsoft Word

You may sometimes need to import into Word some graphics files created on a unix machine (the Teaching System machines, for example). This shouldn't usually be a problem, but a little knowledge about file formats help.

File Formats

Graphics files come in many formats. Some of these formats are very specialised (for use with one particular program, for instance) but a few formats are widely used on many types of machines.

  • Postscript was invented a long time ago. It's suited to line drawings rather than photos. A slight variant of it called Encapsulated PostScript is used for files that are going to be embedded in another document.
  • JPEG (short for the 'Joint Photographic Experts Group') files are designed for efficient storage of photos.
  • GIF files are good for cartoon-style images and are common on the WWW. They're gradually being replaced by PNG files.
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics) files was designed to replace the older and simpler GIF format and, to some extent, the much more complex TIFF format.

Though you can store any image in these formats, choosing an inappropriate format might result in a bigger than necessary file.

Word understands some formats directly and can understand others as long as an appropriate graphics filter is installed. Which graphics filters are available on your machine depends on how new your Word is and whether a full installation was done.

  • With "MS Office 98", no filter is needed for JPEG and PNG files, and a full install provides EPS and GIF filters. To see which filters you have installed, click on the "Insert" menu, and choose the "Picture" item, pick the "From File" dialog box then look at the "File of type" list. Use Word's friendly "help" facility for details.
  • With "MS Word2000" the following actions were necessary to use an eps file
    • Open the eps file using Photoshop 6 and save as jpg.
    • Open the Photoshop jpg file using IrfanView (on the operators' machine Operpc2) and again save as jpg.
    • Insert the resulting IrfanView jpg file into Word doc

Postscript files and previews

EPS files are rather hard to understand. Word processors like Word can't usually show you the exact image in the file, but EPS files can contain a simplified preview image that word processors can display. If there's no preview image all you'll see is a blank rectangle or a filename. Preview images can be in many formats too - TIFF and WMF (Windows Metaformat) being common.

If you have a printer that understands postscript (the Teaching System ones do) the full eps image will be printed out, otherwise the preview image (if any) will be used.

Teaching System Programs

Because postscript is such an established format, it's a common choice when moving images from the Teaching System to Mac/Windows machines. However, some programs provide better support than others.

  • Matlab's print option can produce various types of output file. Type "help print" inside matlab for details. Examples include
    • "print -depsc -tiff" - colour postscript with a TIFF preview
    • "print -djpeg" - JPEG (note that you can control the amount of compression and loss of quality of this image)
    • "print -dpng" - Portable Network Graphic 24-bit truecolor image
  • import - for screendumps. Type "man import" for details. gimp also has a screendump option
  • Pro/Engineer?

Some programs will only produce Postscript (rather than Encapsulated Postscript). The program ps2epsi on the Teaching System tries to convert PS files into EPS with a preview image. Type "man ps2epsi" for details.


To print out files with embedded EPS files you'll need a Postscript Printer (or something that simulates one). The Advanced Printing page describes how to use the Teaching System printers to print out Word files.