Which Image Types are Most Compatible With MS Word on All Printers?

By Andrew Aarons

Images in Word documents print as they appear on screen.
i Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Microsoft Office supports most of the common image formats, which means you can import almost any kind of photo or graphic into a Word document to print. As long as Word can open an image, you can print the image from Word. Certain image file-types print better than others, though image size and resolution affect print quality more than file type.


Microsoft Word supports images in most common file types: EMG, GIF, JPG, PNG, BMP, WMF and TIFF. Additionally, with the use of filters, you can add support to Word for images in CDR, CGM, EPS and PCT format. Once you’ve imported an image into Word, you’ll be able to print it as it appears on the screen. But some image formats are better than others for retaining quality, so when printing large images -- full page at 8.5 by 11 inches or bigger -- the type of file you use begins to matter.

Compression and Color Depth

Not all image file types are the same. Windows bitmap (BMP) files, and graphical interchange format (GIF) files, for example, have limited resolution and color depth. At maximum, GIF files can store 256 colors, while your printer may be able to create millions of colors. While Word supports GIF files, you won’t have the same depth of image as you might with a JPG or TIFF file, which can support photos and images at very high resolutions, without compression. To save hard drive space, programs compress BMP and GIF images, which can reduce print quality substantially. These image formats are often intended for use on the Web.


More than anything, the resolution of an image affects how it will print. If a photo is only 300 pixels wide, it will become grainy as you enlarge it in Word and it will look pixilated when you print it. In Word, you can change its size to be bigger or smaller, but compressed photos with small resolutions won’t print well on any printer, once enlarged in Word. Selecting high-resolution photos ensures that photos will print clearly.


When downloading photos from the Internet or saving photos in another program to import into Word, use JPG or TIFF formats. If you are creating your own image files, save JPGs at maximum quality and without compression for best printing results. TIFF files are almost never compressed, so all TIFF images will retain their details when stretched in Word. If your photos are appearing pixilated after you print, save the photo at a higher resolution and import it into Word again.