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How do you reduce the file size of documents in Microsoft Word?

Tips that Will Definitely Help Reduce a Document’s Size

Not every tip you find will be useful to you. Sometimes this is because they don’t apply to your situation (if you’ve got no images then tips on compressing images won’t be of use) 

Compress All of Your Images in One Go

Click File > Save As > More Options. (You may have “Save a Copy” rather than “Save As” if you’ve got OneDrive with AutoSave turned on.)

This opens the “Save As” dialog box, where you access some additional options. Click Tools > Compress Pictures.

This opens the “Compress pictures” panel, where you can decide on what compression you want to apply to all of your images at once.

The “Apply only to this picture” option is grayed out because this is an all or nothing tool—either all of your images will have these options applied when you save the document or none of them will. So if you want to choose different options for different images, this won’t work for you. But if you’re looking to compress all of your images in one go, this is the option to use.

Select your choices, click “OK,” and then save the new version of your document with all of the images compressed.

Convert Your Document to the DOCX Format

Microsoft released the DOCX format in Office 2007, so if you’re still using .doc format, it’s time to convert. The newer .docx file type essentially acts as a ZIP file by compressing the contents of the document, so simply converting a .doc file to the .docx format will make your document smaller. (This also applies to other Office formats like Excel (.xls to .xslx), PowerPoint (.ppt to .pptx) and Visio (.vsd to .vsdx) by the way.)

To convert your .doc file, open it in Word and click File > Info > Convert.

Insert Your Pictures Instead of Copying and Pasting Them

When you copy and paste an image into your document, Word makes certain assumptions about how to deal with it. 

One of these assumptions is that you want the pasted image to be a BMP format, which is a large file type, or sometimes PNG, which is still quite large. A simple alternative is to paste your image into an editing programme instead, save it as a smaller format like JPG, and then use Insert > Picture to insert the image into your document instead.

Copying and Pasting a small screenshot directly into an otherwise blank Word document made that document’s size jump from 22 KB to 548 KB.

Pasting that screenshot into Paint, saving it as a JPG, and then inserting that JPG into a blank document caused the document to jump to only 331 KB. That’s just over 40% smaller. Even better, using the GIF format resulted in a document that was over 60% smaller. Scaled up, that’s the difference between a 10 MB document and 4 MB document.

Of course, you can’t always get away with this. Sometimes, you’re going to need the better image quality that formats like BMP and PNG can offer. But if it’s a small image or you don’t need super high quality, using a lighter weight format and inserting the picture can help.

While You’re Saving Your Image, Do Your Editing

When you edit an image in Word, it stores all of your image edits as part of the document. The means if you crop an image in your document, Word still retains the full original image. Change an image to black and white, and Word still retains the original full-color image.

This increases the size of your document unnecessarily, so when you’ve made changes to your images, and you’re sure you don’t need to revert those images, you can have Word discard the editing data.

But better than removing unnecessary data from your document is not having that unnecessary data in your document in the first place. Any edits you can make, even simple ones like cropping or adding an arrow, are best done in an image editor before you insert the image into the document.

Remove Personal and Hidden Information from Your Document

Not only is personal information adding to the size of your document, but it’s also potentially giving your readers information you don’t want them to have. There might also be information that has been formatted as hidden, and if you don’t need this hidden text in the document, why not get rid of it?

Remove this unnecessary information from your document by heading to File > Info > Check for Issues and then clicking the “Inspect Document” button.

Make sure “Document Properties and Personal Information” is switched on and then click “Inspect.” When the Inspector has finished running, click “Remove All” in the “Document Properties and Personal Information” section.

This action reduced our test file size by 7 KB, so not a tremendous amount. However, it’s good practice to remove personal information from your files, so you should probably do this anyway. Be warned that you can’t recover this data after removing it, so make sure you’re happy for it to go before you remove it. You can do the same thing for the “Invisible Content” and “Hidden Text” options, but this will only make your file smaller if you’ve got hidden content.

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