Microsoft Word and Excel app on the display notebook closeup. Microsoft Office is an office suite of applications created by Microsoft.
Image: prima91/Adobe Stock

Microsoft Word documents aren’t just for text – depending on the document’s purpose, you might add graphics files, pictures and so on. You can also add icons in Word documents; these graphics are symbolic and universal, so inserting icons provides an immediate visual impact. I’ll show you how to insert icons in Word documents and then modify them in several ways.

SEE: 83 Excel tips every user should master (TechRepublic)

I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system. I recommend that you hold off on upgrading to Windows 11 until all the kinks are worked out. Icons are available only to Microsoft 365 subscribers. For your convenience, you can download the demonstration .docx file. I’m using Word, but you can insert icons in other Microsoft 365 apps.

How to access icons in Microsoft Word

Within the context of Microsoft 365, an icon is a symbol or graphic representation for options, files, software and so on. There and hundreds of icons representing all sorts of things. They’re free to use; there’s no royalty or copyright.

Although icons aren’t available to older versions, they’re as easy to insert as any other graphic file:

  1. Click where you want to insert the icon.
  2. Click the Insert tab and then click Icons in the Illustrations group (Figure A).
  3. In the resulting window, you can choose a category; I selected Arts (Figure B). There’s an arrow at the end of the category menu. You can click that to see even more categories, but don’t do so now.
  4. The available icons update as you choose categories or enter search text. Select the first clown (Figure C) and click Insert.

Figure A

Click the Icons option.
Click the Icons option in Word.

Figure B

Click the Arts category.
Click the Arts category.

That was super easy! Figure C shows the inserted icon, but we don’t have to stop here.

Figure C

Insert the clown icon.
Insert the clown icon into the Word doc.

How to modify icons in Word

The clown icon is OK as is, but you can make simple changes if you like: You can treat them like any other shape. Specifically, you can change the size, color, position and so on. Let’s make a few changes to brighten him up a bit, although honestly, even the icon creeps me out a bit.

First, let’s change the color and outline as follows:

  1. Select the icon.
  2. On the contextual Graphics Format tab, click Graphics Fill in the Graphics Styles group.
  3. From the resulting color palette select bright red.
  4. With the icon still selected, click the Graphics Outline option and choose black and a ¾ point weight.

Figure D shows the clown after making these quick changes, but we’re not done yet!

Figure D

You can modify the icon in several ways.
You can modify the icon in several ways in the Word doc.

Now let’s give him a bit of a nuclear glow using Graphics Effects:

  1. With the icon selected, click Graphics Format and choose Graphics Effects in the Graphics Styles group.
  2. From the dropdown, choose Glow.
  3. From the resulting list, choose the last orange thumbnail.

As you can see in Figure E, he glows!

Figure E

Add a glow effect to the clown icon.
Add a glow effect to the clown icon in the Word doc.

Right now, the clown is in portrait mode. Let’s rotate him a bit. With the icon selected, grab the Rotation handle and drag to the left or right a bit so he’s a bit askew. In addition, use one of the corner sizing handles to make the icon a bit larger.

Figure F

Now the clown is bigger and rotated a bit.
Now the clown is bigger and rotated a bit in the Word document.

Like most graphics, you also have many text-wrapping options available. You can learn more about these options by reading How to use the many text wrapping options in Microsoft Word. Let’s pull the text up around the icon as follows:

  1. With the icon selected, click the Layout Options SmartTag (circled in Figure F).
  2. In the resulting pane, click the Square option shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Choose a text-wrapping option.
Choose a text-wrapping option for your clown in the Word doc.

Figure H shows our finished clown icon after making several modifications, but we could’ve done more. For instance, the Graphics Styles gallery offers several preset options for quick outlines, colors and even transparency options. One of the most interesting options is Convert to Shape in the Change group. Selecting this option treats your icon as a group of shapes rather than a single object. In this way, you can change parts of the icon. For example, you might want to change the eye or hair color.

Figure H

We made several changes to this icon.
We made several changes to this icon to jazz up the Word doc.

Inserting and modifying an icon lets you set a mood. In this example, I went with fun, but in professional documents, you might want to add icons that represent your organization or your point in a graphical way.