How to keep image anchor in place?

I placed an image in a writer document.
I anchored it to a character.
I moved the image by mouse drag.
As result the anchor changed its position, which I don’t want.

How to tell writer to keep the anchor where I put it?



What I see from Mike Kaganski’s links is that it is best to use Arrow keys (+Shift for larger movements, +Alt for smaller) or Position and Size dialogue to move the image rather than the mouse. That is, until the proposed modifier key is implemented.

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Writer is primiraly intended to be driven by styles. The most known styles are for pargraphs and “characters”. There are also styles for pages and, what you’re interested in, frames. A frame is any “block” not part of main text flow: a side/margin note, an image, an OLE object, …

Positioning with mouse is offered as a quick’n’dirty substitute to frame configuration through a properties dialog. And usually this is not what you desire as in your case where “implicitly” manually moving the image has a side effect on anchor.

You have to ways to fix the issue:

  • direct formatting
  1. right-click on the image and Properties
  2. the Type tab contains all settings regarding position
  3. Wrap tab allows you to define interaction between the frame and your text
    I recommend to untick Allow overlap which is ticked by default. Without the mark, neighbouring images will rearrange themselves automatically so that none hides another.
  • styling
    Once you have experimented with the previous method and all your images have the same relative positioning constraints (which can easily be done due to the vast choice of positioning references), collect all the properties in a frame style. Then after inserting an image, you just apply your style and your image will move to the (relative) position defined by your style without the need to spend a long time to tune it manually.
    One word of caution: frame styles are not as user-friendly as other style categories. After you modify them, changes are not automatically applied to existing images under same style. You must apply another style before reapplying your style for the changes to take effect.

EDIT 2023-03-19

I think I understood the problem but developers should confirm my guess.

Your image end up as a drawing object. Drawing objects are quite special because they add “decorations” to the text without interfering with it. Consider they have an intrinsic transparency and always enabled overlap property.

Apparently, once you have defined their location, the geometric position is converted into a fixed offset relative to the anchor. From my experiments, if you move the image, the anchor will move in order to remain at the same relative position. Symmetrically, if you move the anchor, the image moves for the same reason (fixed offset position).

The solution is to create a frame around the drawing object so that you can apply a style to it or right-click+Properties to control its exact position. The simplest way is:

  1. right-click on the image
  2. Insert Caption
  3. OK without entering any real caption (unless you want it)
  4. delete caption text
  5. eventually set font size to 2pt and spacing above/below to 0cm in the caption paragraph

The image is now jailed into the frame and can move only inside the frame.

Now, you have a frame which is controllable. My settings in Type tab are:

  • Anchor * To paragraph*
  • Position Horizontal: Center relative to Right of page text area to send it centered into the right margin
  • Position Vertical: Top relative to Entire paragraph area

With a frame, your anchor is stable.

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Thanks for the explanation - very understandable. But positioning the images by mouse drag is quick and works well for me. The images will be of different sizes, some need overlapping others don’t etc. This would lead to numerous (to much) styles in the end. It is much more comfortable to just drag them where I need them. Another disavantage is that the position dialog is not updating in realtime. One has to first open it, then type in a value, then close it, then open it again to adjust the value, close it again and so on. Mouse drag on the other hand is quick and offers the needed feedback.

It is only the anchor that hinders me to do what I want. Do you also have a solution for how to lock the anchor to its initial postion?

Images of different sizes can be positioned with the same frame style if you choose adequately the reference location. In such a case, I’d align the right edge of the image on the right margin, letting the image extend to the left as needed with an ad-hoc wrap mode.

Overlapping can be handled with the anchor location (when Allow overlap is ticked).

There is some redundancy between anchor location (in To character mode) and position parameters. According to my use, To character is meaningful only when the paragraph straddles a page boundary. The frame will be laid out either with the first part of the paragraph or the end part on next page as anchor and frame are set on the same page (well, there are very subtle exceptions but I won’t elaborate on them if you’re not familiar with frame styles – which are rather difficult to tame in their present implementation).

So, what is your purpose in choosing a specific character to anchor your frame? According to the screenshot, you have a 3-column page (2 columns defined in the section configuration and one right margin for the images, though it is difficult to tell as View>Formatting Marks and other visual clues have not been enabled). Consequently there is practically no interaction between images and text. Thus, anchoring To paragraph may be sufficient and this mode is very stable. Explain your positioning expectation.

If you are interested in where an image is located on a page rather than how it is located in relation to certain text, you can anchor the image to the page.

Certainly NOT! The image will be glued to the physical page, no matter how text is modified. And if text is shrinked to the point it is no longer on this page (and other preceding pages), your document will still show this page (with the same absolute page number) and possibly undeletable blank pages before.

To page is provided as a substitute for page-oriented documents. But these are better managed with DTP applications like FOSS Scribus or proprietray Quark XPress.

Even with To paragraph or To character, a frame can be sent anywhere in the page. Just select Entire page or Page text area as the reference in the position section of Type frame tab.

To page anchor is very special. The frame loses any relation with paragraphs. Before using it, you must thoroughly understand the consequences.

Anchor and position are two different things. Anchor sets the relation between frame and text, except To page which detaches it. The anchor tells how the frame will move when text is edited. It defines in which page the frame is drawn, i.e. if the anchor shifts to another page, the frame follows.

Position is considered once the page is determined. You can restrict it to margins, paragraph bounding box or drop restrictions to send it anywhere in the page.

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Thanks for taking the time to help me.

I think, I tried now every possible combination of postioning and anchoring of images. For some reason Writer always has its own mind.

I just can repeat my initial question:
Is there a way to lock the anchor to my chosen position ?

A few examples of Writer’s stubborn behaviour to ignore my anchor postion:

Ok, new users can only post one image at a time (sigh).

Here is link to the document:

Tell, using layman words, where the image should be positioned and to which paragraph it should be anchored.
EDIT: after preliminary analysis, I suspect it is related to the fact you have a “drawing object” instead of a full-fledged image. Then no style can be applied and you fall into the various idiosyncrasies of drawing objects which are “external” to text and difficult to relate to it. So, give also details on how you made the image and you inserted into the document.

Then just start reading again from top:

  • No, because there is a method, but according to the bug reports above, the anchor is moved, when you try to move the image by mouse.(Fine example, why “wysiwyg” is not enough.)
  • Yes there is a work-around, if you do the movement by keyboard as @EarnestAl noted above
  • Yes, there is a work-around, if you put the picture in a frame. But obviously more “work” needed.
  • The third option to anchor to page is not useful for longer text wich is edited often. May be used for shorter text like simple Invitation-cards, flyers etc.

Nobody doubted your findings, so nothing to prove with screenshots. But thanks for sharing the actual document. There one could find out details of your work.
The remaining question would be, if one can create an easy workflow to get pictures directly placed in a suitable frame. Perhaps something for a macro?

Checking your pictures I’d say: Using the dialogue works as expected. If you compare the positions +20/-1 from your first picture to 14/0 the picture is moved as “the user - made a decision” to use your term.
In the last picture you complain about Writer “again” moving anchor when you move the picture. Actually this is good, as it is consistent - if one like it or not. Consistent behaviour could maybe changed by developers.

Again thanks to all.

I think I tried every combination of frame types and positioning.

Conclusion: No, what I like to achieve is not possible with Writer.
Even though I am impressed with the software (downloaded it the first time), I am surprised about how this manual positioning of frames is implemented.

In my experience most software works with some kind of hirarchy:

  • fully automtic decision by the software - lowest hirarchy
  • style driven - middle hirarchy - this overwrites fully automatic
  • manual decision by user - highest hirarchy - overwrites the other two

That’s what I normally expect - but in case of Wrter the user decision regarding where to place the frame and the anchor gets partly overwritten by the fully automatic decision (contrary to Wanderer, I personally think, this is not good). This is where my confusion came from and I though I am missing something. But with your help I now understand that this is how Writer works.

I like to make some creative common “explanation docs” for an online community of hobby 3d people. Idea is to have a flowing text on the left side and descriptive graphics on the right side. Intended use is destop viewing in PDF format.

Doing this, I wanted to try out a two column design. I thought that would be easy - but:

  • I tried “Softmaker Office” my standard office package
    This has a feature to let headlines span columns but it is so buggy that it is unusable for my purpose

  • I then tried Affinity Publisher
    Guess what; it does not have a span columns feature and the workarounds are so complicated that it is also unusable for my purpose

  • I then tried LibreOffice
    Here I could live with the need to create styles but the “jumping anchor” is what I don’t like.

  • I then tried Scribus
    Could not find out how to achieve flowing text with columns and spanning headlines - and it crashed, so gave up on that.

  • Luckily I have a license of Adobe master collection CS6 (it is 12 years old).
    Never used Indesign of this package but did now and found out, this software does exactly what I need. It has columns, headlines that can span columns, styles for text and frames and manual positioning of frames and anchors that follows the user decision.

Conclusion 1:
In the end I will use Adobe Indesing for this work (or maybe switch back to single column layout that can be done in Affinity Publisher, Writer, Softmaker as well).

Conclusion 2:
Seems so I will use LibreOffice instead of Softmaker for standard office documents in the future.

Note: I am not related in any way to adobe, on the contrary I dislike their subscription model and did alot to replace their products with alternatives.

Actually your idea is more like a table. I’m creating this kind of things as a database report from Base in Writer. But there I don’t need to edit manual positioning afterwards, it is fully automated. But pagination has sometimes issues.
For Scribus i use an older version - quite ugly, but more stable than the newer release I tried for a week…
InDesign is a fine piece of software, but also has sometimes issues with stability. Can neither comment on your old version nor on details, as I do not use Indesign myself. But the above named database also provides text and illustrations via xml to a current InDesign on MacOS. As we use the system for 5 years now, problems obviously can be managed.


My remark was not aimed at the moving of the anchor (wich is a bug) but at your complaint of writer doing this “again”. A reproducable error can be found and fixed in source-code, so “again” is good. A “changes sometimes” is hard to find, therefore “bad” for somebody fixing the bug.