Printed from
You are viewing the old version of this website. Visit the new site with updated content at

Putting your own pictures into WWS 2000

In this tutorial we are going to look at adding your own photographs in to a Writing With Symbols wordlist. This is fairly simple to accomplish and has great benefits for the young person using the software or the grids that you are printing.

Why bother?

Ooh blimey computers - what a hassle! I've seen plenty of communication grids that have lists of friends and family members but with very generic symbols. Even using the F11 key to get the 'man' symbol above the name 'James' or the 'cousin' symbol above 'Daisy', you'll soon find you're repeating symbols for their various acquaintances.

Brian SymbolDaisy symbolBig Dave symbolMum symbolHalitosis symbolJames symbol

It's not difficult to replace these with real photographs - and I think that it's well worth the 'hassle' :)

Taking Good Photographs for Symbol Use

Follow this link for some tips on how to take and prepare a good photograph to be used as a symbol.

Get cracking with WWS2K

Launch Writing With Symbols 2000 from the the desktop icon or the Start Menu. This tutorial should work with all versions of Writing With Symbols 2000 but we recommend upgrading to the latest version (currently 2.6) to ensure greatest reliability. You should be able to upgrade (at least to version 2.035) by downloading a file from Widgit's Website.

Front screen

The Front Screen. This is the first screen that pops up on the newer versions of Writing With Symbols. Select 'Symbol Processor'. If this screen doesn't appear don't worry - just move on to the next step.

WWS 2000

Writing With Symbols should launch in to a blank document. You can check the version number of your software by looking on the 'title bar' (the strip along the very top of the program). If you're running anything below version 2.035 you can download a free update from Widgit's website here.

Link to external graphic

Ok, let's get cracking. Go to the Images menu at the top of the screen and select "Link to External Graphic" ('Graphic' is just a computer-term for picture)

External link dialog

In the window that pops up you need to do two things before you press OK. I recommend that you start by clicking on Find A Graphic in order to - you guessed it - find a graphic. You could do this in the other order (by choosing 'What-to-type' first), but there's a reason why I do it this way (as you'll see in a bit!)

Open location

Where you find your picture depends on the type of digital camera you are using, or where you saved your scanned picture. I'm afraid I'll have to leave this in your hands - you could have saved your pictures anywhere! If your camera saves on to a floppy disk then this will usually be your A: drive. If you connect a USB cable to your computer then the chances are it will be your E: drive or higher.


Once you've found the folder in which your photographs are contained it's just a matter of selecting the one you're after and pressing the Open button. Note that I am using Windows XP so I get little thumbnails of the pictures I'm looking for. If you've got an older computer you might have to settle for a list of filenames without thumbnails (this is why I always go to Find a graphic before choosing what to type). Incidentally, if you were wondering, these other pictures are (from top-left): Countryside just outside Southampton; Christchurch park in Ipswich; Birmingham city centre; My Christmas tree; and a Church (was intended to be the chapel for Wolsey's college).

What to type

So with any luck you should now have been returned to this window and all you need to do is choose 'what to type'. Don't worry about capitalization as WWS is not case-sensitive.

We've got two Ryans...

This has come up a few times. If you've got two people of the same name then don't worry about it. Put the same name for both and you'll be able to use the F12 key in WWS2K to cycle through the different photos.

Test the graphic

I would always recommend testing your graphic right away. There's no point saving your changes to a wordlist if you've put a typo in. Don't forget you can click on these images on the left to see full-size versions.

Saving wordlist changes

You may have noticed that the little window that pops up when you choose to 'link to an external graphic' is titled 'Bring in a temporary graphic' - it's important to realise that these changes are temporary. If you were to close WWS2K at this point then your link will be lost. To make it permanent, return to the Images menu but this time choose "Save Wordlist Changes"

Adding graphics to wordlist

This window should appear. The quickest and least complicated way of handling this dialog is to press Add All before pressing Close. Take a look at the 'Wordlist to export to' at the top, however. This is where your image will be linked to and will only work when this wordlist is being used. In a lot of schools I've created separate custom wordlists so as not to 'pollute' the original Rebus or PCS libraries and so that it is more portable from one machine to another. This is a bit more advanced and isn't really necessary in most cases. If you ask politely I'll put up a tutorial outlining how this is possible :)

Comments on this tutorial? Liked it? Didn't understand it? Have I made a ludicrous error? Please contact me and let me know what you think.