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Printing Unwanted Blank Envelopes

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Printing Unwanted Blank Envelopes.

Gay wrote with a problem concerning the printing of blank envelopes by Word. This, despite the fact that a return address was highlighted and the built-in envelope features of Word were used.

Trying to track down problems (and their attendant solutions) with the envelope features can be confusing and time-consuming. Perhaps the best place to start is to change how you are printing the envelopes. Instead of choosing to print directly to the printer, choose to add the envelope to the document. (Remember, this is just for troubleshooting. After the problem is solved, you can go back to directly printing.)

With the envelope added to your document (it is in its own section at the beginning of your document) you can check a couple of things. Basically, you are checking what you see on the screen to see if it makes sense and is what you expect. After all, what you see there is the basis for what is printed. You will want to check the following:

  • Is the envelope text using some color that makes the text invisible on your printer?
  • Are the margins causing the envelope address frame to be positioned outside of the printable area?
  • Is the envelope text frame too small?
  • Is the envelope orientation the right way round for printing through the given printer?
  • Is the envelope feed tray correct?

The parameters by which an envelope is created are controlled by the styles defined within a template or a document. What this means is that if you find you need to change any of the above items, you need to change the styles on which that envelope is based. To do this, follow these steps if you are using Word 97 or Word 2000:

  1. Choose the Style option from the Format menu. This displays the Style dialog box.
  2. In the List drop-down list at the bottom of the dialog box, make sure you select All Styles.
  3. In the list of styles, select Envelope Address.
  4. Click on Modify. This displays the Modify Style dialog box.
  5. Choose the element of the style you wish to change.
  6. Using the dialog box presented by Word, make the change.
  7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 until all your changes are complete.
  8. Make sure the Add to Template check box is selected, at the bottom of the Modify Style dialog box.
  9. Click on OK.
  10. Click on Cancel to close the Style dialog box.

If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, the steps are slightly different:

  1. Choose Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane.
  2. Using the Show drop-down list at the bottom of the task pane, choose All Styles.
  3. In the list of styles, hover the mouse pointer of the Envelope Address style. A drop-down arrow should appear at the right side of the style name.
  4. Click the drop-down arrow, then choose Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  6. Choose the element of the style you wish to change.
  7. Using the dialog box presented by Word, make the change.
  8. Repeat steps 4 through 6 until all your changes are complete.
  9. Make sure the Add to Template check box is selected, at the bottom of the Modify Style dialog box.
  10. Click on OK.
  11. Close the Styles task pane.

Now, when you save your document or close Word, you are asked if you want to save your changes to the template. Make sure you do this.

With these changes to the styles and template necessary, you may be wondering what good the settings are in the Envelope Options dialog box. (The Envelope Options dialog box is displayed when you click on the Options button in the Envelopes and Labels dialog box.) Good question—those settings are for single-use changes. This means that the settings you make in the dialog box are for the current Word document or session only, not for permanent changes. To make permanent changes, you must follow the steps outlined above.

Another thing to check out is to make sure that you have the latest and greatest printer driver installed for your printer. This is a very important item to check, particularly if you recently changed printers or had some sort of a system upgrade that might have affected the relationship of your computer to your printer. (For instance, a repair to the main board in the printer, a change in printer interfaces, or an upgrade of your operating system version.)

If, after trying everything outlined in this tip, you still cannot get the envelopes to print properly, it may be due to some other weird quirk with the envelope features. To find out some of the more obscure problems, check out the Microsoft Knowledge Base, and search for Envelope or Envelope and the name of your printer. The fact that such a search typically returns in excess of 100 hits may give an indication of the problems inherent in the way that Microsoft implements the envelope features.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (841) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Printing Unwanted Blank Envelopes.

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