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Printing in White

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 in White.

Word allows you to easily specify the color to use for different fonts in your document. You can even format text using a color of white. This effectively makes the text "disappear" because seeing white text on white paper is about as easy as seeing a white snowflake in a field of snow.

If you try to print text that is formatted as white, it won't print—Word effectively ignores it. Why? Because most printers (even color printers) use one, two, or four colors. None of these colors available in the printer, of course, is white—so it can't be printed. (In other words, you can't print using ink that you don't have.)

The answer, of course, is to get a special printer or ink cartridge that allows you to print using white ink. In that case, you still wouldn't format your text in Word using white. Instead, black text would actually print out as white, since you effectively replaced the black ink in the printer with the white ink cartridge.

Sound confusing? It can be. But it all boils down to the fact that formatting text as white has no effect on a printout, and you can't print in white unless your printer physically supports the use of white ink.

There is one other option to printing white text, but it would use a lot of ink. That is to use white paper, color the background of the document, and print that out. This means you'd actually be using the ink cartridge to produce the color on the paper (with a white border, of course, since the printer can't print all the way to the edge of the paper).

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (848) 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 in White.

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Comments for this tip:

Brent    26 Jun 2015, 11:50
others have same issue, what helped solved my problem with Mac to Canon printer (over wifi) was:

when printing a PDF, in Printer Setup (After selecting Print)

* Select Advanced (Top of Window) -> Print as Image (Bottom of Window) -> OK
Raman    28 Dec 2014, 23:00
I have taken a printout in paper, I did 1 mistake at while printing a date, I want to modify it on the same paper, how can I change it. Please help me
Ron MVP    14 Sep 2014, 21:30
Try using Paste Special > Text Only to strip all formatting.

Which "background" color did you change? There are a couple of places a "background" color can be set.

Try selecting the text, including the paragraph mark, then Format menu > "Borders and Shading ..." command > Shading tab > select "No Fill".
Jerry Loomis    13 Sep 2014, 22:00
I have copied text which has white letters in green background block. Changing the background color does not affect the text. It is still sorrounded by green. How do I change text from negative print to positive?

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