Stable Layout on Different Printers

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 20, 2013)

Patricia asked if there is a way to keep the layout of pages in a large document the same regardless of which printer she uses to print the document.

Believe it or not, this is not that simple of a question. To make it simpler, let's consider a scenario where a single document is printed on two different printers, A and B. If printers A and B are identical and use the exact same printer driver, then the printout on each of them should be the same if you are printing from a single machine. If you are printing from different machines (and the printers and printer drivers are identical) the printouts could still be different if the systems use different versions of Word, different fonts, or even different implementations of the same fonts from different vendors.

It is also possible that you could get different printouts—even if printers A and B are identical—if printer A is operating at a different print resolution from printer B. If printers A and B are identical but the printer drivers are different (such as different versions of the same driver), then the printouts can be different. Finally, if printers A and B are different makes and models, then it is virtually guaranteed that the printouts will be different. This occurs even if the printers use the same printer driver, such as a generic PostScript driver.

As you can tell, there are a lot of factors that come into play when printing your document. Printer make and model, printer resolution, printer driver version, and fonts all play a role in determining what ends up on the printed page. For this reason, many people who need to make sure that they get the same thing on different printers will often convert their documents to PDF format for distribution. The PDF format was designed to eliminate (or at least minimize) differences in printed output on different platforms. The traditional way to create a PDF file is to use Adobe Acrobat, although there are a number of less expensive alternatives to Acrobat.

If converting to PDF format is not possible, you should at least force Word to use its internal printer metrics instead of relying on the printer's metrics. Choose Tools | Options and display the Compatibility Options tab. Make sure that the Use Printer Metrics to Lay Out Document option is not checked. This option is turned off in a standard Word installation, but someone may have turned it on.

While turning off the setting (which means that Word does layout according to internal metrics rather than printer driver metrics) can minimize changes from one printer to another, it won't get rid of them entirely, particularly in large, complex documents that use a lot of text boxes or frames.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (213) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Zooming with the Keyboard

Excel doesn't provide a keyboard shortcut that allows you to zoom in or out on your workbook. It is easy, however, to ...

Discover More

Extracting URLs from Hyperlinked Images

When copying information from the Internet to an Excel workbook, you may want to get rid of graphics but keep any ...

Discover More

Sorting Conditional Formats Properly

Conditional formatting can be a great tool to get your data looking just the way you need. However, when you sort data ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Remembering Copies to Print

If you routinely need to print more than one copy of a document, you'll love the ideas presented in this tip. There's ...

Discover More

Fitting to a Single Page

It can be frustrating when a single-page document actually prints of two pages, depending on the system that is doing the ...

Discover More

Printing Personalized Copies of a Document

Need to have a series of documents customized for individual users? Mail merge may be overkill, but the macro presented ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four more than 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.