Stable Layout on Different Printers

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 13, 2018)

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

Limiting Entries to Numeric Values

When creating a worksheet, you may need to limit what can be entered into a particular cell. Using data validation, you ...

Discover More

Using InputBox to Get Data

Need your macro to get some input from a user? The standard way to do this is with the InputBox function, described in ...

Discover More

Sorting Worksheets According to Region

Sorting worksheet tabs can be done by using a macro. This tip provides a macro that accomplishes this task, but it also ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Printing to a File

Word allows you to send your output to a file instead of to a printer. This tip shows you how.

Discover More

Printing without Footnotes

Want to print your document without all those footnotes included? It's not quite as easy as you might think, as this tip ...

Discover More

Reducing the Curl in Printed Documents

Have you ever printed out a document, only to have the pages curl very badly as they come out of the printer? There's a ...

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 five less than 9?

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.