Printing to a File

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 27, 2014)

Word gives you complete control over how it prints your document. You can either print to a printer or to a file. To print to a file, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Print from the File menu. You will see the Print dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Print dialog box.

  3. Make sure you select to print using the same printer on which your file will eventually be printed.
  4. In the Range box, specify what you want to print.
  5. Click on the Print to File check box. A check in the box means the output will be sent to a file.
  6. Click on OK. You will be asked to provide a filename for the output.
  7. Enter a filename, including a path if desired.
  8. Click on OK.

Once the output has been sent to a file, you (or someone else) can later copy the file to the destination printer from the Windows command line by using the copy command. For instance, let's assume that you created an output file called Report.prn. You could later send this file to the printer connected to your parallel port by using the following command at the command prompt:

copy report.prn lpt1:

This command-line syntax will work fine if your printer driver creates ASCII output. (For instance, if you use a PostScript printer driver.) If you use a different printer driver, the output file may actually contain non-ASCII characters. In this instance, you must issue the command line prompt as follows:

copy report.prn lpt1: /b

The addition of the /b switch causes the file to be sent to the printer in binary format, which is required for some types of output files.

As a side note, if you want to produce a print file that you can later load into a text editor (such as Notepad), then you should make sure you are printing using the generic, text-only printer driver.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (462) 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. ...

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