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: Getting Identical Margins.

Getting Identical Margins

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 23, 2016)

Laurence notes that no matter what he does he cannot get the inner and outer margins on the same page to be identical. He works in millimeters and when he checks 'mirror margins' at 20mm, the inside and outside margins are not only different, but nowhere near the specified measurements. He then sets the margins manually, inside at 12mm and outside at 15mm, and that's the closest he can get them to 20mm, but they're still slightly different. Laurence wonders if there is a special way to set identical margins on the same page.

The first thing to check is that your page layout matches the paper on which you are printing. If it doesn't, it is impossible to get the desired outcome. For instance, if your page layout is for letter-sized paper, but you are actually printing on A4 paper, the margins will never be right. Make sure the layout matches the paper.

You also need to check whether you have some other setting that is affecting you margins. The most likely culprit is the Gutter setting on the Page Setup dialog box. This is a value added to the inside margin measurement to move the output "outward" on the page, toward the outside margin. Make sure the Gutter margin is set to 0 and then check to see how that affects your printed page.

Of course, the problem could more than likely not be with Word but with your printer. Most printers are not terribly precise in their paper handling, and you can easily end up with horizontal drift of the paper as it goes through the machine. Make sure the Gutter margin is 0, and then print out five pages. Grab a ruler and compare where the margins on each page occur. You may very well find that they vary by a millimeter or more. This is not unusual; it is due to the printer itself and not to Word. Getting a better printer may help, or it may not—it all depends on the capabilities of the printer.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7300) 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: Getting Identical Margins.

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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