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    Printing: Print Preview

In the Print Preview, you can see what your pages will look like when printed. Well, that's the theory, anyway. Sometimes there are still unhappy surprises.

In particular, if part of your document is in the area in which the printer cannot actually print, the Print Layout view may show your text anyway, but Print Preview probably will not.

In the olden days before Word 6, there was no preview at all. You had to guess about the formatting, what fonts to use, where to place images. Wait! You could not print images on a dot-matrix printer anyway! You had to know what fonts were installed on the printer. Screen fonts and printer fonts were not exactly the same, even if they had the same name. You never really knew if you had guessed right until the document was printed! Some days it took bags of patience and a lot of wasted trees to get a good looking print-out at last.

Icon: TipLook before you print!
If you always look at the Print Preview before you actually print, you can reduce the time and ink it takes to get a good print-out.

View: Print Preview (Word 2007) View: Preview & Print (Word 2010)View: Preview & Print (Word 2013) View: Preview & Print (Word 2016)

What is the No-Print Area?

Diagram of No-Print areaThe no-print area is the part of the page where a particular printer cannot print. The margin includes both the no-print area and any extra white space up to where you can type on the page. The header and footer text fit in that white space.

Most printers can print as close as 0.5 inch from the top and bottom edges of the page and up to 0.25 inch from the left and right edges of the paper. Many can get even closer to the edges. Few printers allow printing all the way to the edge of the paper.

Some  printers have larger no-print areas. For example, the old HP500C printer needed minimum margins (to cover the no-print area) for the top of 0.2 inch (Great!), left and right of 0.25 inch (Acceptable!) but for the bottom a whopping 0.716 inch (Terrible!).  I got a very unhappy surprise when I first printed with that printer!

Footer heightYou will need to set the top/bottom margin large enough to include the text of the header/footer plus the no print area. The larger the font, the bigger the margin must be for text to fit in a header or footer. Word attempts to print the whole header/footer anyway. If you are not careful, your header or footer can wind up overlapping the document's text!

You might get a warning if you try to print a document that has something hanging over into the no-print area. But you might not. To add to the confusion, the warning can appear when you cannot see anything wrong because it's the white space that is the problem!

How white space can cause a no-print warning but you can't see the problem:

  • Header/footer height: The space needed for your particular font does not fit, but the actual letters in your text do fit.
  • Header/footer height: Blank lines or Space After or Space Before will be cut off but your actual text shows OK.
  • Document body width: A table does not fit in the width, but the text in the table does fit. When the table has invisible borders, you cannot see that part of the table was cut off.
  • Document section width: A document section or the header or footer has its width set to wider than the printable area, but the actual text fits inside the printable area.

Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Print Preview

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn: to find the no-print area for your printer
to use Print Preview
to resize the header/footer height 
to use Shrink One Page button

Start with:Icon: Class storage device, flyer-World Travel Inc-Lastname-Firstname.docx as finished in the Spell Check lesson.

Find the no-print area for your printer

To figure out where your printer can and cannot print, you could create a test document with a lot of text and a header and a footer and experiment until you figure out the correct margins. There is a faster way and you won't have to print anything at all!

  1. Click the Page Layout ribbon tab.

  2. In the Page Setup tab group, click the dialog launcher button Buttton: Dialog Launcher (Word 2007) Button: Dialog Launcher (Word 2010) Button: Dialog Launcher (Word 2013) to open the Page Setup dialog.

  3. Dialog: Page Setup with margins of zero (rrod 2013)

    On the Margins tab, change all four margins to 0 and then click the OK button.
    Surprise! A message box appears, warning you that one or more of your margins are outside the printable area.

    Message: One or more margins are outside the printable area of the page (Word 2013)

    In case you wondered, Yes, you need to check all four margins. They may not all be the same.

  4. Dialog: Page Setup - minimum margins (Word 2013)

    Click the Fix button.
    Word changes your margins without closing the dialog.

    These minimum margins are for the printer currently assigned to this document (usually the default printer) and may be quite different for a different printer!

    Remember: The minimum margin may not give you enough room for a header or a footer at the font size that you want.

  5. Click on Cancel.
    You won't want such a small margin very often!

Preview: Inspect and Correct

Icon: WarningColor documents may not print in color! Print Preview will show in color even if the selected printer cannot print color or if its properties are set to print in gray scale. Word does not have a way to show you what the document will look like in gray scale.

  • Can you printer actually print in color?
  • Did you set the printer's properties to print in gray scale? This choice is remembered! (more on the printer properties in the next lesson)
  1. If necessary, open the current version of your World Travel flyer in Word again.
    [flyer-World Travel Inc-Lastname-Firstname.docx]
  2. Click in the Quick Access Toolbar on the Print Preview button Button: Preview & Print (Word 2010) Button: Print Preview and Print (Word 2013) Button: Print Preview and Print - Quick Access Toolbar (Word 2016).
    You put that button on the bar in an earlier lesson.

    [If the button is not there, use the Office Button > Print > Print Preview or File tab > Print.]

    Does your document look the way you wanted?  You will not see the marks for paragraphs and spaces etc., or the wavy underlines for errors in the preview.

  3. Compare your flyer to the picture of the finished version below.
    Some images below have alternate images.

    Flyer in print preview (Word 20007) Flyer in Preview & Print pane (Word 2010) Flyer in Preview & Print pane (Word 2013) Flyer in Preview & Print pane (Word 2016)

    Icon: TroubleProblem: You find errors while looking at the preview.
    Icon: Word 2007 Word 2007: You can edit without leaving Print Preview in Word 2007.

    Solution for Word 2007: Click on the check box for Magnifier in the Print Preview toolbar to uncheck it. This will toggle the pointer from Pointer -zoom shape Zoom to its regular I-beam shape Pointer: I-beam for editing. Now you can edit without leaving the preview window. This is handy for fixing a spelling error or adding or deleting a word or two. If there is much to change, it's easier to just go back to the regular Print Layout view where you can use the ribbon buttons.

    Icon: Word 2010 Icon: Word 2013 Icon: Word 2016 Word 2010, 2013, 2016:  You cannot edit while in the Preview and Print pane.

    Solution: Return to the normal document view to make the corrections.

  4. If necessary, while still in Print Preview, use the Zoom slider at the bottom right of the preview and the scrollbars to enlarge the preview so you can actually read the small text in the header and footer.
  5. Inspect both the header and the footer.
    Are they showing completely in the Print Preview? Be sure you can actually read the text. If part is cut off, you will find out how to fix it shortly.
  6. Leave the preview and go back to the Print Layout view:

    Icon: Word 2007 Word 2007: Click the red Close Print Preview button.
    Icon: Word 2010 Word 2010: Click the File tab.
    Icon: Word 2013 Icon: Word 2016 Word 2013, 2016: Click the Back button Button: Back (Word 2013) at the top left of the navigation pane.
  7. Icon: Class storage deviceIf you had to make corrections, save.

Problem: Vanishing Header/Footer

We usually expect a header/footer to be a single line of fairly plain text. But it doesn't have to be! Word treats the header and footer of a document like they were separate documents.  In fact, a header or footer can be quite tall with many lines of text and even images. You can set a lot of features differently for the header and footer than for the rest of the document. It can get rather confusing.

Footers seem to be more likely to fail to print correctly than headers. Maybe we are not as careful to check the bottom of the page!

The same methods work to fix both. Let's create a footer problem to fix!

Show Vertical Ruler:

  1. Ribbon: View > Show tag group > Ruler (Word 2013)

    If the rulers are not showing, click the Views tab and, in the Show tab group, check the box Ruler.

    Dialog: Word Options > Advanced > Display - Vertical ruler in Print Layout view (Word 2010)Icon: TroubleProblem: Vertical Ruler does not show after checking the Ruler box.
    Open the Word Options dialog > Advanced page > Display section > Put a check mark beside "Show vertical ruler in Print Layout view". Click on OK to close. The vertical ruler should now be showing at the left of your document.

Edit Footer:

  1. Vertical ruler for the footer (Word 2010)Double-click in the footer area to open it for editing.

    Word treats at this footer area as its own little document. There is a top 'margin' between the first line that you can type on and the dashed line, which is the shows where the footer starts on the page.

    In the vertical ruler at the left, the white area on the ruler measures the height of the 'document area', that is, where you can type in the footer.  However, the ruler does NOT show where the no-print area is at the bottom of the margin.

  2. ScreenTip= Top Margin, top edge of typing space in footer (Word 2010)At the bottom of the vertical ruler, hover over the line where the white and gray areas meet.
    The pointer changes to a double-headed arrow and a ScreenTip appears.
    If you drag up or down, you resize the white area on the ruler. This changes the area where you can type in the footer.

    Icon: ConfusionPoint of Confusion: The ScreenTip here says 'Top Margin'. Did you expect that? Why isn't it 'Bottom Margin', since the footer is inside the bottom margin of the page? There are multiple margins here! The edge that you hovered over is the bottom edge of the top margin of the footer itself. Remember that Word is treating the footer like it is a separate document, so it has its own margins on all sides. Those can be different from the margins for the page as a whole. Like I said, it's confusing!

  3. Footer: Dragging down to bottom of vertical ruler (Word 2010)Drag down to the bottom of the ruler but do not release the mouse button yet.
    A dotted line across the page shows where the new "top" margin for the footer will be.
  4. Footer after dragging the margin to bottom of page (Word 2010)Release the mouse button.
    The footer text moves to the bottom edge of the page.
    The vertical ruler shows a very small white area that is just tall enough for your footer text.

    Icon: Word 2013 Icon: Word 2016Word 2013, 2016: Word switches back to the main text area. Double-click in the footer again to see the footer's ruler. 
  5. Flyer print preview shows only the top edge of the letters in the footer. (Word 2010)Switch to Print Preview.
    Does the footer show? Not for my printer! Just the very top edge of the letters showed. The rest is in the no-print area for this printer.

    For another printer I tried the footer was completely gone. No hint that there was supposed to be something there!

  6. Icon: Experiment Experiment: Minimum space in footer to print footer text?
    Switch back to Print Layout view and open the footer again for editing.
    Drag the margin on the vertical ruler to a different height to change the top margin for your footer. Then check Print Preview to see if the footer is showing now.

    How large can the top margin in the footer be and still see the footer text in Print Preview? You answer will depend on which printer the document is set to use and the current font size for the text.

  7. Fix the problem of the vanishing footer: While editing the footer, drag the top edge of the white area in the ruler to a spot that lets the footer show in Print Preview.

Problem: Header/Footer on Top of Document Text

Changing the margin of your document may not change what you see in the header or footer. Word tries to help you out by displaying the header and footer even when the document's margin is actually too small. You can wind up with header or footer text on top of document text! Let's make that happen.

  1. Flyer with header at 48 pt. (Word 2010)Edit the header to increase the font size to 48 pt.
    (The color of the title and the rest of the color is faded since you are editing the header.)
  2. While still in the header, drag the bottom margin of the header on the vertical ruler up to the top of the ruler. A dotted line shows where the new bottom margin will be.

    Ruler: Bottom Margin arrows for header (Word 2010)     Ruler: Bottom Margin of header dragged to top of page (word 2010)

  3. Release the mouse button.
    The document body moves up and overlaps the header! That might shock you right out of your chair!
    The margins for the header were not changed just because you changed the margin for the document.

    Title of flyer overlaps the header (Word 2010)

  4. Undo each of your changes, using the Undo button or the key combo
    Icon: Keyboard method CTRL + Z

Problem: One Too Many Pages

It is fairly common for a document to run over onto an extra page by just a couple of lines, or even for the last page to be blank except for the header/footer. There are several things you might do to reduce your document by one page.

Ways to fix a final page that is blank or has very little text:

  • Delete any final blank lines.
  • Reduce Space After for the last line.
  • Reduce white space earlier in the document - removing blank lines or reducing Space Before and/or Space After.
  • Reduce the font size for headings or body text or both.
  • Revise the text to reduce the number of lines.
  • Use the Shrink One Page button. (Easy to find in Word 2007 but hard to find in the other versions.)
  1. Check the number of pages in the document by looking at the numbers on the Status bar.
    You should have 1 page in this document.
  2. Flyer with additional lines to make it two pages long. (Word 2010)To create a problem for you to
    , click to the right of "Sign up now!" to put the cursor at the end of the body text.
  3. Press the ENTER key and type This document is too long.
  4. Press ENTER to start a new line and type the same thing again.

    The last two original lines and the two new ones are over onto a new page. Just the kind of problem we need to look at!

    Of the suggestions above, reducing font size might work (or revising the text!). Let's see what that Shrink One Page button can do.

  5. Shrink to fit one page:

    Icon: Word 2007 Word 2007: 

    • Switch to Print Preview.
    • Click on Button:  Shrink One Page the Shrink One Page button.
    Icon: Word 2010 Icon: Word 2013 Icon: Word 2016 Word 2010, 2013, 2016: The Backstage Print view does not have a Shrink One Page button. This feature is not on the ribbon anywhere but it is available in the list of commands that you can add.
    • At the right end of the Quick Access Toolbar, click on the More button and select More commands...
    • Change the Choose commands from: box to show All commands.
    • Scroll the list and click on Shrink One Page to select it.
    • Click the Add>> button to move the command over to the Quick Access Toolbar list.
    • Click on OK.
    • Back in Page Layout view, on the Quick Access Toolbar, click on the new button,
      Button: Shrink One Page (Word 2010) Button: Shrink One Page (Word 2013) Button: Shrink One Page (Word 2016) Shrink One Page.

    Flyer is back to one page (Word 2010)The document is back to one page. (You may not see the blue wavy underlines that are in the illustration.) If you closed the document after you finished the Spell Check lesson, you will see green squiggles again for any grammar errors that you ignored.

  6. Click in the Title, World Travel Inc.
    What font size shows on the Home tab?
  7. Repeat for each paragraph on the page.
    All of the font sizes are smaller.
  8. Close the document without saving changes unless you have had to make other corrections.
    In that case, use Undo to remove the formatting changes from Shrink One Page, then delete the two extra lines that you typed. Your document should then be back in good shape. Save your corrected document.

When there are not too many extra lines or when the problem is width rather than length, the Shrink One Page method can work well. The size of all the text on the pages will be reduced, but not the header and footer text, which are treated as separate documents. Text can get too small to read in some cases, so you need to review the whole document carefully.