The Print Dialog in Office 2003 - Part 1

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We talk about the Print Dialog options available in most versions of Office and also some printer specific options that you might find.

Despite all the options now available for disseminating information, we still rely on ink upon dried wood pulp. Today let’s have a look at the Print dialog box in Office.

We’ll talk about the options available in most versions of Office and also some printer specific options you might find. Keep in mind that some choices you have depend on what your printer is capable of and the printer drivers installed.

All your print options are found at File | Print … there is also a print toolbar button (or Ctrl+P shortcut) which immediately prints the current document, once, to the default printer with no dialog box.


Windows always has a default printer to which documents are printed if you choose no other. Naturally if you only have one printer it is the default.

Select a printer from the Name pull-down list provided, for whichever printer you choose some information will appear below the printer list.


This is important because it tells you if the printer is online and ready to accept a print job. You can save yourself some annoyance by checking the printer status before trying to print something. Normally you’ll want to see ‘Idle’ or ‘Ready’.

Mind you, sometimes the status reading isn’t accurate and if you think the printer is OK you can still try printing despite what the status line says.


This tells you the type of printer in more detail.


For each printer the administrator can add details on the location etc of that printer.


This takes you to the printer specific dialog box settings.

Find Printer

Mostly useful in networks connected using a Windows Server and Active Directory to help find a particular printer among many.

Print to File

Instead of sending output to a printer, the print data is saved to a file for later use. For computer nerds only.

Manual Duplex

Duplex is double-sided printing and is normally done with specially enabled printers that print one side, reverse the paper then print the other. However it is possible to do this without the special hardware. Choose this option then Office will print all one set of sides, prompt you to re-insert the paper, then print other sides.


There’s various options to control which pages are printed out.

Of course, the default is All pages but there’s some other interesting choices.

Current Page

Only the page where the cursor / insertion point is located will be printed. If you don’t get the page you expect, chances are the cursor isn’t precisely where you thought it was.


A little-used but very handy option. Select a block of text before going to the print dialog and this option is available. Only the selected text is printed.

This choice is available in many Windows programs and is especially useful in Internet Explorer. Select the text you want to print (eg an article without all the surrounding stuff) then print just that selection.


Almost any range of pages can be printed with commas separating the pages requested and hyphens indicating a range of pages to print.

For example:
3-7 will print pages from 3 to 7 inclusive

1,3,5,7 will print only pages 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the document.

And you can combine the two like this:
3, 7-11, 13 prints page 3, then 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 plus page 13.

You don’t have to know the exact ending page number, any number higher than the total pages in the document will make all the pages until the end print out. For example, in a 73 page document a page range of 50-99 will print all the pages from 50 to 73 and there’s no error or complaint from Office.



How many copies of the print job do you want?


For multi-page print jobs you can have Office collate the pages or not.

Non-collated prints out all the copies of page one, then all the copies of page two and so on. This is usually faster but leaves you with the job of putting the pages into order

Collated means that each document is printed out in page order; page one, two, three and so on until the document is printed, Office then returns to page one for another copy of the complete document. This is a little slower to print but much faster overall.


99% of the time you’ll use the default choice of printing the document but there are some other options to keep in mind.

  • Document
  • Document properties
  • Document showing markup
  • List of Markup
  • Styles
  • AutoText entries
  • Key assignments

Under the Options button there are other choices that control what is printed. For example you can choose to print text that has the Hidden formatting option. You can use this to print an answer sheet to accompany a quiz.


Pages per sheet

This is a relative newcomer to Office. With this option you can print multiple pages on a single sheet of paper. In practice I find that anything more than 2 pages per sheet is unreadable but 2 pages per sheet is good for some reference material or drafts.

Tip: If you combine 2 pages per sheet with an external duplex option then you can get 4 pages across both sides of a single sheet. The manual duplex option in Office doesn’t work with multiple pages per sheet but you might be able to combine it with a duplex option controlled directly by the printer.

If you have an earlier version of Office it is worth clicking on the Properties option at the top and looking at the printer specific options. It’s possible that a ‘pages per sheet’ option is available at the print driver level.

Scale to paper size

In the past if you had, say, a Letter page sized document and you wanted to print on A4 paper you’d have to go to File | Page Setup and switch sizes. If the document formatting was tight you’d then have to re-arrange your document a bit to fit the changed margins.

In Office 2003 there is a very useful option to automatically scale A4 pages to Letter printed page or vice-versa. You control this under the Options button and is a godsend to anyone who works with documents on a global basis. It saves a lot of fiddling between the majority of countries that use metric paper sizes and those with Imperial sizings.

The ‘Scale to paper size’ option is a one-off and expanded version of this feature. The size and formatting of your document isn’t changed but the page ‘image’ is rescaled before sending to the printer.

Choose the paper size loaded into the printer from the ‘Scale to paper size’ list the default is ‘No scaling’.


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