The Print Dialog in Office 2003 - Part 2

Office for Mere Mortals
Your beginners guide to the secrets of Microsoft Office
Invalid email address
Tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook from Microsoft Office experts.  Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office for Mere Mortals has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy

We look at some more printing options in Office and beyond. In particular the Print options under the Tools menu.

This issue we’ll continue from last time with look at some more printing options in Office and beyond. In particular the Print options under the Tools menu.

Most of these options are rarely used but are worth keeping in mind. There’s one that most people would think should be on the main print dialog but instead hides away in the Tools menu.


Print Preview was once an essential part of Word because it was the only way to get an idea of how your document will look on the printed page. It isn’t as necessary these days because Word now has an editing view called Print Layout which gives the same result as well as letting you edit the document.

However Print Preview still has a place. You can get broad and multi-page views that are not available in editing mode. Sometimes the difference between Print Layout and Print Preview isn’t obvious until you try to change text in Print Preview.

Depending on your version of Office there is also an option to ‘Shrink to Fit’ which will reduce the font size of a document to stop a few lines of text creeping onto another page.


Aside from the Print dialog there are more printing options in the Print section of the Options dialog.

In Word 2003 here are some of the options available (most of common with earlier versions of Office as well.

Draft Output

Some printers have a ‘draft’ or ‘economy’ mode that prints more quickly and with less toner. This option in Office _may_ trigger that option on the printer however the results may not result in much saving in either time or money.

Why is this choice on the Options menu rather than the main Print dialog? After all this is a ‘one off’ decision you’d normally make at printing time instead of the overall settings normally on the Options menu. Good question – one of the mysteries of Microsoft design choices.

Update Fields

Any fields you have in your document will be updated immediately before printing. This can be useful but can also be bad.

For example if you use the {DATE } field to set the date at the top of a letter. If you and reprint that letter at a later date you’ll want the date of the original letter – not the current date. Setting this option OFF would prevent that happening.

But, if you have a document that is always current at printing time – for example a receipt for an immediate purchase then you’d want this option ON.

There are other field options to cover these types of situations that go well beyond the scope of a single issue of Office for Mere Mortals.

Update Links

If you import dynamic information from other documents using the {IncludeText } field for example, the document being printed will be refreshed from the linked sources at print time.

Allow A4/Letter paper resizing

We covered this in the last issue of Office for Mere Mortals. This option lets you print out A4 or Letter sized documents to the other paper size without reformatting the document itself.

Background Printing

Normally Office does the printing job in the background, letting you get on with other work while it does all the pre-processing and communicating with the printer. Usually all this happens without any interference with your use of the computer but if you do have problems you can de-select this option.

Print Postscript over text

It is possible to send printer codes and commands directly to the printer using the {PRINT} field. Most commonly this happens with Word for Macintosh documents and even then pretty rarely.

Reverse Print Order

Instead of printing page one first, the last page comes out first.


All these choices let you show things that you normally would not want printed but can be useful especially if you’re trying to troubleshoot a document.

Document Summaries

The same summary info that’s on the File | Properties | Summary tab.

Field Codes

A troubleshooting option for the most part (though you could use it in writing training documents about field codes themselves).

XML tags

Lets you see the tags applied from a schema – only available in those versions of Word 2003 that support XML features.

Hidden Text

Text in a document can be formatted as ‘hidden’ and would not normally appear in a printed document. With this option on hidden text will appear along with everything else.

Drawing Objects

Normally this option is ON, but if you’re printing a draft you could speed up the process by de-selecting this option and having blank boxes appear instead.

Background color and images

If you have a document intended for screen display it may have background colors unnecessary in the print version.


Print data only for forms

You might only want to print the entered data from an Word document as a form.

Default tray

This lets you choose an alternative paper tray for a particular document. Useful if the document needs special paper.


  • Front of sheet
  • Back of sheet

These options set the printing order of the front and back of the sheets respectively. Normally the defaults (both OFF) is correct.

Changing duplex options can get confusing – the default Office/Windows/Printer settings will work in most common cases. If you want to change the settings it is strongly recommended that you test the new setup. Do your tests with a small document – say 3 or 4 pages long. Don’t make changes then immediately print that 100 page report – that way madness lies.


Latest news & secrets of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office experts give you tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office Watch has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy
Invalid email address