Use narrow margins in Word to save paper

Reduce the number of pages in a Microsoft Word document and save paper, one option is to make the page margins narrower. Do that with a single click and change back to normal margins with another click.

Narrower margins can make a surprisingly large difference to the number of pages.  For example, we ‘shrunk’ a 20 page document down to 14 pages just by changing to the Narrow margins preset in Word.  No change in font sizes, paragraph settings etc – just margins.

If you like checking paper drafts (using an antique called a ‘pen’ or ‘pencil’ <g>) this will reduce the pages carried around.  The standard margins are quickly restored for the final document.

Who ^@#$ uses paper?

To answer the question – Who ^@#$ uses paper? The same trick works for saving to PDF documents.  No paper is saved but more info is on each page ‘at a glance’ so less scrolling is needed.

Quick Margin change

The margin settings are at Layout | Margins. There are presets which let you quickly switch between margin settings … for example Narrow for drafts then Normal for the published document.

Word comes with five preset margin settings:

  • Normal – same margin top, bottom, left and right – 1 inch or
  • Narrow – half sized margins all round – 0.5 inch or
  • Moderate – top/bottom margins same as Normal. Left/Right margins reduced to 0.75 inch.
  • Wide – top/bottom margins same as Normal. Left/Right doubled to 2 inches each.
    • A useful option if you want plenty of space for pen on paper comments
  • Mirrored – use when binding double-sided pages.

Last Custom Setting – saves whatever was last setup in Custom Margins …

Custom Margins

At the bottom of the Margins gallery is Custom Margins … which takes you to Page Setup | Margins.

Here you can customize the margins to whatever works for you.

Perhaps you want to save paper but also leave space on the left for written comments?  Do that by reducing the top, bottom and right margins while increasing the left margin.

These settings reduced our 20 page test document down by 4 pages.

Note: changing margins to Zero should work OK if the printer setup is correct.  It’s possible that leaving no margin might cause some text to be cut off the printable page.  If using zero margins, do a test page or two to make sure everything appears on the printed page.

Other page reducing options

Margin change is just one way to reduce the Microsoft Word page count, especially for drafts.

  • Reduce Line Spacing
  • Shrink font size

Do these via Styles so the changes are quickly and consistently updated throughout the document.

Shrink One Page or Shrink to Fit in Microsoft Word
Better ways to Shrink One Page in Microsoft Word
Preventing Table overrun to blank page in Microsoft Word
Show Crop Marks each page in Word

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