Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Non-printing Page Borders.

Non-printing Page Borders

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 16, 2019)

Periodically I have people inquire as to why one or more of their full-page borders don't print out. The short answer is: You are using too big of a page border. If the border extends too close to the edge of the paper, your printer may not be able to print it. This is because all printers have what is called "dead space" around the edges of the paper. This space is typically used for mechanical handling of the paper, and therefore cannot be printed upon. Different printers have different amounts of dead space; you should check with your printer manufacturer for complete information.

To correct your page borders and make sure they are not in the dead space area, follow these steps if you are using Word 2013 or a later version:

  1. Make sure the Home tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  2. Locate the Borders tool within the Paragraph group. Click the down-arrow at the right of the Borders tool. Word displays a palate of options.
  3. Select the Borders and Shading option at the bottom of the palette. Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Page Border tab is displayed and click on the Options button. Word displays the Border and Shading Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Border and Shading Options dialog box.

  6. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify how you want your border to appear. These controls are very similar to those used by Word to set up paragraph borders.
  7. Adjust the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right margin settings so they are larger than the amount of dead space imposed by your printer.
  8. Click on OK two times.

If you are using earlier versions of Word, use the following steps:

  1. Make sure the Page Layout tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  2. Click the Page Borders tool in the Page Background group. Word displays the Page Border tab of the Borders and Shading dialog box.
  3. Click on the Options button. Word displays the Border and Shading Options dialog box.
  4. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify how you want your border to appear. These controls are very similar to those used by Word to set up paragraph borders.
  5. Adjust the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right margin settings so they are larger than the amount of dead space imposed by your printer.
  6. Click on OK two times.

When you reprint, if the border still won't print, then it could be an interaction between your page margin settings and your page border settings. You should make sure that the page border settings are larger than your dead space, but less than the applicable page margin. Thus, if your page border is set to print on the bottom at 36 points (one-half inch), then your page margin for the bottom of the page should be greater than one-half inch.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6025) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Non-printing Page Borders.

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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