Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Errors while Printing.

Errors while Printing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 15, 2015)

Do you ever get confusing error messages when you try to print a document? This can be frustrating, particularly if you are only trying to print a small document and the error message doesn't make sense.

There are any number of reasons why errors may crop up when printing, and any number of things you can check to eliminate the problem. One thing to check is the system resources available when the printing error occurs. System resources can be allocated and not freed by an errant program—even when the program is no longer running! One way to test for this sort of problem is to restart your system and immediately try printing the document. If it prints without problem, then low system resources is probably the culprit.

Anyone who has had printer problems in Windows systems before knows that the first thing to check is to ensure you have the latest and greatest printer driver installed. You can verify this by a quick trip to the printer manufacturer's Web site. You should also ensure that the printer Properties dialog box (which reflects the settings applied to the printer driver) has settings that match the true capabilities of your printer. For instance, you should always ensure that the printer memory setting in the Properties dialog box matches the true amount of memory you have installed in your printer.

It is also possible that graphics within the document are causing the problem. This can be true if there are a large number of linked or complex graphics. (If the graphics are linked, they won't contribute to a larger document size since only a link is saved, but they will affect the size of the file sent to the printer.) To test this out, turn off the printing of graphics and try to print the document. You can turn off graphics printing by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Advanced.
  3. Scroll through the options until you see the Print section. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Print options in the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Use Draft Quality check box is selected.
  6. Click on OK.

The problem may also lie in the temporary folder used by Word. For instance, if temporary files are stored in C:\TEMP on your system, you should exit all programs and check the contents of the folder. It is easy for the folder to "fill up" with old temporary files that are no longer needed. Select the files and delete them, thereby freeing up a large chunk of disk space on your system. This can help clear up some printing problems.

If the printing problem is with a single document, it may be because the document itself is damaged. Because damaged documents are inherently unstable, they can cause error messages that are not related to the true problem. In this case, you need to recover the data in the document as best you can and get rid of the offending document. You can find some help in this area from this Knowledge Base article:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/918429

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6110) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Errors while Printing.

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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