Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Comments Use Tiny Font when Printed.

Comments Use Tiny Font when Printed

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 28, 2022)

Laura uses Word to grade her students' essays. She loves the comment feature; it allows her to help them revise sentences or gives her space to explain something they've done wrong or right. With younger students, she tends to keep her comments short. With older students, she often needs more room. When the student or Laura prints the essay with these comments, the font is extremely small. If her students are going to read her comments, Laura has to make it as easy and accessible for them as possible. She can increase the size of the comment text on the screen but printing always results in extremely small type. Laura wonders if there is a way to print out with comments using a larger font, at least comparable to the font she uses for the comments on the screen.

There are a couple of things at play here that figure into a complete answer. First of all, it is important to realize that there are two ways that comments can be printed in Word. First, you can print comments in balloons, as they normally appear on the screen. Second, you can print comments on a separate page.

When you are using Word 2007 you control how comments are printed by using the controls in the Print dialog box. (Press Ctrl+P to display the Print dialog box.) The Print What drop-down list allows you to select a number of different options. Two of those options are germane to comments, however:

  • Document Showing Markup. This option prints your document with the comments shown in-place, using balloons. This is essentially how you see the comments if you are viewing your document in Print Layout view.
  • List of Markup. This option produces a comments list, on a separate piece of paper.

There is no Print dialog box, per se, in later versions of Word. When you press Ctrl+P you see the Print portion of the File tab. You specify what you want to print by clicking the drop-down list immediately under the Settings label. You can then use the List of Markup and Print Markup settings to specify what you want printed.

The method of printing you choose is important. If you choose to print the document showing the markup (using balloons), then Word uses a different style to control the printing of the text in the balloons than if you choose to print the list of markup. Here are the styles that apparently control the formatting of comments:

  • Comment Reference. This style controls the formatting of any comment references within the main body of your text.
  • Comment Text. This style controls the formatting of the text used to print comments. When it comes to printing it only has bearing when you choose to print a list of markup.
  • Balloon Text. This style controls the formatting of the comments when they appear in balloons, whether displayed or printed.

There is also a style called Comment Subject. It is unclear how or when Word uses this style automatically.

Theoretically, it is possible to change how comments are formatted when printed by making changes to the above styles. (How you change styles is discussed in other WordTips.) I say "theoretically" because there may be other factors at play, as well. For instance, if you choose to print comments in balloons, and you use a font size that Word considers too large to display the balloon properly in relation to the main document, then it may "scale" the balloon to print it. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to get around this scaling without printing the comments on a separate markup list.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9351) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Comments Use Tiny Font when Printed.

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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