Stopping Margins from Moving

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 29, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Michelle created a Word document, but when her sales team opens it, the margins move. She wonders how she can stop this from happening.

This question is actually "squishy," meaning with more information it would be easier to focus in on a solution. For instance, what does it mean that the margins move? On the computers used by sales team members? On Michelle's computer when it comes back from the sales team?

For the purposes of this tip, I'm going to assume that the issue is that when sales team member A (we'll call her Tina) opens the document, the margins look different than when it is opened by sales team member B (we'll call him Bob). And, the margins evident in both Tina's and Bob's systems are different than those seen by Michelle.

There could be many reasons for this happening. Here are just a few:

  • Are all three people viewing the document using the same viewing mode? If one is using Print Layout view, another Draft view, and still another Read Mode view, then the margins will look different on all three. (They likely wouldn't be different if printed, but will appear different on-screen.)
  • Is the document being opened on each system in Word, or is the user double-clicking to open it within an e-mail program?
  • Are all three using Word on the same type of system? Documents can be opened on just about any type of system you might possibly imagine (including tablets), and each results in the document looking different.
  • If all three are using the same type of system, do all three have the same printer drivers installed? Word can actively change how a document looks based on what printer drivers are in use.
  • Do all three systems have the same fonts installed? Differing fonts won't change margins, but it will change how text flows within the margins, and that can give the appearance of the margins having changed.
  • Are Bob or Tina in a different country than Michelle? If so, then a document designed for a letter-sized page is possibly being viewed on a system that works with an A4 paper size, or vice-versa.
  • Are all of the systems using the same template and/or the same theme? Templates and themes can have a huge effect on how a document is displayed.

Most of the above are an issue because Word is, well, a word processing program. It literally "processes" words to dynamically change the appearance of any document open within it, and that can be a bit disconcerting.

Appearance may not be such a big deal, however, if Bob (or Tina) sends the report back to Michelle and it appears as expected on her machine. If it is a big deal and Michelle wants the report to be "locked down" so it looks the same on all machines, then the best bet is to not use a Word document. Instead, Michelle can create a PDF from the Word document and distribute the PDF to everyone.

If a Word document must be distributed and the documents are coming back changed by Bob and Tina, then the best bet may be to protect the document using the tools available on the Review tab of the ribbon.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9764) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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. ...


Displaying the Navigation Pane when Opening a Document

The Navigation pane can be a big help in moving around a document. If you want to make sure it is always displayed for ...

Discover More

ExcelTips Ribbon 2020 Archive (Table of Contents)

ExcelTips is a weekly newsletter that provides tips on how to effectively use Microsoft's best-selling spreadsheet ...

Discover More

Editing PivotTables without Underlying Data

If you ever try to edit a PivotTable and get an error that tells you that the "underlying data was not included," it can ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

An Exact Number of Lines Per Page

For some purposes, you may need to fit an exact number of lines on a printed page. This may be easier said than done, as ...

Discover More

Creating Point Pages

Want to add a page, with a different page number, in Word without affecting the entire document? The solution is a bit ...

Discover More

Understanding the Gutter Margin

Most everyone knows that Word allows you to set top, bottom, left, and right margins for your document. There is another ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five more than 6?

2023-05-02 00:09:51

sunny wong

Thanks Allen for very useful information.
instead of "locked-down" is it possible to find out the components (paper size, font, printer driver) used with original document? Having the settings of original document helps recipient troubleshoot, if not replicate, when document don't appear same when it need further processing such as editing and/or printing.
For me, printing a PDF is less than ideal because conversion from Word can result in different Font; print of very fine text becomes problematic.

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.


FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.