Specifying Paper Trays for Specific Pages in a Single Print Job

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 22, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021

David has a document that contains just under 30 pages. When he prints the document, he would like odd pages to be printed from tray 1 of the printer and even pages to be printed from tray 2. He wonders if there is a way to specify that certain pages should be printed from certain paper trays all within the same print job? (If he performs separate print jobs, then the pages are not in the correct collation. If he can print in a single print job, then they are all collated correctly.)

There is no inherent capability to do this within Word, at least not as David has envisioned. Word allows you to modify how print jobs are handled, with the parameters allowed by your printer driver. For most printer drivers you can specify which paper tray to use for your job. You can also specify whether Word should print even or odd pages. When you combine the two settings, you could specify that even pages be printed from one tray, and then do a second job to specify that odd pages be printed from the other tray.

That is not what David desires, however. He would like a way to print all pages at once and have the pages alternate between two trays. One could envision a similar need where you want every third page or every fifth page to print from a different print tray. Word does not allow this level of control from within the program, however.

Theoretically you could do your printing using a macro. The following example will print alternating pages of your document to two different printer trays:

Sub PrintUsingTwoTrays()
    Dim sUseTrays(1) As String
    Dim sTray As String
    Dim iPgs As Integer
    Dim J As Integer

    ' Set up paper trays to use
    sUseTrays(0) = "Tray 2"    ' Tray for even pages
    sUseTrays(1) = "Tray 1"    ' Tray for odd pages

    ' Get total pages in document
    iPgs = Selection.Information(wdNumberOfPagesInDocument)

    ' Save current tray setting
    sTray = Options.DefaultTray

    For J = 1 To iPgs
        Options.DefaultTray = sUseTrays(J Mod 2)

        ActiveDocument.PrintOut Range:=wdPrintFromTo, _
          From:=Trim(Str(J)), To:=Trim(Str(J))
    Next J

    ' Restore original tray setting
    Options.DefaultTray = sTray
End Sub

The key to using the macro is to make sure that you set the sUseTrays(0) and sUseTrays(1) variables to be the names of your two printer trays. These names may vary from printer driver to printer driver, so if the macro doesn't work for you, you'll want to check the exact names of your paper trays as understood by Word. Do this by displaying the Word Options dialog box, clicking Advanced at the left side of the dialog box, and then scrolling down to the Print section. There you'll see a Default Tray drop-down list that shows all the tray names defined within your printer driver.

You should also note that this approach works great for alternating between two paper trays. If you want to have the macro print to different trays for every 3 or every 5 pages, then you'll need to modify the use of the sUseTrays array and modify how the DefaultTray property is set based on page number.

The macro approach ends up doing a print job for individual pages within your document. Thus, in David's case, if he has a document with 27 pages, then the macro generates 27 print jobs, one for each page in the document. This means that printing using the macro will be slower than if you print a single print job, due to the overhead introduced by Word, Windows, and your printer for each print job. It also means that if you are printing to a shared printer, it is theoretically possible for some else's print job to be handled in the middle of your 27 print jobs.


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10372) 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. ...


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