Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Selecting Printing of Color Pictures.

Selecting Printing of Color Pictures

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 11, 2017)

It seems that more and more Word documents contain color pictures. When you print the documents, the value of the pictures depends on the quality of the printer on which you are printing. For instance, if you print to a black and white printer, then some of your color images may not contain the detail or clarity that they would if printed on a color printer.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could tell Word to omit color graphics when printing to a black and white printer, but to include them if printing to a color printer? Unfortunately, life is not that simple. Word does not have any such option, nor is there a completely satisfactory method available to simulate such a capability.

It is possible to select each of your graphics and set the hidden attribute for them. Doing so would omit the printing of the graphic, provided you tell Word to not print hidden text. You can use the Search and Replace feature of Word to change the attributes, or you can create a macro to define every graphic in the document as hidden. You could then create a different macro that would unhide them all. Simply run one macro if you want to turn off printing of graphics, and the other when you want to turn it back on.

The obvious problem with such an approach is that in some documents you may have a need for hidden graphics. If you do, then the first time you run the "unhide" macro, all the legitimately hidden graphics will become unhidden, thereby messing up your formatting.

The other option is to make sure that all your graphics are placed on Word's drawing layer. This is not as easy as it sounds, as it is possible (and reasonable) for graphics to also be in other places besides the drawing layer. But, if you had a document where they really were all on the drawing layer, then you can display the Word Options dialog box, click Display at the left side of the dialog box, and then turn off the Print Drawings Created in Word check box. Automatically, the items on the drawing layer would be omitted from your printout.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10393) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Selecting Printing of Color Pictures.

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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