Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Printing Color Separations with VBA.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 17, 2018)
Word does not have the inherent capability to print color separations. Instead, you typically must use a full-featured desktop publishing program such as InDesign to accomplish this task. That being said, you can perform a rudimentary form of color separation by simply changing the text color you don't want to print to white, and then printing the document. Reversing the process will then print the other color.
For instance, the following VBA macro will allow you to print color-separated text for a document that contains both red and black text:
Sub PrintSeps() ActiveDocument.Save Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory Selection.Find.ClearFormatting Selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting 'Change Red to White Selection.Find.Font.ColorIndex = wdRed Selection.Find.Replacement.Font.ColorIndex = wdWhite With Selection.Find .Text = "" .Replacement.Text = "" .Forward = True .Wrap = wdFindContinue .Format = True .MatchCase = False .MatchWholeWord = False .MatchWildcards = False .MatchSoundsLike = False .MatchAllWordForms = False End With Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll ActiveDocument.PrintOut 'Change White back to Red Selection.Find.Font.ColorIndex = wdWhite Selection.Find.Replacement.Font.ColorIndex = wdRed Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll 'Change Auto to White Selection.Find.Font.ColorIndex = wdAuto Selection.Find.Replacement.Font.ColorIndex = wdWhite Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll 'Change Black to White Selection.Find.Font.ColorIndex = wdBlack Selection.Find.Replacement.Font.ColorIndex = wdWhite Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll 'Change Red to Black 'This is done so that Red will print as Black 'On some printers, non-black colors always 'print as a shade of gray. You want them only 'as black Selection.Find.Font.ColorIndex = wdRed Selection.Find.Replacement.Font.ColorIndex = wdBlack Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll ActiveDocument.PrintOut ActiveWindow.Close SaveChanges:=wdDoNotSaveChanges End Sub
Note a couple of things about the PrintSeps macro. First, it saves your document. This is done because when the macro is done running, it throws out the document. Saving allows you to load the document from disk at a later time. The other thing to note is that this works only for documents that contain only red and black text. If you have other colors, those colors will print on both passes. If you have white text, it will print with the red pass. If you have graphics, no separation is done on them. (If you have graphics and want them separated, you definitely should be using a desktop publishing program.)
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11243) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Printing Color Separations with VBA.
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