Useable Printed Pages with Markup

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 3, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When printing a document that has markup (both changes and comments), Michal gets a wide margin on the right of the page and the printed pages are shrunk so far that the print is too small for him to read and work comfortably. He tried to get rid of the comments and have the tracking inline (without balloons), but that did not help. As long as he has markup in the document, Michal cannot get printed pages at a usable size. He wonders how he can get a printout of a document that has changes and/or comments so that the text will be printed on a full page?

The problem is one related to available space. Let's say you have a document with average text density. If you print this document, you can obviously read it just fine, given normal usage of font sizes and formatting. Now, throw some tracked changes in there and things get a bit more challenging. However, you can still read what is printed, provided you have changes not displayed using balloons (as Michal is doing).

Now throw comments into the mix. Include this type of markup in your printout, and all of a sudden you are cramming a bunch more information into the available space, and something has to give. You cannot print comments on top of existing text, and they cannot appear inline, like changes can. So, how do you include them and still get page breaks where you expect on your document? The answer is to shrink the output so that you can see the pages and the comments on each page.

It is the shrunken output that is the problem Michal is experiencing—it makes that text in the printed pages too small to see; it makes it unusable.

There are only three possible answers to this problem:

  • Don't print markup, or limit what markup is printed.
  • Change how you create your output.
  • Change the characteristics of the media on which you print.

The first option is one that Michal is already attempting when he turns off balloons for changes. You could, of course, do your printout without any markup at all, as described in this tip:

While that will give you the most usable text, it won't give you the markup which you may want to have printed record of on the printout. Again, this is another usability issue, as it doesn't give you something that is fully useful.

The second option is implemented through printing not to paper, but to a PDF file. In the process of creating the PDF you have the option of including your markup in the output file. If it will not fit on the page, then some PDF creators will take that markup and put it on the page immediately following the text. What you then end up with is two pages for each page—one containing the text and the second containing the markup for that text. This is quite usable and readable, though it obviously uses more paper in your printout.

The third option may be the best approach, but it will take some testing. Since the problem, as already noted, is available space, the idea is to provide more space in your printout. One way to do this is to increase the right margin of your page, which prints less text on each page but provides a bigger space in which to print the markup. (Markup is printed to the right of the text, and if you increase the available space to the right of the text, you provide more space for the markup to appear.)

Of course, increasing the right margin of your page also means you are printing less text on each page, and you might find that problematic. If you have a printer that can handle larger paper sizes, then there is a great approach you can use—combine margin adjustments with a larger paper size. For instance, in the US, "letter size" is a standard paper size. Another standard paper size is twice the size of letter, and it is often called "ledger size" or "tabloid size." Whereas letter size is 8.5" x 11", the larger size is 11" x 17".

Assuming your printer can print on the larger size (as many officer copiers can), then simply change your paper size to 11" x 17", change the orientation to landscape, and increase your right margin by 8.5". What you end up with is a huge area (equivalent to a full letter-size page) in which your markup can appear, and your text is the same as it would be on a regular letter-size printout. After all your markup is resolved and removed, you can easily undo the three changes (paper size, orientation, and right margin) to have your final document printed on letter-size paper.

This same approach can be utilized even if your printer cannot print ledger- or tabloid-sized pages, as long as it can print any size pages larger than letter. For instance, some can print on legal-sized pages (8.5" x 14"). In that case, just go through the same process described above, but adjust the right margin according to the size of the paper and you can get more usable printed output than you would on letter size.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13329) 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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What is seven more than 9?

2023-06-03 11:48:37


If printing to pdf, you can set the output size to 11x17 like in the tip, then, if your printer allows, print each page as a poster to two 8.5x11 and tape them together to have the text and markup side by side.

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