Setting a Precise Custom Paper Size

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 6, 2018)

Richard is trying to set up a custom paper size in Word. He needs a paper size that is exactly 7" x 10". Whenever he does this, however, Word automatically changes his paper size to JIS B5, which is 7.16" x 10.12". This is frustrating, and Richard wonders how he can get the precise paper size he needs.

Let's look at theory first. The way that it is supposed to work in Word is that you can specify just about any paper size you want:

  1. Display the Layout or Page Layout tab of the ribbon. (The name of the tab will differ, depending on your version of Word.)
  2. Click the small icon at the lower-right corner of the Page Setup group. Word displays the Page Setup dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Paper tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Paper tab of the Page Setup dialog box.

  5. Scroll the options in the Paper Size drop-down list (top of the dialog box) and choose Custom Size.
  6. Change the Width and Height options to your desired sizes (7 x 10).
  7. Near the bottom of the dialog box, make sure the Apply To drop-down list is set to Whole Document.
  8. Click on OK to close the dialog box.

At this point you should be able to save your document, and the next time you work with the document, the margins remain the same as you set them.

Noticed I started out by saying that this is theory. That is because your margins can be affected by other settings in Word. The biggest culprit? Your printer driver. If your printer driver won't handle the size of paper you specify, Word may helpfully adjust your page size to something the printer can handle. If the page size you choose is too far beyond what the printer can handle, you might see an error message or some notification, but if the size difference is small (as in Richard's case), Word just makes the change for you.

If you find yourself in this situation, you might try a macro to "undo" any automatic change made by Word. Here's a simple one:

Sub Create7x10Page()
    With Selection.PageSetup
        .PageWidth = InchesToPoints(7)
        .PageHeight = InchesToPoints(10)
    End With
End Sub

Run this when you first open the document, and things should be back to what you expect.

To me, the better long-term solution is to use a printer driver that matches the output device you will be using, and make sure that the output device will work at the size you want. A good choice is to choose a printer driver that creates PDFs instead of physically printed paper. PDFs are very flexible on margins, and you may notice your problem disappear entirely. If your document is destined for another source (such as a printing firm or third-party), check with them for the proper printer driver that will match their equipment.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13569) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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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