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Though most documents created today are viewed online, a great many are still printed. We frequently hear requests asking how to make printed Word documents use less paper. Reducing unused space on the page is the most obvious way to reduce your document's printed size. However, keep in mind that the balance between whitespace and text is a key factor in any document's readability—when there is too little whitespace, text is harder to read.
You should also consider the ways in which you are presenting your content. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words may not literally be true but using an image such as a chart or diagram can often reduce the amount of text that you need and overall take up less space. You should also consider arranging content to take full advantage of the page; one good approach is to use tables for layout within your pages to give you smaller regions in which to place your content.
The whitespace on the page comes from two sources—the boundary "box" around the text (set as part of the margins) and the spacing between the rows of text (set as spacing within and between paragraphs). The whitespace on your page can be adjusted using settings on the Page Layout tab.
In Word 2007, we reduced the default left and right margins from 1.25" to 1" to reduce the amount of whitespace used in margins (and therefore conserve paper). We were able to make this change for the default setting because typical monitor sizes and resolutions had improved to where a 6.5" width was quite readable on-screen.
Many people find even narrow margins comfortable for reading on paper. When setting margins, you can consider both the left/right distance and the top/bottom spacing. For the most dramatic reduction in whitespace, select the Narrow setting (0.5" on all four sides) from the Margin gallery:
An important consideration is that some printers can't print that close to the edge of the page. If that's the case, Word will warn you when you change the margins. You may want to use the Page Setup dialog to make more precise adjustments to the margins. The Custom Margins… option at the bottom of the gallery will open the Page Setup dialog with the Margins tab displayed.
Another thing to be cautious of when using the Narrow settings is that if you have a header or footer in your document, Narrow margins may not allow enough space for that text. Word won't allow the text to overlap, but will place your document text immediately next to your header or footer with no whitespace, which isn't very readable. You can use the settings on the Layout tab of the Page Setup dialog to adjust the placement of your header and footer.
If your document consists of a lot of lists or tables—which are often quite narrow—you may find that you get little savings from reducing the whitespace on the left and right edges of the page. One "trick" with tables is to fit your tables to their content and center them whenever possible; distributing the whitespace to either side makes the page seem less dense with text. You can often reduce the point size of the text in tables or lists because their formatting already helps improve their readability.
Word determines the spacing between paragraphs by comparing two different settings—the space after the paragraph and the space before the next paragraph—and using the largest value of the two. In addition to adjusting the spacing settings used for the Normal paragraphs in your document, you can often save a great deal of whitespace by adjusting the spacing used around your document's headings.
Changing the spacing between lines within the paragraphs is another way to adjust whitespace. In conversations with many people, I've come to believe that this is one of the most subjective aspects of readability. In Word 2007, the default spacing between lines is 15% greater than single space but many people see this as almost double-spaced (which would be 100% greater). And the default space after a Normal paragraph is 10 points, which gives less than one blank line between paragraphs.
You can use the line spacing control on the Home tab to change the line spacing and the settings in the Paragraph group of the Page Layout tab to adjust spacing between the paragraphs. Or you can adjust both using the Format Paragraph dialog.
If you'd like to use a layout created by one of the Microsoft designers to minimize whitespace within your text, use the Traditional style set (selecting it from the Change Styles->Style Sets menu on the Home tab).
One the factors that many people overlook when trying to manage the overall length of their documents in the impact made by their font selection. Consider the following examples of the English alphabet (all at the same point size):
As you can see, the change from Times New Roman to Calibri as the default font for text in Word resulted in a reduction of the overall length of text. Calibri was chosen because most documents are read online and are usually fairly short; for printing of longer documents, many typographers state that a font like Cambria, Georgia, or Times New Roman would be more appropriate.
Although you can always change the font used for your text by selecting the text and changing the font using the Font dropdown, a better long-term approach is to change the fonts used for the document theme and referenced by the styles in your document.
If you are working with the style sets that are part of Word 2007, the styles are already designed to work with themes. On the Home tab, select the Change Styles control and then point to the Fonts entry to see the list of pairings created for the Office 2007 Themes. You can use one of these pairings, or use the Create New Theme Fonts command to create your own pair to be used in your documents.
If you are working with styles that are not theme-based, you need to edit each style directly to change the font used. You can either specify a font directly for the style or update the style to be theme-based by referencing the Body or Heading entries from the Font control. A style that is theme-based will list +Headings or +Body as its font rather than a specific font name.
You are using styles, aren't you? If not, then you can still take advantage of theme-based formatting by using the Body and Heading entries from the start of the Font dropdown. To help reinforce the idea that they relate the font back to the theme, the Body and Heading entry show the currently assigned Theme font when displayed in the Font dropdown but not in the Font dialog box.
All of the changes discussed here can dramatically change the overall length of your document and therefore the amount of paper you use when printing. Which changes work best for a given document has a lot to do with the specific content on the page. However, you can change your starting point for new documents to encourage yourself to minimize the paper you use.
You'll find it easiest to decide on a new look if you use a document that is typical for the way you work as a starting point. The document should have several typical paragraphs as well as samples of any headings or other styles that you use.
To start, decide on the amount of space on the page you are going to use for text, and how much you're reserving for the margins. Make margin adjustments using the Page Setup dialog, and when you are satisfied with them, select the Default button. This Default button stores the Page Setup settings as the part of the current template—for blank documents created by Word, this is shown as the NORMAL template.
Once you've defined the area that will contain your text, it's time to make adjustments to the whitespace within your text. As a first step, decide on the fonts you want to use for your headings and body text. Use the Change Styles control on the Home tab to access the list of pre-defined font pairs and the Create New Theme Fonts command for creating your own font pairs.
Next, adjust the spacing for each of the styles used in your document. Use the commands on the Ribbon or those in the Format Paragraph dialog box to set the whitespace used for each style. Consider both the spacing between lines (most important for your body text) as well as the spacing between paragraphs (most important for headings). Once a paragraph has the spacing you want for that style, right-click on the paragraph, point to the Styles entry, and select Update <style> to Match Selection. This will change the definition for that style. (The text "<style>" in the command above will be replaced with the name of the style you are updating.)
After making those changes, select the Set as Default command from the Change Styles control on the Home tab to store those settings for your new document. This stores the settings for the style definitions and the theme controls. Note that if the Set as Default command lists a specific template, the settings are only stored for new documents based on that template—if it just says "Set as Default," then you're storing the settings for your new blank documents.
Word has several other features worth considering when thinking about conserving paper.
Word provides finer control over the spacing of the characters in your document on the Character Spacing tab of the Format Font dialog. Activating kerning for your text makes the text more readable and often reduces the length of your document slightly. If the performance of your machine allows it, we recommend enabling kerning for the styles you commonly use. You can also make manual adjustments in character spacing, which can often be used to squeeze a heading that almost fits onto a single line.
Documents created in other countries may define a different paper size than what is available in your printer. Be default, Word will scale the content of these documents to use the available paper (which is the best way to conserve paper). If you want to confirm that this setting is active, display the Word Options dialog from the Office Button menu and then in the Advanced group to make sure that the Scale Content for A4 or 8.5 x 11" paper sizes option in Printing section is selected.
If you want Word to reduce the number of pages used for your document by automatically making adjustments to various settings, first go to the Print Preview view (accessed by selecting Print and then Print Preview). In the Print Preview tab, you'll find a Shrink One Page command in the Preview group. Select Shrink One Page to have Word reduce the number of pages in your document by adjusting margins, reducing the font size, and other such changes. But be sure to check your document to be certain you're happy with the adjusted results—the command won't remove inserted page breaks, so some pages may end up with blank space when the text is shortened. How many pages the command actually reduces varies depending on the starting format of your document and your content.
You can also print your document with more than one page per printed sheet. Word offers a control to enable this on the Print dialog (Page per Sheet in the Zoom group) and many printers also offer the same sort of option (in their Properties dialog). If both are available, you may get faster output by letting the printer do the work rather than using the Word setting. But never use both—otherwise, Word will produce two pages per sheet and then the printer will place two sheets on each printed page resulting in 4 sheets per page, which is too small for almost anyone to read.
I hope others will share their suggestions for minimizing the amount of paper used when printing by adding comments to this article. And we're all helping by reading this and other documents online.
I picked up one gem today from your post -- Word determines the spacing between paragraphs by comparing two different settings—the space after the paragraph and the space before the next paragraph—and using the largest value of the two. I never knew this. I don't know how many times I've tried to get the spacing between paragraphs just right and gave up. This answers my question. Any more tips like this are welcome. By the way, I love Office 2008. It's a huge improvement. My favorite is seeing changes in the document when hovering over something in the ribbon. Great work.
Great Stuff. I leart a lot from this post. Keep it up. www.iyogi.net/microsoftoperatingsystem.html
Andrew - The feature you mention is called "Live Preview." For more info on it check-out blogs.msdn.com/.../word-2007-s-new-ui-galleries-and-live-preview.aspx -Jonathan (MS)
You need to teach this info to your Technet documentation team. For example, the downloadable Word files of the SharePoint guides at technet2.microsoft.com/.../700c3d60-f394-4ca9-a6d8-ab597fc3c31b1033.mspx waste a tremendous amount of paper, big fonts, poor page breaks and a ridicuously long table of contents are the primary causes
Documents with a high proportion of short lines (procedure manuals with multiple subhead levels, code listings, etc.) look great in 2-column, and use fewer pages. Include appropriate keep conditions in the styles and you can produce very nice looking greener documents. For code listings, a 2-column layout set on a landscape oriented page works well, and provides a bit more horizontal room on lines.
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Hi Stuart, Thanks for the useful article..
But I’ve a problem regarding the Table of Authorities feature in Word 2007.. After creating the TOA entries, I can’t replace the entry category. It seems that the Replace feature doesn't work? I also want to know what is the function of the Use passim check box, appears in the Table of Authorities dialogue box when creating the table. Thanks a lot,
Hi Stuart, I could modify the TOA entry category by changing the number that follows the ‘c’ letter at the end of the field code.. any other suggestions? Thanks
m_anter: Editing the field code or recreating the entries are the ways that I can think of for changing a TOA entry from one category to another. My understanding was that TOA entries are always only one type of category so that this is not a common task. (Please educate me if this is not the case.) I think the best route for understanding "Use passim" would be to check with someone in the legal field. I only know that the feature works as our legal reviewers expect but not how or when it is correctly used in a document. -Stuart
Another green, paper-saving idea: turn off widow and orphan control. Although most publishers do avoid short lines at the tops of pages, many ignore short lines at the bottoms. Short lines at the bottoms of pages don't seem to cause misreading and, I think, may actually help pull readers to the next page. What's more, the doc itself, having pages of more uniform depth, looks neater. Looking for those short lines at the tops of pages is a chore, particularly in Word, but maybe some clever person can write a macro to flag them for us. But the bonus is fewer pages. In a long 75+ page documents, turning this feature off once saved three pages. Usually it's around a page saved. Pam
I mean that I can't perform that task using the default steps, according to the following link: office.microsoft.com/.../HP012265001033.aspx Either the Replace feature doesn't work or I didn't understand its function correctly.. I'm not sure.. Thanks in advance for your help