Save paper and frustration by customizing Word's Print button

Unnecessary printing wastes paper, ink, toner, and your users' time. Here's a quick tip to help you prevent users from accidentally printing 30-page reports when all they really need are pages 10 through 12.

Are your end users wasting reams of paper by clicking Word’s (or other Office applications') Print button when they only want to print a section of a document? Although Word offers plenty of options while printing, you can only access those options by choosing File To Print or pressing [Ctrl] P. Clicking the Standard toolbar Print icon dumps the entire document to the default printer, which might not be what your users want to do.

You can curb the excess printing waste by changing the Print icon so it summons the Print dialog box instead of sending the entire document to the printer. The icon will appear the same as always but will give the user the opportunity to set options before printing. I’ll demonstrate the technique with Microsoft Word, but you can use it for most Office applications.

Word 97
In Word 97, choose the Customize command to change the Print icon on the Standard toolbar. You can access this command in one of two ways: Select Tools | Customize or right-click one of your toolbars and choose Customize from the resulting dialog box.

Drag the Print button from the Standard toolbar. Then, make sure the File category is selected and scroll through the list of commands until you see the Print… command—the equivalent of the command you access from the File menu. As you can see in Figure A, this button looks a lot like its default counterpart. Drag this icon onto the Standard toolbar in place of the original Print button.

Figure A
Drag the Print… icon onto the Standard toolbar.

Word 2000
If you’re using Word 2000, you can use the same technique available in Word 97, but you have another option that’s even easier. On the right side of your toolbars, you’ll see a tiny drop-down arrow that reveals a single command, Add Or Remove Buttons. Clicking this command will invoke a list of suggested toolbar buttons, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Word 2000 gives you easy access to customizing toolbar icons.

Begin by deselecting the current Print button. Then, select the Print… button and click elsewhere on the Word window to dismiss the dialog box.

Regardless of the technique you use, clicking the familiar Print icon will now open the Print dialog box, shown in Figure C. From this dialog box, you can choose an alternative printer, specify a number of copies to print, or input a page range. If you want to send the entire document to the default printer, all you have to do is press [Enter] or click OK.

Figure C
The Print dialog box can help users save paper by printing only a specified page range or the current page.

Have it both ways
The obvious disadvantage with this technique is that your users will always see the Print dialog box when they click the Print button. Although they can send the full document to the default printer simply by pressing [Enter], this extra step might generate some frustration. Fortunately, you can use a variation on the toolbar modification trick to let your users choose how they want to print.

Of course, you could simply refrain from deleting the original Print button and just add the one that invokes the dialog box. But since they look very similar, they’re easy to confuse. If your users have ToolTips active, hovering the mouse over the buttons will reveal which one is which. (The original Print button also displays the printer name, while the one that invokes the dialog box simply displays “Print.”) But the point of two buttons is to let the users print without pausing.

Here’s how to make the option nearly foolproof—it works in both Word 97 and 2000. Begin by restoring the original Print button by repeating the techniques we just described. Now you’ll change the icon of the Print button so the user can’t confuse them.

With both Print buttons on the Standard toolbar, open the Customize dialog box by choosing Tools To Customize or right-clicking a toolbar and selecting Customize. For this article, I’ll change the icon of the original Print button. Click the Print button to activate the Modify Selection option in the Customize dialog box. Click this button, choose Change Button Image, and then select an icon from the pop-up list, shown in Figure D.

Figure D
Select an alternate icon to avoid Print button confusion.

With the Customize dialog box open, you can also right-click the button, choose Change Button Image from the resulting menu, and select another icon, as shown in Figure E. Regardless of which technique you use to access this menu, you can also choose Edit Button Image to customize the icon or create a new one or choose Reset Button Image to restore the default.

Figure E
You can customize an icon by right-clicking it with the Customize dialog box open.

Further study
To learn more about using and customizing Microsoft Word toolbars, check out these other articles and columns from Support Republic:

Get involved
If you have a great tip for Microsoft Word that saves you time and effort, we want to hear about it. Post a comment to this article and share your knowledge with your fellow TechRepublic members.


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