4 simple but not well-known printing solutions for Word documents

One of these simple printing tips might help you the next time you're faced with an unusual printing task.

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Most printing tasks are simple—a few clicks and you're done. Occasionally, you'll run into situations where your needs don't fit the normal routine. When that happens, there's usually a way to get what you need, but the solution isn't always intuitive. In this article, I'll show you four simple solutions for changing your printing outcome when normal settings can't get the job done. The only thing that relates these tips is that they're not well-known. You might never need all of them, but chances are you'll be able to put at least one of them to use.

I'm using Word 2016 (desktop) on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but these tips are compatible with earlier versions. There's no downloadable demonstration file.

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1. Print a section

Word's print feature is flexible, but the one thing you can't do is print a section. We use sections for a lot, so it's odd that you can't just choose Current Section from the settings; but you can't. You could use a range of page numbers, but that's too hard, especially if the section is long. Browsing through pages trying to remember where the next section starts would be tedious. Instead, use a printing code using the form ssectionnumber, where s represents "section." To learn what section is current, simply right-click the Status bar. As you can see in Figure A, the current section is section 3.


Figure A: Right-click the Status bar to see the current section number.

To print the current section (section 3), enter s3 in the Pages control, as shown in Figure B.


Figure B: Enter s3 in the Pages control to print a specific section.

Printing a specific section isn't difficult thanks to the print code but determining the section's number can be. If you do this often, add the Section indicator to the status bar. Right-click the status bar and check Section.

If you want to print a section, but the document's large, and you don't know exactly where the section is within the document, your task is harder. The Navigation pane can be helpful though. To display it, click the View tag and check Navigation Pane in the Show group. The resulting pane (to the left) will show only headings or full pages. Use the Headings view to get close to the section in question. Then, switch to Pages. As you thumb through the pages, a screen tip will display the page number and section.

Similar to the s code, you can use p to indicate pages. You can even combine the two. Table A lists a few possibilities for these codes.

Table A

Code Explanation
s1-s2 Prints sections 1 and 2
p1s1-p2s2 Prints page 1 of section 1 through page 2 of section 2
p1s1, p2s2 Prints page 1 of section 1 and page 2 of section 2 (only those two pages)
p4s3-p2s4 Prints page 4 of section 3 through page 2 of section 4
p2s2-p4s3, p1s1-p1s2 Prints page 2 of section 2 through page 4 of section three and page1 of section 1 through page 1 of section 2

Use the hyphen character (-) to indicate a range of pages or sections; use a comma to separate codes.

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2. Print keyboard shortcuts

If you prefer keyboard shortcuts to the mouse, you might like a list of shortcuts, right? I'd like to tell you it's a simple matter of enabling an option someplace before printing, but it isn't. It is, however, possible:

  1. Click the Developer tab.
  2. Click Macros in the Code group.
  3. In the Macros dialog, choose Word commands from the Macros in the dropdown (Figure C).
  4. In the resulting list, select ListCommands (Figure D).
  5. Click Run.

The next dialog will give you the option to print all commands but don't. Retain the Current keyboard settings option and click OK. You can then print the resulting document.


Figure C: Select the Word commands location.


Figure D: Choose ListCommands in the resulting list.

The list is about 10 pages long. You can save a few pages by reducing the margins and font, using AutoFit to Contents for the tables, and then arranging the table in two columns. Also, considering printing on both sides of the paper. This tip won't work in the browser edition.

3. Print multiple copies of different pages

When you print a document, you use the Copies setting to determine the number of copies you want. That doesn't work if you're using codes (#1), and you want a different number of copies for specific pages or sections. For example, let's suppose you want to print one copy of pages 1 and 2, but you want two copies of page 4. You can't do this using the Copies setting. The easy alternative is to repeat the pages in the Pages control, as follows:

1-2, 4, 4

The above code would print one copy of pages 1 through 2, and two copies of page 4 because you've specified page 4 twice. It's simple and it works. So, let's look at a more complicated example:

1, 1, 3-5, 3-5, 4

This code would print two copies of page 1, two copies of page 3, three copies of page 4, and two copies of page 5. This technique requires that you approach the print task differently than you're accustomed to, but it's so easy that you'll have no problem mastering it.

SEE: 10 all-purpose keyboard shortcuts to boost your Word efficiency (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

4. Remove hyperlinks before printing

Hyperlinks are great in an electronic file, but in a printed document, they serve no purpose. By default, Word adds a simple format to distinguish it: Underline and blue font. In a printed copy, you might not want the hyperlinks distinguished from the rest of the text. You could remove the hyperlinks manually by right-clicking a hyperlink and selecting Remove Hyperlink. If you have a lot of hyperlinks, that's tedious and fortunately, unnecessary. Instead, press Ctrl+a to select the entire document. Then, press Ctrl+Shift+F9 to strip all hyperlinks of their styled formats. You're ready to print.

Send me your question about Office

I answer readers' questions when I can, but there's no guarantee. Don't send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. You can send screenshots of your data to help clarify your question. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, "Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix what's wrong" probably won't get a response, but "Can you tell me why this formula isn't returning the expected results?" might. Please mention the app and version that you're using. I'm not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at susansalesharkins@gmail.com.

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By Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.