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Fancy Tricks with the Print Dialog Box

. . . tricks with the print dialog box? What the heck is the print dialog box?

Randy Scott

Having written our document, carefully crafted each sentence, spell-checked numerous times and corrected every misstep with “there,” “their,” and “they’re,” the next step is to print the document. When we choose the Office menu (upper left corner of the screen) and then choose print, we access the print dialog box:


(The screen shots in this article are all from Microsoft Word 2007, running on a Windows 7 system or from Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac, running on a Mac OS X 10.6.6 system. Your dialog box may vary, but it should contain all the features discussed in this article.)

For most of us, the only action we take on these dialog boxes is to click the "OK" or "Print" button.

One of the most useful tricks is found by accessing the “Properties” dialog in the upper right corner or, on the Mac, the “Copies & Pages” drop-down menu:


The “Pages per Sheet” drop down menu allows you to print your document with 2, 4, 6, 8 or 16 pages reduced to fit on one piece of paper. On the Mac, select “Layout” from the drop down menu to access a similar set of options. In addition, you have the option to “Print Page Borders” as well as the order in which you wish the pages to appear. The Mac offers a couple of options for the border in addition to icons indicating the order that the pages will appear.


(The “Pages per sheet” is also accessible on the initial print dialog for Windows just without the options.)


For example, here is a (much reduced) version of my Spring 2011 syllabus for Math 280:

So how can you use the multi-page layout features? If you have a BIG syllabus, you can print it 4 or 6 pages to a piece of paper, and if you print two-sided, you can save a big stack of paper. An 11 page syllabus (yep, you know who you are!), printed 6 to a page, two-sided will save 200 sheets of paper in a class of 40 students. For those students who need a full-sized copy, upload the full-size document to your webpage and let them download and print their syllabus on their own dime.

 There are a variety of other options available on the print dialog box, but many of them are dependent on the specific printer and printer driver software. If you take a little time to experiment, you may surprise yourself!

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