Even though paper and ink have supposedly been obsolete for about 25 years, most of us find ourselves printing documents occasionally. That means you really should know something about printing, if you use a computer on a regular basis.
Printing, like everything else on Windows, is actually more complicated than it should be, but it is fairly easy to master. Still, it surprises me how many supposedly tech savvy and computer literate people don’t know how to print a document properly. So here are a few tips that can help you create nice-looking printed documents.
Now, if you want a decent looking print job, the first and important piece of advice I can give you is don’t use print screen! Repeat: Don’t use print screen! All print screen does is sends whatever is on the screen to the printer; it does not format the document or give you any real control. Another big problem with print screen is that it does not give you a choice of printers. If you’ve got one printer hooked up, this is fine. But in a big office where they have dozens of printers, your document can print anywhere.
If you want real control, you will need to use the printer features on the tool bar. In most Microsoft Office applications, you can find this by clicking on File on the upper left-hand corner. This brings up a drop-down menu that gives you a print option. Click on that; don’t click on the little printer icon that you see in the tool bar.
Printer Options You Might Not Know You Have
The reason you want to use the print feature in the drop-down menu is pretty obvious. It gives you far more control over your print job. You can choose the printer, the number of pages and much more.
For example, you can decide what page you want to print in a document. This feature is in the middle of the Print window on the left-hand corner. You can print all, print a page or select the pages you want to print. This means that if you need just a page of a document, you don’t have to waste a ton of paper and expensive ink. You can print just what you need. Some versions of Windows also let you print only a selection.
Another option a lot of people don’t realize is that you can choose how many copies of a document you want to print. Just look in the lower right side of the Print screen. This means you don’t have to go to all the trouble of printing out a document and copying it. You can create as many copies as you need, straight from the file – it looks better and it saves time.
Yet another option you may not be aware of is copies per page. You can print several copies per page of a document. If you are making something small like a poster, this can save a lot of time.
If you really want to get serious about printing, take a look at the properties box. This is in the upper right-hand side of the Print Window and it’s a really valuable resource. This gives you all sorts of choices that you probably did not realize you had.
The HP Office Jet 4500 I’m using gives me a number of shortcuts including double-sided or duplex printing. Yes, you can save money by printing on both sides of a page. It also lets you choose postcard, photo and a batch of other specialized print jobs.
A handy money saving feature most people do not know about is that you can turn off the color printing. If you click on the features tab and look towards the bottom you should see the color options. If you choose grayscale, you can save money because documents will print in black and white.
Another way to save money is to change the print quality from normal to first draft. If you’re just printing out something to proofread, it will use less ink. You can improve the quality of your documents by selecting best.
Other options you get are printing landscape on one side or portrait which is the standard printing. You can also choose the paper type and the size of paper. Contrary to popular belief, most printers can be set to print in legal. Also, you can set the computer so that legal sized documents print on normal paper which is called 8 X 15. That too can save time and money.
You should definitely take a look at the advanced options because these can save a lot of time and trouble. My computer gives me the option to print all text as black. This means that actual human beings will be able to read all of the text in your presentation.
If you’re using the computer at the office, take a close look at this. It may give even more interesting options. If you are printing a long document, make sure it is collated. This means that it comes out in page order which can be a real time-saver. Another time-saver is to staple it; most copy machines these days actually staple. This means that you do not have to staple documents. It also means the document stays together, so that the guy from sales doesn’t mess up your presentation looking for the Chinese menu he just printed out.
A final word of advice – If you are having something printed commercially, turn it into a PDF before you send it to the printer. The best way to do this is to use Adobe Acrobat or Adobe’s server. If Acrobat is installed on your computer, you should have Adobe PDF as an option on your printer. Set the printer to it and print, and Acrobat does the rest.
If you don’t have Acrobat, non-Adobe PDF makers do not work, so never use them. Adobe Reader will not display non-Adobe PDFs. Instead, use Adobe’s official PDF creator. You can find it here: