Printing PowerPoint: Slide size v. Printer Page size
If you need to do more than just print basic presentations to standard size paper, this little tutorial will help you understand how PowerPoint interacts with printers and page sizes.
One print job, Three print settings
PowerPoint looks at three different things when it decides how large to print slides:
- The PowerPoint Slide Size setting in the File, Page Setup dialog box: this determines how large an imaginary slide is.
- The Printer Page Size setting in the printer driver: this determines what size paper the slides print on.
- The "Scale to fit paper" setting in the Print dialog box: this determines what size PowerPoint prints the slide on the chosen paper.
When you print, PowerPoint looks at the "Scale to fit" setting. If it's check-marked, PowerPoint scales your slides to fit as large as possible on the current Printer Page Size without distortion or cropping. For example, if you've set a PowerPoint Slide Size of 1" high by 20" wide and choose Landscape, Letter (8.5 x 11") paper in the printer driver settings, PowerPoint will scale the 20" dimension to the 11" paper size.
Note: Actually it scales the slide size to the maximum printable area of the printer, which is usually a bit less than the full page size.
If you turn "Scale to fit" off, PowerPoint sends the slide at its current PowerPoint Slide Size to the printer with no scaling. It centers the slide on the paper and that's it. If the Slide Size is smaller than the paper, you get a small slide centered on the paper. If the Slide Size is larger than the paper, you get as much of the middle of the slide as fits on the paper; the rest is cropped at the edges.
Here's more information on how to make each of these settings.
PowerPoint Slide Size
You can set PowerPoint's Slide Size using File, Page Setup. There you can choose any of several standard sizes or enter your own custom size.
Note: In PowerPoint 2007, choose Page Setup on the Design tab. In PowerPoint 97 and previous, choose File, Slide Setup. Same options, just a different name on the menu.
Printer Page Size
You can set the printer's Page Size from PowerPoint's Print dialog box.
- Choose File, Print from the main menu bar (or in 2007, Office Button, Print, Print).
- Under "Printer", next to "Name" select the printer you want to use.
- Click Properties to open the Document Properties dialog box for your printer.
- Choose the paper size you want to print to. Each printer is different, so we can't give specific instructions.
- Clik OK to close the printer's Document Properties dialog box and return to the Print dialog box.
- To see the results of your change without actually printing, click the Preview button in the lower left corner of the Print dialog box (in PowerPoint 2002 and later).
Changes you make here affect the printer for just the current PowerPoint session. If you quit and restart PowerPoint, or even switch to a different program to print a different document, you'll need to check your printer driver settings again.
To change the default printer settings, choose the Windows Start button then choose Settings, Printers. Right-click the printer you want to change and choose Printing Preferences from the pop-up menu. You'll see same dialog box as above, but the settings you make here will be the default printer settings.
Print Preview is your Friend
If you use PowerPoint 2002 or later, use the Print Preview feature, accessible either from the main menu (Print, Preview) or from within the Print dialog box (Preview button). Of the two, the Print dialog box is more useful, since you can change printer and PowerPoint settings and get an immediate preview of the result.
So how do you put all this arcane information into practice? Here are a few examples.
Photos, cards, other small printouts
Here you're trying to reduce a full slide to a smaller-than-Letter/A4 sheet.
Start by setting a slide size that matches the paper you want to print on. This way, the sizes you see in PowerPoint (height, width, text point sizes etc.) will match what you get in print.
Design your slides, taking into account any unprintable margins your printer may have. Use the Preview button on the Print dialog box to test this without wasting paper. Be sure to choose the printer and page size you plan to use first to ensure that the preview is accurate.
When you're ready to print, choose your printer, then verify that the correct paper size and orientation is set. Remove the checkmark next to "Scale to fit paper", load your printer with the right size paper and print.
Posters and other oversize output
Here the appoach is similar, up to a point.
As long as you don't need sizes larger than 56 inch in either dimension, set the Slide size in Page Setup to match the desired printout size.
If the Slide size matches a defined page size in your printer's driver settings, choose the matching printer page size, then turn "Scale to fit paper" off and print. Otherwise, choose the next larger page size, leave "Scale to fit paper" off and print, then trim the excess paper from the printout.
If you need printouts larger than PowerPoint's 56" maximum slide size, set PowerPoint's Slide size to the largest size you can, proportional to the desired output size. Then you may have to do a bit of experimenting. Depending on your needs and the printer in use, either:
- Choose the desired paper size in the printer driver settings, turn "Scale to fit paper" ON and print, or
- Choose the desired paper size in the printer driver settings, set a scaling factor that will result in the PowerPoint slide size being scaled to the correct size on the printed output, turn "Scale to fit paper" OFF and print.