This article can help you get the print results that you want—from choosing what to print, to selecting from available print options for your documents, and then selecting a printer. The print options available to you depend on the printer and program that you're using.

Decide what to print

Before you send a print job to the printer, decide if you want to print some or all of the document or webpage. You might, for example, need to make a note of which pages to print or select part of a document before sending it to the printer. Here are common printing tasks to consider:

  • To print only part of a document or file, make a note of the page numbers for each page that you want to print.

  • To print part of a page or webpage only, select the content you want to print before printing.

  • To print a specific page, click any place on the page before choosing print options for the document. The page that you clicked becomes the current page and you can print it by selecting that option in the Print dialog box.

After you decide what to print, choose how the print copies should look, and then select a printer.

Choose how the print copy should look

To choose print options, you need to open the document, file, or picture that you want to print. Most print options are located in the Print dialog box, which you can access from the File menu in the program that you're using. The options that are available to you will depend on the program and the printer that you're using.

Picture of the Print dialog box in WordPad
The Print dialog box in WordPad

To access some options, you might need to click an "Options" or "Advanced Options" link, button, or tab within the Print dialog box. To find out more about print options for a program, refer to the information for the program.

Print options that are determined by your printer capabilities are called printing preferences, and can include double-sided printing, separator pages, color or image quality options, and staples. Like program options, printing preferences are displayed in the Print dialog box. Look for buttons labeled "Preferences" or "Properties." You can choose preferences each time you print a document or set default preferences to use for all documents that you send to a printer.

To set default printing preferences

  1. Open Printers by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Printers.

  2. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Printing Preferences.

  3. Select the preferences that you want to use by default the next time you print to the printer, and then click OK.

Use print preview

To see what the print copy will look like before you print it, open the document in a program that offers a print preview. Print preview is typically located on the File menu for a program. You should be able to preview each page of the document. In some programs, you can choose print options in the preview mode, and then print directly from the preview. In other programs, you might have to close the preview, change the document or your printer settings, and then print it.

Picture of a document in WordPad print preview
Print preview in WordPad

If you preview or print a document and it doesn't look the way you intended, you might need to edit the document or change your print options. For example, if only part of your document fits on the printed page, you might need to reduce the font size, decrease the margins, or change the page layout, and then try printing it again.

Print copies or print to a file

Once you know exactly what you are going to print, you can decide between printing copies or printing to a file.

Print a copy. If you purchased the printer, plugged it in to the computer, or installed it on a network, the odds are good that you already know which features the printer offers. You probably know, for example, if it prints in color or black ink, or both. You might know all the sheet sizes of paper that you can use in the printer, or if you can staple copies as they are printed. These are common printer features that can be easy to check by looking at the printer itself.

To see if other features such as watermarks, separator pages, and image control options such as resolution and light-dark contrast are available, you might need to refer to the information that came with the printer or contact the person who installed the printer on your computer or network.

If you've added more than one printer to the computer, your default printer is automatically selected when you want to print a document or file. Depending on the type of documents you print most often and how you prefer to print, you can select a printer each time or change your default printer. For more information, see Change your default printer.

Note

  • If you are printing personal or confidential information, you might want to select a printer that requires you to be present and to enter a password on the printer before the document can be printed. For information about security features on a printer, refer to the information that came with the printer.

Print to a file. Windows offers two additional printer drivers that are displayed as printers in Control Panel and in your programs. These printers allow you to print to a file instead of printing to paper. You can print to a file when you want to send, share, or publish a document, or when you want to print it using another computer or a commercial printer.

Printing to a file is useful when you want to send a print job to a commercial printer, control how a document will appear in print, online, or on another computer, or add security features to a document before sending it or sharing it with other people. For more information about the printers that come with Windows, see these topics:

Many print options depend on the printer. After you select one, you can choose more options for printing the document.

Frequently used print options

This table describes some frequently used print options. How each option is referred to can vary depending on the software publisher and the printer manufacturer.

Printing preference
Description

Double-sided printing

Also referred to as duplex or two-sided printing, this option allows you to print on both sides of the paper, regardless of paper orientation or source.

Orientation

Also referred to as the paper layout, this option allows you to position content on a vertical or horizontally placed sheet of paper, depending on how you intend it to be viewed.

Page range

You typically have four options for choosing the pages you want to print, including all pages in a document. To select individual pages or a sequence of pages, called a range, you can type the page numbers separated by commas or hyphens. For example, if you type 1,4,5-7, only pages 1 and 4, and then pages 5 through 7, will be printed.

The Selection option prints only text or graphics that you have already selected in a document. The option Current or Current page prints only the page that you are viewing when you choose to print the document.

Staples

If your printer can staple copies as they are printed, you can typically find the stapling option in the advanced printing preferences. You might also be able to choose staples as a default printing preference. To see how, refer to the information that came with the printer.

Paper size (sheet size)

In many cases, if your printer has more than one paper tray or if it can print on more than one size of paper using a single tray, you can select the paper size that you want to use.

After you choose the paper size but before you print, make sure that you load the correct sheets of paper in the printer tray, and then print the document. If you printer supports multiple paper trays, you might need to choose an output option or paper source.

Output or paper source

Also referred to as output destination or paper tray, this option allows you to choose paper from a specific tray in the printer on which you want to print. Many printers allow you store different sheet sizes, or different colors or types of paper, in individual trays.

For example, you might load sheets of paper with customized stationery, a letterhead, or a watermark in one tray and load unmarked paper sheets of the same size in another tray. When you want to print on stationery, for example, you can choose the paper source, or tray, containing that paper.