Summary

This article suggests ways in which you can diagnose and resolve issues when you cannot print a Microsoft Word document.

More Information

For more information about printing problems in Word, see How to troubleshoot printing problems in Word.


Examples of print failure are as follows:

  • You receive error messages and other messages when you try to print a file.

  • The printer does not respond.

  • Files print as meaningless symbols.

This article does not discuss printer output issues, such as envelope-positioning problems, missing graphics, and inaccurate page numbers.

NOTE: Before you continue, see the "References" section for known issues in Word that might match your printer's behavior. If you do not find a match for your error message or your printer's behavior, follow the steps in this article to troubleshoot your printing problem.

To resolve a print failure in Word, you must determine its cause. Causes typically fit into one of the following categories:

  • Damaged documents or damaged content in documents

  • The Word program itself

  • The printer driver

  • The Windows operating system

  • Connectivity or hardware

Don't make assumptions about what is causing your printing problem. Instead, rely on systematic troubleshooting to reveal the cause.

Use the following tests to help determine the cause of your printing failure.

Step 1: Test printing in other documents

Damaged documents or documents that contain damaged graphics or damaged fonts can cause print errors in Word. Before you reinstall drivers or software, test the Word program's ability to print.

To do this, follow the steps below that pertain to your version of Word.

Word 2013, Word 2010, and Word 2007

  1. Open a new blank document in Word.

  2. On the first line of the document, type "=rand(10)".

  3. Press Enter. This inserts 10 paragraphs of sample text.

  4. Try to print the document.

  5. If the document prints successfully, change to a different font, or insert clip art, a table, or a drawing object.

To change the font:

  1. Use your pointing device to select your sample text.

  2. Click Home.

  3. In the Font list, click to select a different font.

To insert clip art, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Insert tab, and then click Clip Art

    In Word 2013, click the Insert tab, and then click Online Pictures.

  2. On the Clip Art task pane, leave the Search text box blank, and then click Go. 

    In Word 2013, type a term in the Office.com Clip Art search field, and then click Search.

  3. Right-click one of the pictures, and then click Insert.

  4. Close the Clip Art task pane.

To insert a table, follow these steps:

  1. Click Insert > Table > Insert Table.

  2. Type the number of columns and rows that you want, and then click OK.

To insert a drawing object, follow these steps:

  1. Click Insert > Shapes.

  2. Double-click one of the shapes.

Test the print function again.

Word 2003

  1. Open a new blank document in Word.

  2. On the first line of the document, type "=rand(10)".

  3. Press Enter. This inserts 10 paragraphs of sample text.

  4. Try to print the document.

  5. If the document prints successfully, change to a different font, or insert clip art, a table, or a drawing object.

To change the font:

  1. Use your pointing device to select your sample text.

  2. Click Home.

  3. Click Format > Font.

  4. In the Font list, click to select a different font, and then click OK.
     

To insert clip art, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Insert tab, point to Picture, and then click Clip Art.

  2. On the Insert Clip Art task pane, leave the Search field empty, and then click Search.

  3. Right-click one of the pictures, and then click Insert.

  4. Close the Clip Art task pane.

To insert a table, follow these steps:

  1. Click Table > Insert > Table.

  2. Click OK.

To insert a drawing object, follow these steps:

  1. Click View > Toolbars > Drawing.

  2. On the Drawing toolbar, select one of the drawing shapes.

  3. Click anywhere in the document, drag the mouse pointer, and then release the button.


Test the print function again.
 

The success or failure of these tests shows whether Word can print generally. These tests may also give you clues about certain fonts or graphics that Word cannot print.

If you do not receive errors in the test document but still cannot print your original document, your original document may be damaged. This may be true even if you can print the same document on another computer, because there are many situations in which the symptoms of file damage appear on some computers and not on other computers.

Again, rely on systematic troubleshooting instead of on assumptions about what is causing the problem. Therefore, if you cannot print a particular document but can print other documents in Word, you may have a damaged document. Troubleshoot the problem accordingly. For more information about how to troubleshoot damaged Word documents, see How to troubleshoot damaged Word documents.

If Word cannot print at all, or if Word cannot print a certain font or a certain kind of graphic, go to "Step 2: Test Printing in Other Programs."

Step 2: Test printing in other programs

The scope of the printing problem may reveal its cause. For example, some printing problems affect only Word, whereas other printing problems affect several of or all Windows-based programs.

The following tests with the WordPad program can help determine whether this problem involves programs other than Word.

Test in WordPad

Begin by taking these steps:

  1. Click Start > Programs > Accessories > WordPad.

    In Windows 8: Press the Windows key to go to the Start, then type "WordPad", and then click the icon.

  2. In the WordPad document, type "This is a test".

  3. Click File > Print.

  4. Click OK or Print to print the file.

If, in Step 1, you found that the print problem occurs only with certain fonts or certain graphics images, try to reproduce this problem in WordPad. To do this, apply the same font, or insert the same kind of graphics image. (To select a different font in WordPad, use the same method that you use in Word.)



To insert a graphics image in WordPad, follow these steps:

  1. Click Insert > Object.

  2. Follow one or both of the following steps:

    1. To create a new graphics image, click Create New, and then select one of the object types from the list. For example, click Paintbrush Picture to create a test bitmap in the Microsoft Paint program.

    2. To insert a graphics image from a file, click Create from File, and then click Browse to select the file.

After you finish your testing in WordPad, you can test the print functions in your web browser or your other Office programs. You can also try to print a test page for your printer.

To print a test page, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start > Settings > Printers.

    In Windows 8: Press the Windows key to go to the Start, type "Printers", then click Settings > Devices and Printers.

    In Windows 7: Click Start > Devices and Printers.

    In Windows Vista: click Start > Printers.

    In Windows XP: click Start > Printers and Faxes.

  2. Right-click the icon for your printer, and then click Properties.

  3. On the General tab, click Print Test Page.

If you cannot print a test page, or if you cannot print in several or all Windows-based programs, you have a printer driver problem, a Windows problem, a hardware problem, or a connectivity problem.


If the problem is limited to a particular font, a damaged font file may be the cause. For more information about how to test and reinstall fonts, see How to install or remove a font in Windows.

If you can print without problems in all programs except Word, go to "Step 3: Test printing with different printer drivers" below

You may be able to use Windows printing help and troubleshooters to resolve the printing problem:

  • In Windows 8 and Windows 7: Run the printing troubleshooting wizard by clicking Start, type "printing", and then select Find and fix printing problems.

  • In Windows Vista or Windows XP: click Start > Help and Support, then search on "printing" or "printing troubleshoot".

Step 3: Test printing with different printer drivers

If Word is the only program on your computer that cannot print, you may think that Word is the cause of the problem. Be aware that Word is a very printer-intensive program. Therefore, a minor problem with the printer driver affects Word before it affects other programs.

To determine whether the printer driver is the cause of the problem, you can test different drivers. If the Word printing problem occurs only when you print documents that use a certain font or a certain kind of graphics image, try to print to another printer.

If no other printer is available, contact the manufacturer to determine whether there is an updated version of the driver or a different driver that works with your printer model. See the "References" section for information about how to contact a third-party vendor.

If the Word printing problem occurs even when you print documents that are made up only of text, you can use a generic, text-only printer driver to test printing from Word. To do this, follow these steps for your version of Windows.

NOTE: On some versions of Windows, these steps may require access to the Windows installation CD-ROM or access to a network drive that contains the Windows installation files.

Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista

  1. Take one of the following actions, as appropriate for your situation.

    For Windows Vista: Click Start > Printers.

    For Windows 7: Click Start > Devices and Printers.

  2. Click Add a printer.

  3. On the first screen of the Add Printer Wizard, click Add a local printer.

  4. Ensure that there is a check in the Use an existing port box.

  5. Change the drop-down option to File: (Print to file), and then click Next.

  6. In the Manufacturers list, click Generic, and then click Next.

  7. Leave the default printer name, click Next, and then click Finish.

  8. When the driver installation is complete, open a document in Word, and follow the steps that pertain to your version of Word:

    1. For Word 2007: Click the Microsoft Office button, and then click Print.

    2. For other versions: Click File > Print.

  9. Do the following, as appropriate for your situation:

    1. For Word 2010: Click the printer dropdown menu, and then click Print.

    2. For other versions: Check the Print to File box, and then click OK.

  10. Change the location to My Documents, and then name the file "Test.prn".

  11. Click OK.
     

Windows XP

  1. Click Start > Printers and Faxes.

  2. Click Add a printer.

  3. Click Next.

  4. Click Local printer attached to this computer, and ensure that there is no check in the Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer box

  5. Click Next.

  6. Click FILE for the port, and then click Next.

  7. In the Manufacturers list, click Generic, and then click Next.

  8. Click FILE for the port, and then click Next.

  9. Click Yes when you are prompted on whether Windows will use the printer as the default, and then click Next.

  10. Click No when you are prompted to print a test page, and then click Finish.

  11. When the driver installation is complete, open a document in Word, and then click File > Print.

  12. Change the location to My Documents, and then name the file "Test.prn".

  13. Click OK.
     

Windows 2000

  1. Click Start > Settings > Printers.

  2. Double-click the Add Printer icon.

  3. Click Next.

  4. Click Local printer, and then click Next.

  5. Click FILE for the port, and then click Next.

  6. In the Manufacturers list, click Generic.

  7. In the Printers list, click Generic/Text Only, and then click Next.

  8. Click Yes when you are prompted on whether Windows will use the printer as the default, and then click Next.

  9. Click Do not share this printer, and then click Next.

  10. Click No when you are prompted to print a test page, and then click Finish.

  11. When the driver installation is complete, open a document in Word, and then click Print.

  12. Change the location to My Documents, and then name the file "Test.prn".

  13. Click OK.

If you receive an error message in Word when you print files that contain only text but do not receive the error message when you print with the generic, text-only printer driver, your printer driver may be damaged. In this case, contact the manufacturer for help in removing the printer driver and installing an updated version. See the "References" section for information about how to contact a third-party vendor.

If the printing problem occurs with a different printer driver, go to "Step 4: Test the Word program files and settings" below.
 

Step 4: Test the Word program files and settings

After you verify that the printing problem is not limited to a particular document or to a particular printer driver, and that the problem is limited to the Word program, test the Word program by starting by using only the default settings.


For more information about how to start by using the default settings, see How to troubleshoot problems that occur when you start or use Word.

If the printing problem continues to occur, run Detect and Repair to reinstall the missing or damaged program files.

To run Detect and Repair, follow the steps below that pertain to your version of Word.
 

Word 2013 and Word 2010

  1. Exit all Office programs.

  2. Use one of the following procedures, depending on your version of Windows:

    1. In Windows 7 or Windows Vista: click Start, and then type "add or remove".

    2. In Windows XP or Windows Server 2003: click Start > Control Panel.

    3. In Windows 2000: click Start > Settings > Control Panel.

  3. Open Add or Remove Programs.

  4. Click Change or Remove Programs > Microsoft Office (or the version of Office or Word that you have in the Currently installed programs list)

  5. Click Change.

  6. Click Repair or Repair Word (Repair Office), and then click Continue or Next.

Word 2007

  1. Start Word 2007.

  2. Click the Microsoft Office button, and then click Word Options.

  3. Click Resources, click Diagnose, and then follow the prompts on the screen.

Word 2003

  1. Click Help > Detect and Repair.

  2. Click Start.

  3. Insert the Word CD-ROM or Office CD-ROM if you are prompted, and then click OK.

If the printing problem continues to occur after you repair the Word installation or the Office installation, then troubleshoot printing problems in the Windows operating system.
 

Step 5: Test for problems in Windows

To look for device drivers or memory-resident programs that might be interfering with the Word print function, start Windows in safe mode, and then test printing to a file in Word.

To start Windows in safe mode, follow the steps below that pertain to your version of Windows.

Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista

  1. Remove all floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs from your computer, and then restart your computer.

  2. Click Start, then click the arrow next to the Lock button, and then click Restart.

    NOTE: In Windows 8, click Settings in the Charms menu, then click Power, and then click Restart.

  3. Press and hold the F8 key as your computer restarts.

    NOTE: You have to press F8 before the Windows logo appears. If the Windows logo appears, you must try to restart your computer. To do this, wait until the Windows logon prompt appears, and then shut down and restart your computer.

  4. On the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to select the Safe Mode option, and then press Enter.

  5. Log on to your computer by using a user account that has administrative credentials.

Windows XP

NOTE: You must be logged on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to finish this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may also prevent you from completing this procedure.

WARNING: When you follow the steps in this article, you may disable the System Restore Service and may remove any previously created restore points.


For more information about how to use the System Restore utility to restore the computer to an earlier state, see Backup and Restore in Windows 10.

  1. Click Start, click Run, and then type "msconfig".

  2. Click OK.

  3. On the General tab, click Selective Startup, and then uncheck all of the check boxes.

    NOTE: You cannot uncheck the Use Original BOOT.INI box.

  4. Click OK, and then click Restart to restart your computer.

For more information about how to perform a clean restart in Windows XP, see How to configure Windows XP to start in a "clean boot" state.

Windows 2000

  1. Restart the computer, watch carefully, then press F8 when you receive the following message:

    On the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu, click Safe mode, and then press ENTER.

  2. After Windows starts in safe mode, start Word and then type some text in a new document.

  3. Click File> Print.

  4. In the Print popup window, check the Print to file check box, and then click OK.

  5. When the Print to file popup window appears, click My Documents for the location of the file, and then type "Test.prn".

  6. Click OK.

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