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Common Problems Printing a PDF File (and How to Fix Them)

written by: goaskdebbie•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 2/23/2011

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of PDF creation programs and scanners that create PDF files. Each of them can create PDFs in different formats and sizes. Here we provide instructions how to fix the most common problems in printing a PDF file.

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    Introduction

    NOTE: These tips assume your printer is printing all other documents correctly and the problem is directly linked to the PDF file and not to your specific printer.

    One of the most common PDF viewing and printing software programs available is Adobe Acrobat Reader. In the following instructions, I will concentrate on this software; however, most other PDF viewing and printing software programs will have similar steps and options.

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    Shrinking PDF

    The PDF is printing as an 8x14 size, but the person that sent it to me says the size is 8x11. This problem almost always keeps the document size as 8x11, but thinks the document needs to be printed on 8x14 paper.

    This is probably one of the most common problems printing a PDF file and may easily be corrected. The first thing to do is click on the "File" menu of your PDF software and select the "Print" option.

    HINT: Do not press the "Print" icon as this option will print the document as is, with any stretching or shrinking applied.

    In the "Print Dialogue" window, review the options within the "Page Scaling" section. Depending on the version of PDF viewing and printing software you are using, the options may be a bit different. Select the "Fit to Page" or "No Scaling" option, to correct any shrinking or stretching applied. If your version shows a screen shot of the document, you will be able to see any corrections made by choosing one of these options. If the image has been corrected, click on the "OK" button to print.

    HINT: If using Adobe Acrobat Reader, the scaling options in the drop down are "None," "Fit to Printer Margins," "Reduce to Printer Margins," and "Multiple Pages per Sheet." Use any of these options when troubleshooting printing problems.

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    Pages Rotated

    Having the pages rotated, could be due to a number of reasons; most likely the person used a scanner and the image was rotated by the scanning software, or it was placed in the scanner sideways.

    Click on the "File" menu of your PDF software and select the "Print" option.

    Uncheck the "Auto-Rotate and Center" option, just below the "Page Scaling" drop down.

    If your version does not have this option, click on the "Advanced" tab just below the printer name. In the "Advanced" dialogue window, uncheck the "Rotate Pages to Fit" option. Click on the "OK" button to adjust the document. If the version shows a preview and the document has been corrected, click on the "OK" button to print the document.

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    File is Cutoff

    Having a file cutoff, can often happen for the same reason above, in regard to page rotation; but there is another possibility.

    Once again, click on the "File" menu and select the "Print" option. In the "Print Dialogue" window, click on the "Advanced" button and uncheck the "Print as Image" option. Click on the "OK" button to save the changes and view the preview.

    HINT: If the "Print as Image" option was not selected, select it and continue. Often times, Acrobat Reader is trying to interpret the file and if it is interpreted incorrectly, the image can be cutoff.

    If the file corrects the portion that was cut off, click on the "OK" button to print the document.

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    Summary

    These are common problems printing PDF files and how to fix them. If all else fails, click on the "Printing Tips" button which will open the Adobe troubleshooting web page.