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How to Fix Formatting Problems When Printing

written by: Camesha White•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 6/3/2010

The first step when solving any problem is to identify the cause. Is this a software or hardware problem? Internal or external? It does not matter if you are printing labels, documents, business cards, or a PDF document, these suggestions can handle most formatting issues encountered when printing.

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    Use Print Preview. This is a helpful tool for minor issues. Performing a print preview allows you to view your document BEFORE printing, so you will have an idea as to how your document will look after printing.

    Screen Resolution. To make sure that your document isn’t fuzzy or blurry, adjust your screen resolution. Be sure to increase your resolution to make your image more sharp as decreasing it will only make matters worse.

    Update the printer driver. This is the common solution for documents printed with strange characters. This means the driver needed to communicate to the printer but it was the wrong one or needs to be updated. This is a common problem when upgrading operating systems. In most cases, you can download the correct driver from the printer manufacturer’s website.

    Know your colors. This simply means, make sure the color settings of your software or computer, matches the settings of your printer. Most printers use the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) setting, but some software uses the RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) color setting.

    Print a test page. This option is available with all printers. Simply printing a test page will show you important information concerning your printer and its output stats.

    Check your ink level. This is a common solution, but is often overlooked. Depending upon your printer, it can be your black cartridge, the color cartridge, or both. Or the cartridge could have simply become dislodged while changing the paper (this is only a concern with smaller printers).

    Incorrect file format. With desktop publishing programs such as Microsoft Publisher and QuarkXpress the problem can simply be because your image is the incorrect file format. Compatible file formats for these programs are TIFF’s and EPS’s, not JPEG’s.

    Adjust your margins. Printing off the page is a common problem associated with your margin settings. In most cases, this problem will be noticed before you print, as it will be visible on your screen and in visible in the Print Preview option.

    After performing these actions your printing problem should be solved. If you have a more serious issue, contact your manufacturer’s technical support.