MS Word Question:

In a few days, I'll need to print out the final, camera-ready version of my 1000+ page First Amendment and Related Statutes casebook (the second edition). Unfortunately, I'm running into two glitches with Microsoft:

  1. Some first lines of paragraphs are being printed half a line above where they should be, so they partly overprint the last line of the preceding paragraph.

  2. Some last lines of pages are being partly duplicated as the first line of the next page.

The problems are never consistent -- it doesn't repeat when I reprint the page. But it does tend to happen on several pages in every thousand.

Does anyone know a way of avoiding this problem, other than switching away from MS Word? If you do, please post the solution as a comment, or e-mail it to me at volokh at Thanks!

Anonymous Law Student:
Prof. Volokh- have you tried switching printers? Usually when garbage comes out on a page, or there's misalignment like that, it's something wacky in the printer driver, or the cable, or the memory.
5.3.2005 3:16am
dafydd (mail):

Did you create the entire work as a single file? If so, it may be so large that MSW is having difficulty getting the pagination right. Splitting the file, say at chapter breaks, might help reduce the problem.
5.3.2005 3:27am
yet another law student:
If you continue to have troubles with word, perhaps a better solution might be to convert the document via Word2Tex to LaTeX. I wouldn't be surprised if you aren't already aware of LaTeX, but in case you are not LaTeX is a very powerful publishing language that gives you precise control over how documents are to appear when printed.
5.3.2005 3:56am
goetter (mail):
I second A.L.S. Printer driver problem. Use either a different printer or else a different driver (is a more recent available?) for the same printer.
5.3.2005 6:42am
ed in texas (mail):
Before you print, use the print preview function. You can zoom and pan thru the doc to examine alignments. If the misaligned text shows up in print preview, it's in the FORMAT menu, probably the paragraph control. If it doesn't show up in print preview, then it's your printer driver. Your options there are (1) get and install new driver; (2) disk and go to Kinko's; or(3) print as a pdf (assuming you can) and then print the pdf directly, if you follow.
5.3.2005 9:04am
Dave! (mail) (www):
1. It does definitely sound like a printer driver problem. Double check to make sure you're using the most recent driver for your printer.

2. Try print previewing, as Ed suggested, or if you have Acrobat, try printing to a PDF and see if you have the same problem; if you do, it's not the driver but could be another problem in Word.

3. It could be related to pagination; or it could be related to line height or your paragraph style. I'd look at the printer drivers first, but if that fails double check the formatting styles.

4. Your publisher makes *you* print out camera ready copy of your own book?!! Even in the grist mill that is tech publishing they don't make us do that! Wow...
5.3.2005 9:29am
Some Jarhead:
I've seen this happen before...

I would strongly advise that you take one of two actions:

1) Print-to-file or, preferably, do a digital conversion (i.e., print to .pdf - my personal favorite, but only because of my level of experience with Adobe publishing software);

2) Send it to your publisher to do the same.

Camera ready? Let me guess; they want you to:
-Start with a digital document (word),
-Print it to analog (hard copy),
-Deliver it to your printer who will then digitize it (for sizing and compatibility),
-And then print it to analog (negative printer),
-So that it can be converted to press plates...

I once ran a newspaper that did this (before I came alone). It gave a whole new meaning to "cut and paste."
5.3.2005 10:01am
pgepps (www):
It doesn't need to be printer driver to give you that result. If you had a printer driver or printer problem that was doing this, it'd probably show up long before this particular extreme case. It is *likely* as someone suggested, the file's too long for Word to handle reliably (and I can't guarantee other software would be better, either, at that length).

Print Preview won't help. This sort of problem can be reproduced in much smaller files in Print Preview--Microsoft products aren't worth jack when it comes to matching screen to printer. Just forget that idea.

You're going to want to do some or all of the following, though each were mentioned above:

1) Cut the file into smaller chunks. This only makes sense. Huge files like that aren't reliably handled by desktop software; they *should* be, sure, but . . . you're proving right now that they aren't.

2) Print to file. That could be, as suggested, .pdf format (which can then be printed); or Microsoft Imaging format (.mdi, use "Windows Imaging Printer"). That can be examined carefully, and then the images can be printed to the page directly from their respective programs (Microsoft Document Imaging, Adobe Acrobat/Reader, or others).

3) *Maybe* switch printers. It is possible that the particular reason your particular document is giving Word issues will happen to go away in a new printer setup or something. Similarly, uninstalling/reinstalling printer drivers *might* jink something loose. This is very doubtful, though, and falls into the "hit the TV set" category of solutions; if it works, it isn't because it *should* have worked, only because an artefact of both the original process and your interference happened to align right.

Hope you can get it solved. These are real pain-in-the-neck problems, and they consistently appear at the worst possible stage.

5.3.2005 11:00am
Pete Guither (mail) (www):
I agree with a number of posters here. While I've never worked with a document quite that large, I've run into numerous printing errors in a variety of software. Each time, I've been able to solve it by printing to file (pdf) and then printing from Acrobat.
5.3.2005 11:07am
Tom Goldstein (mail) (www):
Eugene - this is a MS Word bug with the hyphenation feature. We run into it regularly when printing specially formatted S. Ct. briefs. It won't happen if you turn off hyphenation, but that's obviously not a solution. I've never fixed it myself, but I'm looking online and will let you know if I find anything. -Tom
5.3.2005 11:30am
Tom Goldstein (mail) (www):
Following up - I haven't found a permanent solution, but I did see that you can prevent particular words from hyphenating by flagging them as being in a foreign language. You could try that on each page that has the problem. It's a huge pain, I know.
5.3.2005 11:45am
Doug Sundseth (mail):
I doubt that the following relates to your problem (Tom Goldstein seems to have that figured out), but in case anyone else having problems with long Word docs reads this:

Never, under any circumstance, use the Word Master Document "feature". It has never worked and can irredeemably corrupt the sub-document files at random. Extensive references available upon request.
5.3.2005 1:04pm
W J J Hoge (mail):
Here are some possible approaches:

1. Convert the file to PDF with Adobe Acrobat and print the PDF file.

2. Split the file in to shorter chunks, eg., by chapters, and try printing the shorter files.

3. Find a Macintosh with MS Word installed and try printing from it. Also, since PDF is the native print format for Mac OS X, you should try to print your Adobe file via a Mac.

4. You can use a Mac to print the Word document to a PDF file (instead of using Acrobat) for the conversion. Try to print that file via your PC.
5.3.2005 1:37pm
Sigivald (mail):
If you're doing Camera-Ready, that's Desktop Publishing, not Word Processing, like Jarhead said.

MS Word is a lousy DTP app; I suggest real DTP software if they're going to make you do your own camera-ready output (speaking of which, what world do they live in where they're not doing digital direct to press for a thousand page book?). I haven't kept real current, but InDesign and FrameMaker are both well thought of, as well as Quark XPress. I think PageMaker died after Adobe bought Aldus.
5.3.2005 1:48pm
Stephen Lindholm (www):
Definitely export to PDF first - it's the only way you'll be able to reprint pages. Then print. Also, I'm shocked that the publisher wants hardcopy to make the printing plates. If they would accept PDF (pretty likely), you could just give them that file, exactly duplicating the printouts.

Because Mr. Goldstein has identified the bug in question, I would highly suggest using Mac Word (latest version is 2004) which is based on a completely different source code base and has a completely different set of bugs.
5.3.2005 1:58pm
Jason W. (mail):
Prof. V.,

If you don't go the PDF route (see for a free print-to-pdf driver that does a good job (you have to see a pop-up ad unless you pay a $9.95 licensing fee, though)), try printing a limited number of pages of the MS Word file at a time. For example, in the Print dialog box, under "Page Range," enter "1-50" in the "Pages" option, then do 51-100, etc. Sometimes a large file going to the printer all at once overwhelms the printer's memory and the back-and-forth between the print spooler and the printer causes weird stuff to happen.
5.3.2005 2:35pm
Jim Cameron (mail):
Sell PC, buy Mac
5.3.2005 5:45pm
Visit for Word / Office updates. Microsoft has a tool that will let you know whether updates are available for products installed on your computer.

Service Pack 1 for Office 2003 was released on July 27, 2004.
5.3.2005 6:01pm
To all the commentors steering EV toward the Mac, as much as I love my iBook, Word for the Mac is no whiz at handling large files. As an author of a recent legal text, I can say that _nothing_ was more frustrating than trying to work around Word's glitches.

There is a reason that law firms resisted moving to Word (on any platform) for so long. It just cannot handle long, extensively formatted documents.

5.3.2005 6:19pm
I've had similar issues with Word. We had a series of similar pages written by different people, and all had to use the same printer driver to get consistent formatting. And there was a bug in that driver that messed up the official format on all the pages!

I've had to use FrameMaker to edit *large* complexly formatted documents with 10 editors before me. Not recommended. But, at least, with FrameMaker I was able to output the source code (*.mif), debug the problem (footnotes from table entries ported across Framemaker versions), fix the code, and get pretty output short of retyping the whole thing.

I wish I could use Latex, but the team is committed to WYSIWYG editors. Even though you *don't* get what you see, in practice, in large complex docs.
5.3.2005 7:51pm
Tell us if anything worked!
5.5.2005 4:25pm
Tell us if anything worked!
5.5.2005 4:25pm