How to Scale a Word Document to a Different Paper Size

By Aaron Parson

Printing a Microsoft Word 2013 or 2010 document onto a piece of paper smaller than the document's original size results in truncated lines and missing content. Word has two options to work around the problem: You can scale the document while printing, which takes almost no effort but can cause small, illegible text, or you can change the page size of the document, which won't affect the font size. If you change the page size, however, you might need to fix the formatting of your page breaks, images and charts.

Scale a Printout

To change the scale of a Word document without adjusting its formatting, open the "File" menu, click "Print" and open the zoom option, which by default reads "1 Page Per Sheet." Choose "Scale to Paper Size" and pick a new size. Scaling works best when you need to change the size only slightly and don't want to alter the layout. If you decrease the size too much, the result is text that is too small to read. Scaling takes place during the printing process, so the option won't alter your original document or change its display on the screen.

Alter the Page Size

If scaling your printout causes illegible text, change the document's page size instead. This method retains the same size text by shifting lines down the page rather than changing the font size. Unlike scaling, however, changing the page size does affect the document on-screen and can cause layout and formatting issues. To change the size, open the "Page Layout" tab, click "Size" and pick a paper size or choose "More Paper Sizes" to enter custom dimensions. After you print your document, you might want to quit without saving to avoid altering your original file.

Fix Text Formatting

When you resize a document, the text flows between pages automatically. Hard page or section breaks might end up on shorter pages, causing unwanted blank space. Go through your file and delete any extraneous breaks, reinserting them when necessary for the new pagination. If you have a table of contents, it might run off the edge of the page or have outdated numbers. Click a broken table of contents and choose "Update Table" on the References tab. Pick "Update Entire Table" to fix both the numbers and the table's size. Unlike tables, footnotes don't have any trouble with resizing: The notes automatically move to the correct pages.

Fix Image and Chart Formatting

Images using the default "In Line with Text" alignment usually remain properly aligned after changing the page size, but those with "Tight" or other alignments can end up on the wrong side of text. Any images larger than the new page size are cut off. Select a cutoff image and drag its corners inward to shrink the picture until it fits on the page. Drag misaligned images on the page to move them back into place. Unlike images, charts won't fall off the side of the page, but the cells might narrow, making text inside fit poorly. As a workaround, decrease the font size in the chart or split the chart into two parts in order to have fewer columns on each row.