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I am documenting some software in MS Word. I want white text on black background when viewing on the computer (it saves eyes and power), but I want black text on white background to save ink in case people print. Is this possible?

I don't know if this helps but I will likely be saving as PDF. Currently, I have a dark background with "Automatic" font color. Shame there's no way of defining the background to be clever like the font color.

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migrated from Oct 27 '11 at 15:58

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You could use HTML instead of word documents.

Not only is it a standard and easily viewed, but you can actually define different stylesheet for screen and printer.

Depending on your needs, you can knit the markup by hand or customize TinyMCE for your needs.
Or, as is quite common, you could use a wiki system to write your documentation, which would also give you all the features of a wiki (versioning, linking, searching, tagging etc.).

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On the ribbon go to "Page Layout" and then "Page Color" - select black Then on the font styles you are using, change the color to white. There's probably a way you can set this up as a default template if you want it for every document. Not sure if it will try to print it this way or not. It's not too hard to switch it all back before you print though. (revert the page background, and select all; change font color)

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But these setting not only affect your reading but also how you store and print the document. – skan Mar 20 at 18:51

For Word 2013, the easiest method that I know of is:

  1. Choose Design on the Ribbon
  2. On the far right end of the Ribbon, select Page Color. If you don't see it, you may need to expand the Ribbon to show all commands.
  3. Choose your desired page color. If you choose black, Word will automatically display your text in white.

To make the color settings persistent, click Set As Default just to the left of the Page Color button.

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Does this answer the specific question for "but print the inverse"? (In other words: does Word still print using a white background, and then automatically select black for the text?) – Arjan Sep 17 '14 at 20:45

Used to be you could activate a mode that gave you white text on a dark blue background, like in the DOS days. It affected only the viewing of the document; it still printed as expected. But they took that out in Office 2007, sorry.

You could in theory write a macro that changed the colors around when printing, and changed them back afterward, and then attach it to the Word document. A lot of work for little gain, though.

FYI, it takes less power to display a white screen on a modern LCD, so if that's your concern, leave it the way it is.

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cool, thanks for the info. – Kohan Oct 28 '11 at 8:24
I have a Dell U2412M monitor and a power meter. It draws significantly less power when then the screen is mostly black than white. – Sin Jeong-hun Jan 8 '15 at 2:42
@SinJeong-hun I am kind of late for this but that's because it uses a LED light source. They will actually turn the light source off when the monitor is showing black only, so now black takes less power. Before with the old flourescent light it used more on black because to close the light-"gates" (there are 3 for every pixel; red green blue) you have to apply current to them continously. Retracting current makes the gates open up and let light through. So now they just leave the gates open and turn off the LED behind it. Try with grays! – sinni800 Nov 27 '15 at 7:08

Keep your document settings for onscreen viewing as you have chosen (black background, “automatic” text color). In Word 2010, go to the File tab; select Options; select Display; go to Printing options and UNCHECK the box that says “Print background colors and images.” This will PRINT your document with black text on a white background.

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You could use a different windows theme while editing your word/excel documents.

There is a inverted contrast accessibility theme that will do just that.

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I had hoped i could do somethign specific to the word document. – Kohan Oct 27 '11 at 16:12

You can do this if you use Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

  1. Go to Control Panel > Personal display setting > Change theme
  2. Then you scroll down until you see high contrast black.
  3. Select it

Now everything will go black.

This is useful if you work at night and sleep in day time. Or if you work in a dark environment to save energy or what-so-ever.

This works in any Windows apps if you have Vista, 7 or 8.

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Yo! Does it print the inverse? – Carl B Nov 30 '13 at 18:18
I imagine it would, as it's just a "display theme" getting set. On a completely unrelated note, there's a program called "f.lux" that makes working at night much easier on the eyes. – Kohan Dec 2 '13 at 10:22
It only changes de borders and menús but not the page nor the content. – skan Mar 20 at 18:52

I found a way around this. I create my text documents on Google Drive first (that could be any online resource) while using the Hacker Vision extension which inverts the screen colors to protect your eyesight. Then you can copy it to Word and do the final arrangement :)

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Simple just save it as an .html file, open it in firefox then use a plugin that inverts web pages. For example .

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That's a pretty roundabout way, not sure the user would want to use a browser AND a browser plugin for viewing a word document he has to save in html first. – private_meta Jun 13 '14 at 6:54

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