If I set a document zoom to 100%, the displayed sheet of paper has a different size from the physical sheet.
What is the 100% I am seeing on screen?

(And is it possible to make the 100% zoom show the real paper size?)

  • July 4th: Four answers so far, some speaking something about 'DPI' but none of them explains how this makes the size difference and what a user can do to adjust their system to make 100% zoom show 100% size. Why would designers label one of zoom buttons '100%' if this cannot be achieved or at least additionally calibrated?
    – miroxlav
    Jul 4 '20 at 14:33

The 100% displayed size is relative to a typical monitor size that was used for reference. Depending on the settings selected, there can be a little slider box in the lower right corner to adust the view size, default being 100%; but on other screen sizes than the standard screen example that the 100% is based on, the view size won't be actual size when one measures it, and in fact often one won't be able to adjust the slider so that it exactly is. But, by using a ruler, or simply holding up a sheet of eg A4 paper to the screen, one can adjust the slider so that the view onscreen is fairly close to actual: which can be very useful for estimating font readability, margins, line spacing, etc. Its sort of like the slider size adjustments for rtf or paint file viewing.

  • 2
    +1 for the obvious empiricism. Check it against a real sheet of paper. Done ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 3 '20 at 7:17
  • @Tetsujin – no... I have done this many times :) But the problem is that if you find out that the actual size is 114%, you have to keep the zoom there... if you zoom freely in and out then you have to manually return to 114% in Zoom dialog box again and again. This denies the special button 100% and its label which was put there as an indication of real size. Empirical 114% = 100% looks like 'problem solved', but it is far from usable. If the built-in concept of 100% does not work, why it is there? Or: how to make it work properly on a specific computer?
    – miroxlav
    Jul 4 '20 at 14:22
  • The 100% reference point remains constant, so on machines having monitors other than the decided upon typical/standard dimensions, the 100% reference point will continue to be associated with whatever the actual onscreen size is for a particular monitor. Manually allowing for actual size difference when at the reference point may be tedious, but the size adjustment to yield true size remains consistent for a particular monitor. Some users use the program on fairly small screens,And some on more than one monitor at a time where the multiple monitors may be of more than one size.
    – M H
    Jul 4 '20 at 16:01
  • 1
    100% will be a pixel count, which takes no account of your screen's pixel density, nor in all probability any variance in your Windows' general screen 'zoom' setting. If you come out at 114% then that's what you need for wysiwyg. There's no way round that, other than changing your screen's apparent pixel density. Score minus one to Microsoft for making their desktop drawing system so arbitrary.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 4 '20 at 16:08

When you set the zoom to 100%, Word attempts to display the page exactly as the printed sheet would be.

You can see this take effect if you change to a different paper size. You can also see the measurements Word is applying if you display the ruler.

enter image description here

In practice, owing to the vagaries of printer drivers and monitor/display drivers, the displayed page size is approximate, but other than slight discrepancies of this kind, 100% means "actual size as it will be when printed".

  • Honestly I do not understand this answer. Physical measurements are in no way close to 100% zoom, the size difference is about 15%. And therefore also the sentence 100% means "actual size as it will be when printed". makes no sense to me.
    – miroxlav
    Jul 2 '20 at 23:21
  • If you're experiencing something different from this, maybe you can add screenshots to your question to let folks know what it is you're seeing?
    – Reg Edit
    Jul 2 '20 at 23:40

The size you see on your monitor depends on DPI.

As Windows isn't aware of DPI it can't consider it, so neither any software has the chance to display "real size"

The most you can do is to adjust zoom to fit real size - as already suggested in previous answers.

  • You wrote: As Windows isn't aware of DPI... – and this was the second part of the question in the last paragraph. Can be word or Windows 'calibrated', i.e. made aware of DPI (by monitor drivers or other settings) so it can get sense of what 100% has to be? Therefore if I simply press 100% zoom button on the ribbon, I would get what the button says... 1:1 display. Having 100% zoom without possibility of calibration may look like an unfinished design of the product.
    – miroxlav
    Jul 4 '20 at 14:27
  • You might play around with custom scaling at OS level, although I'm not sure it'll be perfect (windowscentral.com/…). Jul 4 '20 at 14:43

The size of Word display on our computer depends on many factors, such as resolution. If we set the resolution to 128*1024, the page will be about the same size as A4 paper.

When the display scale is set to 100%, the higher screen resolution, the smaller page shown.

The actual print size is rendered according to the size defined by the paper.

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