I often get told by Word 2013 that, on trying to print, my margins are outside the printable area of the paper. Does this mean that the printer applies a 'margin' to the paper to which it cannot print, e.g. a cheap printer can only print within 2cm of the physical edges of a piece of A5 paper? So the margins I set in word must all be greater than or equal to 2cm. When I choose to Fix the margins, my margins are decreased to 2cm where necessary?

I am trying to replicate a document printed on slightly smaller than A5 paper, and print it on an A5 page size. I assume my margins of e.g. 0.6cm are outside of the printer's 'margin' for A%, say 0.8cm, and I get the complaint.

How could I remedy this? Physically centre the original document on a real A5 page and measure my Word margins from the edge of the A5?


All printers have a "printable area", how wide the margins to the true paper are depends on the make/model (and the paper size, obviously). Some printers are able to print right up to the paper border, but AFAIK that is rare. Printing on "larger than A5 paper" on a printer than handles up to A5 won't get you anything.

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    My situation was that I thought my paper size was A5. It looked so much so I didn't measure, but it was some mm smaller. So printing on A5 with modified margins (all carefully measured with a ruler) did solve the immediate problem for me. – ProfK Mar 1 '13 at 19:45

Most printers cannot print all the way to the edge of the paper, because of physical limitations in the way that the printer handles paper.

If you set your document margins or section margins closer to the edge of the paper than your printer is capable of printing, Microsoft Word returns an error message when you send your document to the printer. To avoid this, you are correct; you must set your margins to that equal or less than the maximum printable width.

You should be able to change the paper size of the document you are working with to A5 via the Page Layout tab > Page Setup. Word should adjust accordingly, then make any minor changes manually to make things fit.

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    So a practical way of producing a document that has margins outside of the printable area of the paper is to use a virtual larger paper size, then physically trim the printed documents to reduce the eventual real margin. – ProfK Mar 1 '13 at 19:15
  • Virtual size won't help with the physical limits of the printer. In commercial printing, however, they often achieve edge-to-edge printing by using a printer that has a larger actual printable area, and then trim the excess. – fixer1234 Dec 8 '14 at 1:13

The printable area is defined by the printer, usually is a space where the print head does not reach.

Document margins are usually inside this, where the word processor decides to insert carrage returns.

Usually you use the latter to allow for binding and use-wear.

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