Maximizing margins for two half size pages on one letter size paper, in Word and Excell?

Hello. I have created a few templates in 5.5 x 8.5 size, which I like because I tend to try to maximize the use of the space available. But When I try to print two pages on one letter sized page, rather than hand feed half size paper to the printer, I cannot get the same maximized size, in Word and Excel, but rather it automatically shrinks everything with a rather large margin on all sides.

Could someone tell me how to make Word and Excel print in the same maximized size, when printing two pages to a single letter size paper? I cannot find any controls to do it.

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Design it half-size from the start


Personally, I design the pages to be half-size from the start, side-by-side, then set the paper size to letter landscape. In word this is accomplished with a two column layout. In Excel you just use the cells to the right for the second page.

Printing two-pages-per-sheet does seem to result in huge margins, and I don't like them either.


Columns within columns?

Thanks for your comments. Many of my templates have columns, I wonder if columns within columns would be problematic, particularly because Word, in my experience, automatically adjusts at the wrong time the column width, really annoying sometimes.

Will check and see later.



Columns the way I'm talking about them is different from the columns you get when you insert a table in Word. I'm talking about columns like you find in a newspaper or in a tri-fold brochure. You can insert a table into a column (and you can also set a specific column width in your tables so they're not moving on you).

I believe the column settings are under the Format menu, whereas table column settings are found in 'table properties' under the Table menu.

Things can still get a little funky with a column layout if your row heights change--strategic use of the 'column break' (instead of hitting enter at the bottom of the page until the stuff moves to the next page) can help alleviate that wandering tendency.

In short:

  1. Open a blank document.
  2. Change the page setup to landscape and set your margins.
  3. Format/Columns and set the layout to 2 columns with a gutter width that's double what you used for your outer margins. You can have it insert a line in the middle so you know where to cut if you want.
  4. Finally, insert your stuff in the leftmost column.

Your stuff will automatically wrap to the right-hand column when it reaches the bottom of the page, and thence to the left column of the next landscaped page. You can insert a column break (similar to a page break) to divide stuff up where you want it. You can also insert tables within your columns and format them the way you want them.

Hopefully that helps.

Perfect - thanks for the step by step

I've been struggling with this forever - had resorted to printing 2 per page - thanks for outlining this - I'm going to try it. i especially like that you pointed out it can put a line down the middle so I know where to cut. The more basic, the better!

Go into Page Setup

I use Word for Classic size templates, too.

On the Page Setup Margins tab I check the box for 2 pages per sheet, and keep the margins at .5 or .3 inches.

On the Paper Size tab, I choose Letter, and Landscape Orientation.

I'm using Word 2000 so your version may differ, but I've found this setup very useful.

I can print this setup out onto letter size sheets of paper, or on another printer I feed half-size sheets through and print out a page at a time.

Word sees each half-size page as a separate page, and the sheet of paper, be it two pages to a sheet or one page to a sheet, is a separate concept. This was confusing to me when I started trying to make it work, but eventually it made sense.

I haven't tried to do this sort of thing with Excel so can't help you there. But maybe the same concept works out. I suspect that using the Page Break Preview would be useful.

And when I have a multi-page document, and reduce the zoom to 75%, I see two pages side-by-side, as they would print out on a letter-size page.

set as pdf then print

I have a button on my print screen that allows you to set it to pdf. I usually just set to pdf and then print when I'm doing to pages per sheet. I also frequently print directly to half-size paper...depends on what I'm printing.

Works in Word, Excel is more problematic

Thanks for the comments. Both shris and GC approach appear to work ok in Word, though shris's approach allows for better margin control. About the pdf suggestion, not sure how you would avoid shrinking and wide margins if the manipulation takes place in the pdf program.

Excel is very tricky business. I was going to post my progress with multiple failures, but I finally got one partiall success. I think if I keep experimenting I may get it right eventually. I am currently having two problems.

1-Everything is shrunken (this does not happen when simply printing single half sheets). I guess I can just compensate by reediting the whole template with larger fonts and settings, a bit annoying I guess, but doable.

2-In both Word and Excel, the margins of both half sheets are identical so that wide margins are place on the same sides. I discovered that it is possible to fake putting a wide margin on opposite sides, like in the center (I say fake because it seems not very exact) by altering the spacing of colums in Word, but in Excel I have not yet discovered the trick for this. Anyone knows how to do this?
The obvious intent is to be able to punch two pages per day/week/month or whatever, facing each other.

Excel is gradually becoming my favorite program for templates, because of better control of many table elements.

Ok, it is a no go in Excel

I have hit the same problem I hit before last time I tried to print two pages per sheet in Excel: I can maximize horizontal space in Excel, but not vertical space, the program insists on leaving huge margins, and they only show on the print, not on the preview (since preview never displays multiple pages per sheet). All the margin settings that I can find are set to 0.

I am using MS Office 2003, if that makes any difference.

Any suggestions?

I can achieve maximum use of space by printing directly to half sheets, but manual feeding on my printer is not always precise enough. I am trying to decide whether to buy a second paper tray for my cheap Brother Laser printer to deal with this, not sure it is worth it just for that, especially since I tend to print half sheets on both sides.



Minimum margins in MS Office are a function of the printer driver. Office does not care itself what the margins are, but the printer wants a certain size for its own capabilities. This tends NOT to be the same on all sides of the paper, though. Usually the leading edge will be the fat margin and the others can all be thinner.

Once your margins are set as small as the driver will allow, the remainder is a function of row height/column width. Excel will show you the edges of the page with dashed lines if you are using % scaling (100 or another fixed percent) but not if you're using 'fit to..'. Also on the print preview there's a way to turn on something that allows you to adjust the column widths on the preview itself. This allows you to see how much space remains on the page as you are adjusting.

In the page settings, there are also checkmarks on the margin page that ask whether to center horizontally or vertically..make sure this is set the way you want it..


True, but

True, but if I am able to achieve two pages per sheet with maximum space in Word, but not in Excel, then the problem would not be the printer, right? The huge margins I mean are about a little more than 3/4 of an inch, as measured with a measuring tape on the page itself.

I have seen and used the settings you mention. The problem is that apparently there is no 2 page per sheet preview, hence having to experiment by printing many times to see what it will actually look like. The preview shows only one page per sheet, fully maximized as I want it, but the printout is simply a proportional reduction of that onto two pages per sheet, hence the huge margins. Thisis my original reason for this topic.

Yah, so don't use that..


My original reply was to *not* use 2-per-sheet printing. If you redesign your forms such that they're on letter paper landscape and you have your layout side-by-side, you don't need special previews and you don't have massive margins. You have precise control over everything.


Yes, I know

Yes, I know, that's why I described your suggestion as giving more control than GC's.
I ran into difficulties trying your way, not insurmountable ones, just enough that I did not yet see how I could easily reuse it (meaning I would have to recreate a lot from scratch). I am trying to make designs I can easily recycle for different uses. I also tend to recycle other people's designs this way, if I find I can leave much of the complicated formating as is or tweak it easily.

Maybe when I get used to doing it your way it will not seem so complicated to recycle it.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I have a lot to work with at least.