Poster printing

Printing PDF documents: tools, settings to try

Q: When I try to print a PDF document from an external source, such as a financial organization, it is expanded beyond use. I went to PDF tools, but couldn’t find anything to reduce the print size. I’ve used the current snip-it program, but it’s cumbersome and produces a less than clean result.

Doug B., Niceville

A: Let me start by thanking you for being such a loyal reader and an avid questioner, Doug. I did a quick check of my archives and found at least 20 submissions from you, dating all the way back to 2012. Questions like this are the fuel that powers this column, because without them who knows what I’d be on here to write? Again, thank you for taking the time to write so often, Doug.

For anyone who might have a question or two, I’ve done my best to make it easy for you. Start by visiting my website at (not .com) and click on the link that says “Submit a question”.

Now let’s talk about the PDF. As I mentioned in the previous columns, these letters stand for Portable Document Format, which means that it is a type of document intended to be used on several platforms (Windows, Mac, Unix, etc. .). It was originally a proprietary format developed by Adobe Systems, but more recently has become an open standard and is now maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The software associated with PDF files on a typical home PC is Adobe Acrobat Reader. You didn’t say that explicitly, Doug, but I’m guessing that’s what you’re using. Note that this is strictly a PDF viewer – it does not provide any ability to make changes to the document.

Reading your question, I see two possible interpretations of your term “extended beyond usage”. Either the document is enlarged to such an extent that it is impossible to view it, or the creator of the PDF created a document wider and/or taller than your screen, or, more likely, a single sheet of 8.5 by 11 -inch paper.

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I hope I can assume that when viewing the document on screen you are fine, as it provides scrollbars that allow you to scroll the window up and down and back and forth. You should be able to see the entire document, but not all at once.

Printing such a document is another matter. However, there are several options available to you, depending on what you want to achieve.

Start in the Reader menu bar and click File>Print. The controls you will see depend on the version of Acrobat Reader you have installed. If there are no commands for “Scale” in the dialog box, look for a menu that says something like “Page Management” or “Page Scaling.” You should find choices such as “Fit to printable area” or “Reduce to printable area” which will force the document to print on a single page.

It may look like what you want, but if the document is really as large as you describe it, the print may be too small on the printout. You may get better results using the poster or banner options, which will split the page across multiple sheets of paper. You control the size of the original and how best to fit it into as many sheets of paper as you want. It’s up to you to piece the puzzle together once the print is complete. I’m sure there is a combination of scaling and page splitting that works for you.

One final note: Since PDF is now an open standard, many software applications have been updated with the ability to open PDF files, including the Microsoft Office suite. You may have better luck with scaling by using another application to view the document. Good luck!

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