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Issue #776: June 5-11, 2022

Q: When I try to print a PDF document from an outside source, such as a financial organization, it is expanded beyond use. I have gone into the PDF’s tools, but cannot find anything to reduce the print size. I have used the current snip-it program but it is a nuisance and produces a less-than-sharp result.

 – Doug B.
Niceville, Florida

A: Let me start by thanking you for being such a loyal reader and avid question submitter, Doug.  I did a quick check of my archives and found at least 20 submissions from you, going back as far as 2012.  Such questions are the fuel that powers this column, because without them, who knows what I’d be out here writing about?  So again, thanks for taking the time to write-in so many times, Doug.  For anyone else who might be holding on to a question or two, I’ve done my level best to make it easy for you to make a submission.  Start by visiting my website at (not .com) and click the link that says “Submit a question.”

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

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

In reading your question, I see two possible interpretations of your term “expanded beyond use”.  Either the document is zoomed-in to a level that it’s impractical to view it, or the creator of the PDF made a document that is wider and or taller than your screen, or, more likely, a single sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper.

I hope I can assume that when you’re viewing the document on the screen, things are okay, since it provides scroll bars that allow you to scroll up and down, back and forth in the viewport window.  You should be able to see the entire document, although not all at the same time.

Printing such a document is another matter, however there are a number of options available to you, depending on what you want to end up with.  Start in Reader’s menu bar, and click File->Print. The controls you will see depend on which version of Acrobat Reader you have installed.  If there are no controls for “Scale” on the dialog, look for a menu that says something like “Page Handling” or “Page Scaling”.  You should find choices like “Fit to Printable Area”, “Shink to Printable Area” that will force the document to print to a single page.  This might sound like what you want, but if the document is truly as large as you describe, the print might be impractically small on the printout.  You might get better results by using the poster or banner options, which will split the page across multiple sheets of paper.  You’re in control of the size of the original, and how to best fit it to as many sheets of paper as you want.  It’s up to you to put together the puzzle when you’re done printing.  I’m sure there’s some combination of scaling and page splitting that’s right for you.

One final note:  Because 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 might have more luck with scaling by using a different application to view the document.  Good luck!

One Response to “Issue #776: June 5-11, 2022”

  • GEORGEC22 says:

    Good morning. I too have had this same problem in recent months. So far it is only on documents from banks/credit unions.

    I have found that the easiest work around for me is to download the document to a file on my computer. When I do that it prints normal. Normal being whatever size print I have selected.


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