How to Get a Printer to Fill a Whole Page

By Elizabeth Mott

Full-bleed images can produce dramatic output effects.
i Jupiterimages/ Images

When you're printing business documents and client presentations, you may want to fill an entire page with content that outputs without obvious margins at the edges of your sheets of paper. Most desktop printing devices lack the ability to lay down ink or toner all the way to the full dimensions of the paper sizes they handle. To determine how close to the edge your hardware can print, check your user guide for output specifications. Although newer output devices make fuller use of the sheets they print than older hardware can, you may need to resort to some output trickery to achieve either the look of full-page printing or the real thing.

Zero Margins

To fill an output sheet with the contents of a document, start with a file that uses the smallest possible margins that your software allows. If you can set your margins all the way down to zero, you can come as close as possible to the edges of your sheet when you print. How and where you establish margins depends on the application you're using. Page-layout software enables you to set up these parameters when you create a new document and alter them later if your needs change. Word-processing applications use default settings that you can override with file-specific measurements. Read the documentation for your software to determine how it establishes margins.

Enlarged Printing

Some applications and some printer drivers enable you to enlarge the size at which you print a file without the need to scale the document content itself. If your file content floats in the middle of a page when you print it at actual size, prepare to print your document and check your software's Print or Page Setup dialog boxes for the options that enable you to print at larger than actual size. Depending on the type of file you're printing, enlarging it may distort its content, introducing pixelation or other artifacts. These concerns especially apply if you're printing a photo or other bitmapped graphics or a website page with low-resolution images.

Borderless Printing

Some photo printers support borderless output on specific types of paper, usually smaller than the largest sheet size the devices can handle. When you use these printers' borderless features, you can create output that's virtually indistinguishable from the prints you purchase from a photo finisher. Photo printers typically rely on inkjet or dye-sublimation output processes. Although dye-sub output emerges from the printer dry and ready to handle, borderless inkjet prints may require drying time, so handle them with care.

Larger Sheet Size

Commercially printed material that runs all the way to the edge of the sheet actually prints on paper that's larger than the finished size. The printing company uses a trimming device called a guillotine to cut out the final sheet size. To achieve the to-the-edge look, graphic designers use a technique called "bleed" to add material in their layouts that extends beyond the trimmed-edge dimensions. When this extra material trims away, the result looks like it's been printed exactly up to the sheet edge. To achieve this look on a desktop device, print a smaller page on a larger sheet and trim out the result. If your in-house output hardware can't handle the oversized paper you need to achieve your objectives, take your file to a quick-printing service for output on extra-large media.