Microsoft Office 2007 and missing paper size options.

Today I solved a strange problem involving Microsoft Office 2007 and missing paper size options that should have been available to the user. This problem had been particularly difficult to fix simply because we had a hard time replicating it.

The Scenario

A user has access to multiple network printers to include a copy machine. The copy machine has a paper size that isn’t available or supported on the other printers, in this case it happens to be ledger paper “11 x 17″. The user opens a spreadsheet in Excel and prepares to print the document to ledger paper by first changing the paper size with Page Layout -> Size -> Ledger 11″ x 17″ from the ribbon bar.  Sometimes ledger size was available and sometimes it wasn’t even after selecting the  More Paper Sizes… option.

The Problem

The problem makes sense when you consider the assumptions Microsoft Office makes in an effort to increase usability by limiting the amount of information users have to deal with.  In this case Office is trying to show you only relevant options for paper sizes, but relevant to what? Relevant to the last used printer. Now the users, myself included, assumed that any paper size that could be printed on any of the available printers would be shown, but this isn’t the case.  Only paper sizes that can be printed on the current printer are shown.

The Fix

To find your missing paper size options you have to at least select the printer from a print dialog.  One way to do this is by clicking Office button -> Print , selecting the appropriate printer from the drop-down menu (a printer that can print to this size of paper), an the selecting the Close button. When you go back to the Page Layout -> Size your missing paper sizes will have returned.

… you know what they say about assumptions.