Microsoft Word 2003/2007 Compressed/Overlapping text

This is a solution to a problem that was occuring infrequently for about 6 months in my office before someone asked me to find a solution.

The problem generally happens when a user prints a document. The problem is that the text bunches up on top of each other producing a completely illegible bunch of stacked characters. An example of the problem is below.

This obviously causes some issues when it comes to reading a document! Fortunately this is not a permanent change to the document and the solution is fairly straightforward (when you know how!).

The first thing you need to do is open word without a document open.

Once you have word open go to tools > options > print. In this tab uncheck “Background Printing”. and click ok.

Close word.

Open the offending document and the text should now look and print like normal!

The same problem can be solved in Word 2007 by checking the same option.

Office Button -> Word Options -> Advanced -> Print -> Print in Background

If you find this useful please feel free to leave a comment!


Tags: , , , , Posted by

51 Responses

  1. XViper says:

    Useful! Fixed the problem perfectly!

  2. Slava says:

    Thanks a lot! You helped me to solve the problem! Now the text prits the way it should print 🙂

  3. was doing some work and text randomly started overlapping when printing but I couldn’t view it in any view – very frustrating. Thanks to finding your link thru Google, my document is back to normal! WHEW! you saved me alot of extra work and headache! Thanks!!!!!!!!!
    Tho i do have to ask, how does a document randomly start overlapping text when you don’t mess with the Options settings at all….
    Thanks again!

  4. Kashif says:

    Thanks a lot, resolved my problem

  5. alice says:

    still didn’t solve the problem

  6. Tomislav says:

    Thanks a million – problem solved!

  7. Charice says:

    I’ve been searching thru Google for a solution to this problem and haven’t been able to find one. I checked the user’s system and the Printing in Background option is not checked under the Print tab. I had the user check it and close the document and reopen Word 2003 and uncheck it but still same result.

    Any other suggestions???


  8. Lucretia says:

    Brilliant thanks so much I have just solved my Boss’s problem and earned myself lots of Brownie points by looking like a genius.

  9. Saber Abdallah says:

    You can just use a format painter for any correct text.

  10. Islandb0yz says:

    I had the same problem the only thing that I did differently was changed the font from Time New Roman to a different font and that seemed to work.

  11. peterof63 says:

    Had the same problem in a very delicate situation: official exams per computer. Fixed it on the fly by changing the font as also mentioned by others. Will try the background printing option too.

  12. Nayna says:

    Fixed the problem back when we had Office 2003, and now that we have Office 2007 (and the problem started again), you fixed it again!


  13. Jose says:

    it didn’t help me. it still stayed the same! HELP!!!I use microsoft word 2003

  14. Kim says:

    Thank you x1000. I was panicking because MS Answers would take too long, this was simple and corrected my Word 2007 problem immediately. Now the doc I spent hours on, compiling days worth od research, is near submission; you are better than aspirin. Now if you can tell why my -shift quote- on my keyboard will not work that would be heavenly.

  15. David says:

    I am using Microsoft Word X for Mac and when I do not have a document open (or when I DO have a document open), the “Tools” window does not show the choices you offered.

  16. Sherry says:

    This is one of the many things I tried… but for me it was a corrupt printer driver. Once the print driver was downloaded the problem went away.

  17. jose says:

    I was wondering that the words like that when i’m typing what can i do to fix it?

  18. Adam says:

    Thanks a bunch! :DD

  19. Arden says:

    It worked! Thanks a lot!

  20. Elizabeth Greenwood says:

    I looked at a number of responses to this problem and yours is the only one I saw that solved it. Thanks a lot!

  21. Aamir says:

    this way does not work if your document is on a different page layout than the printing page. If our document is drafted on Letter size paper and we are printing it on A4 size paper, this problem will continue until we make the pages setting compatible.

  22. Kris says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  23. Erin says:

    Very helpful thank you Ben!!!!!!

  24. Chad says:

    I have user that uses XP SP3 + Office 2010. This problem only occurs when she prints a specific document. It replaces text on certain charaters, only on page three and mostly the (m’s).

  25. Sue Daniels says:

    Thank you, Ben! That worked great.

  26. joeytheg says:

    it worked! i couldn’t believe it! thanks.

    ps. your “example” shows up without the compression

  27. Andrea says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!! This solved a HUGE headache of mine!!!

  28. a says:

    OMG you just saved an entire morning’s work on a resume!

    I printed to adobe pdf and BAM lost all of the job description and line items to this problem!


  29. Hadiyah says:

    Thank you soo much!!! This problem in PowerPoint 2007 was just beginning to frustrate and pull me out of the zone : )

  30. Melinda says:

    You should include undoing the background saving feature as well. It didn’t work for me until I unchecked that box.

  31. lorn says:

    Thanks a lot worked wonders on word 2007

  32. Katherine says:

    Thank you so much!! Only solution that was stated clearly and that worked. All of the others were mentioning “Overtype mode” which was not my problem. Thanks again!

  33. Maria says:

    It worked thanks so much!

  34. Xina says:

    Thank you so much for this! I worked a treat!

  35. Sue Daniels says:

    I don’t know if this will help anybody, but I still have this problem from time to time, even when I uncheck “background” saving. I realized it’s usually when I use a very old document, like one from an early version of Word, while I’m running Word 2007. I copied all of the text from the old document, and then pasted it into a brand new Word 2007 document that I had formatted, then checked “Match destination formatting” on the smart tag. Same text, new document, and no compression. And I didn’t have to retype it!

  36. Dave says:

    Cool. Job done. Without people like you putting this sort of stuff on the internet I would be computer illiterate. But this way the people at work think i’m some sort of computer whizz – really im just good at googling and following instructions. Cheers!

  37. Cathy says:

    Unfortunately changing the background print did not help, but looking at the other comments did! I had to change the font type. Glad you have this site! Thank you.

  38. Maura says:

    Thank you!!! Worked like a charm!

  39. Barbara says:

    This worked in Word 2010 as well. Thanks!

  40. Tim says:

    Unchecking Print in Background did not work for my Word 2007, following one of the other comments changed font from Times New Roman to anything else worked. Another Microsoft mystery.

  41. Vaibhav says:

    Thanks a lot… It worked.

  42. Rob says:

    I could only solve this by either right-clicking all of the selected text and going to font, unchecking both the superscript and subscript fields, then in the ‘character spacing’ tab setting ‘spacing’ to normal and ‘by’ to zero.

    Or copying and pasting into another word processor like star office, then copying and pasting back into a word document. I prefer the first method. I remember when I needed to use subscript and superscript a few weeks ago. I don’t know why it’s still happening in new documents occasionally now though.

  43. Juliet says:

    This was perfect! I thought I was going bananas. I only started to encounter this problem when I loaded my Office software on my new PC with Windows 8. It must be a default setting. Many thanks!

  44. Jen Thomas says:

    If unchecking Background Printing doesn’t work, try File | Options | Advanced and, at the very bottom, click the Layout this document as if created in drop-down arrow and choose the current version of your Word application.

  45. wenxi says:

    Both remove be printing and choosing same version in the layout doesn’t work for me

  46. Gillian P. says:

    Thank you so very very much. You have just prevented me going into meltdown.

  47. Patricia says:

    Thanks very much. I’d been audio typing a document for over two hours and when the bunching happened I nearly cried. However, I’m so glad I found your answer. Thank you so much.

    🙂 very happy!

  48. Lisa says:

    THANK YOU BEN! I didn’t think I’d ever get my Word back to normal. Almost lost all of my work. Forever grateful.

  49. Meg says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!!! Just nearly lost 3000 words of my dissertation – you just saved my life!!

  50. Marissa says:

    Did not work : (

  51. dean says:

    Thanks, it did work!
    Happy 🙂

Leave a Reply