Excel “Margins do not fit page size”

I came across this error “Margins do not fit page size” when I installed a new Dell printer for a user at work. They called and told me that while they could print from most programs, they could not print an Excel worksheet that was working fine before the printer upgrade. They previously had a much older Dell laser printer.

While I immediately went through the traditional eye rolling and sigh in my mind, I went to take a look, expecting an easy fix. Turns out that no matter what I did to the formatting for the spreadsheet, it always gave the error “Margins do not fit page size” and if you did a print preview it said it was going to print hundreds of pages. Possibly one for each cell it seemed.

I did some research on the issue, having a hard time believing it was the new printer because my company had about 15 to 20 of these deployed already with no issue. It turns out that the new printer has an “XPS” driver, which stands for “XML Paper Specification” and is a file format designed by Microsoft. The XPS format contains a section that tells the printer information about the page size and margins which the printer uses to scale the document to fit on the paper.

It seems that at times the Excel file can become corrupted and you are then given this error. In my case, the user with the problem was a very adept Excel user and had made several spreadsheets that were shared with out of office employees using a much older version of Excel. They may have possibly been as old as Excel 2000 or 2002(XP). They sent back in the spreadsheet filled out and when the user went to print, they got this error instead.

Microsoft has a support article regarding this error, which states that if your printer uses the XPS driver, you may have this issue occur. The article states that the issue affects Excel 2003 and Excel 2007. It does not reference Excel 2010, which leads me to believe it does not affect Excel 2010 because normally Microsoft has articles updated to show affected versions of software with new versions that are not even out yet. In my case, the user had Excel 2007, and when I tested the problem on another computer, I could print the file ok on a different printer in both Excel 2010 and Excel 2007.

The fix in the article is to not use the “Fit to” option in page setup, but rather use the “Adjust to” option. When I tested that fix on the affected machine, the document became too large to fit on 1 sheet of paper as it did on machines without this printer. It seems that while some workarounds exist, it was easier to recreate the document than continue troubleshooting. The issue went away if the user had a different default printer that did not use the XPS driver. This was not suitable as a long term fix though, and the user re-created the file.

After a few more days had gone by, I came back to edit this post because the user in question tells me that the problem has now spread to more spreadsheets than before. While I am not sure there is any actual corruption to the Excel files since they print correctly with any non XPS printer driver, it seems that the issue is now affecting more spreadsheets that previously printed fine, even on this printer with this driver.

To resolve the issue for the user, I finally found a driver posted by Dell that installs an “XL” driver instead of the “XPS” driver that Windows 7 was installing automatically. Once I installed the driver and tested the printer with the Excel files in question, they were able to print without a problem.

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