MS Word: Why pagination dependent on which computer I use?

I have a document written in MS Word. Like all of our work documents, it’s stored in a public folder on our office’s server (e.g. not on my desktop’s hard drive). Among the comments we received from the client on a draft of the document was that we had a couple of table headings that weren’t on the same page as the table. In other words, there would be a table heading at the bottom of the page, with the table following at the top of the next page. This was weird to me because I’d checked for these types of obvious errors before I sent the document out, but sure enough, in the pdf version, it was just like they’d said.

So, I pulled up the MS Word version to make these corrections, and… the tables appeared in the middle of the page, with headings at the top, as intended. When I made another pdf, though, the problems reappeared in the new pdf. I started looking at where the page breaks fell, and sure enough, from the second page onward, the page breaks fell at different locations in the pdf version than they did in the MS Word version from which the pdf was created. I then asked our receptionist to try to make a pdf of the document on her computer, but when she pulled up the MS Word version, there were the table headings at the bottom of the page. It looks like Acrobat on my computer was seeing the MS Word document as her computer was and making the pdf accordingly. She had, of course, gone to the same public folder to pull up the same file I’d been working with, so it wasn’t a case of different files.

So… same MS Word file, different pagination, depending on which computer it’s brought up on. This feels frustratingly 1993 to me. Anyone have any idea what gives?

Is the currently selected printer the same on both machines?

That was my guess; different default printers (printer drivers) with different printer settings, printable areas, etc. Especially - what version of printer driver are you using to create PDF’s?

Hmmm… well, the receptionist’s computer does, in fact, default to a different printer than mine. (She has a small printer on her desktop, but most of the office, including me, uses the one main big-ass printer/copier/scanner/satellite receiver/transmogrifier/time machine in the work room.) So there’s that. But, I just pulled up the MS Word document on a couple of other computers that default to the same one I do, and it looks the same on theirs as it does on the receptionist’s. This seems to be some sort of issue with this particular document and my particular computer. I produce documents on my own computer all the time without this being an issue.

ETA: Not sure on the printer driver issue. Our printer stuff is handled by an outside firm. I may be able to find it somewhere on my computer or on our network if someone can point me toward where it might be. It’s also possible that it might be stored with a bunch of program files that are wisely kept inaccessible to riffraff such as myself.

Have you checked on if MS Word is the same version on your computer?

This isn’t a solution to the root problem but is a workaround and a good practice in Word anyway. Your table captions should all have the same style, and that style should include the paragraph attribute “Keep With Next.” That will prevent a table from flowing onto the page after a caption.

Also I would expect the process of generating the PDF to be indifferent as to the selected printer. What version of Word are you using, and how do you generate the PDF?

Re: MS Word- This initially seemed to offer a possibility. We all use MS Word 2003, but on the receptionist’s computer, the About MS Word selection under Help says her computer is using MS Word 2003 (11.6568.8117) SP 2, while mine says MS Word 2003 (11.8328.8333) SP 3. Not that I know what any of that stuff after “MS Word 2003” means, but at least it looked like a difference. Unfortunately, a couple of other computers around the office that I checked had the same sequence as mine but still showed the document in the same way that the receptionist’s computer (and, it seems, everyone else’s) and Acrobat did. So, no help there.

I generated the pdf through the Print window, selecting Adobe PDF as the printer.

ETA: I’ll check into the “Keep With Next” option. I expect our receptionist knows about it, but it’s a new one to me. Sounds useful.

It’s a known issue with Microsoft Word (and indeed, with most other word processors) that documents can be rendered subtly (or even drastically) differently when viewed with another copy of Word, owing to differing versions, printer drivers, system fonts, the phase of the moon, etc. If it’s vitally important for you that your documents maintain consistent formatting no matter where they are viewed or edited, your only solution is to use a typesetter instead of a word processor.

SP x is a service pack, a bundle of updates to the product that generally resolve bugs, security issues, or other problems. The numbers in parens are probably build numbers of some sort, but I don’t know what they mean here. Software organizations have a unique identifier every time they use the current baseline of their code to build a version of the product, so this is probably an identifier that tells exactly what build was used for that release. I could be wrong about that in this case; it could be a lot number for physical shipments or something. In either case, the differences between the two should be somewhere between zero and undetectable, except for the SP. You may want to consider updating her computer to SP 3.

Word 2007 has native ability to generate PDF files, no Acrobat needed, but you’re at 2003 so that’s a moot point. However, if the doc looks OK to you and the PDF that you generated is not OK, then there could be some issue with Acrobat and this particular document. You might try a free product called CutePDF that installs a driver that looks like a printer to any application, similar to how you selected Adobe PDF as a printer. It’s not as powerful as Acrobat but it is way, way faster and gives very good results IME.

This has not been my experience (Word user for over 20 years) but I can’t say it doesn’t happen. The author of the linked page…oh, hey it’s you…looks like he really has bone to pick with Microsoft though :slight_smile:

Pagination issues with Word are almost always caused by different fonts in the document from those available for rendering on the computer. If Word cannot match a font exactly, it begins searching through the loaded fonts to find one that it (Windows, actually) considers similar. The problem is that similar is usually significantly different.

This can be made even worse when using different templates.

A more detailed description is here.

Hmmm, the font substitution thing seems like it could at least theoretically be to blame, too. I don’t think there are any unusual fonts- as near as I can tell, the text (including tables and their headings) is all Times New Roman, while there’s Arial in the footer. Everyone’s computer certainly has those. But, there are different font sizes here and there, so who knows.

I am, not without a certain amount of frustration, admitting defeat, at least in terms of fixing the problem so it doesn’t happen again. Our document has to go back out, so I’m just having the receptionist pull it up on her computer, make sure there aren’t any pagination issues when she views it, and print it. A workaround instead of a solution isn’t what I really wanted, but it’s what I’m left with.

Thanks to all for the responses- each was worthwhile and educational. I sure do appreciate everyone taking some time and effort to help.