Problems printing images in word documents

We have heard from a number of organisations that they have experienced issues printing images in Word documents and there has also been discussions on the ILTA Communities. The scenario is that the document looks fine on screen and Print Preview, but when it prints, one or more images fail to print; sometimes text on the same page and an image (e.g. in a text box) doesn’t print. The problem is often apparently random because it doesn’t happen every time, or for every user, and the random nature of it makes it difficult to troubleshoot.

The problem seems to be limited to .docx file formats, and those containing PNG images. So if you need to print the document quickly, a couple of quick, but not particularly satisfactory workaround are:
• Convert the document to .doc file format
• Convert the document to PDF (I’d recommend using native Word save as/send to PDF rather than a third party product)
Longer term fixes include:
• A registry change (this solution provided by Microsystems):
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word\Options] “PrintMediumQualityDefault”=dword:00000001
[Note change the 14.0 to the appropriate number if you are not using Word 2010] • Print products such as Enable’s PrintPerfect which provides a print solution without a registry change.

When we came across this issue at Dentons, we spent time investigating the cause. Was it corrupt document, the .docx file format, Word not handling PNG files, print drivers or something else? Well, in our experience, the most likely cause is a third party add-in to Word. Don’t believe me? Try removing all add-ins and printing the document. If this works, it could also be quick workaround to print images.

Discovering the cause was a third party add-in was the easy part. Finding out which add-in or add-ins was far more difficult. The first challenge was trying to replicate the problem. Using a document that we knew sometimes printed incorrectly, we discovered that the problem was not quite as random as we initially thought. We identified opening the document in different ways provided different results. For example, with the application already running or not; opening from different applications and locations – Word, DMS, Local PC, Email attachment. Look out for Word running as a background process; that caught us out a few times. Eventually we were able to reproduce the printing error at will.

Once we were able to replicate consistently, we then went through the laborious exercise of identifying the add-in causing the issue. I won’t bore you with that process, but the culprit in our case was an add-in called WordOptimisingAddin. With that add-in turned off, our documents print correctly first time.
However, I’ve also spoken to people at other law firms who do not have this add-in or any other by the same vendor, and they are also experiencing the same issue. So , but they do not have this add-in or any others by the same vendor and, so there are other add-ins which also cause these printing issues.

If you have experienced the same problem and identified other add-ins which are causing the issue, please add these in the comments.

If you are a vendor and you are aware that your product is causing these issues, please help your customers by (1) informing them that your product causes these issues and (2) eliminating the issue in future versions of your product.