HOWTO: Set Duplex Printing for Word Automation

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Microsoft Word for Windows does not provide a method for Automation clients to set the duplex print flag before starting a print job. Although there is a parameter in the PrintOut method that indicates support for duplex printing, the parameter does not provide true duplex printing and may not be available depending on your operating system or installed language. However, developers can work around this limitation on Windows systems by changing the duplex flag for the active printer driver before calling Word's PrintOut function.

This article demonstrates how to use the Windows API to change the duplex setting of the active printer and allow a Word document to be printed in duplex.


This code uses the DocumentProperties API to change the print settings of the printer driver to enable duplex printing. For this code to work successfully, the end user will need adequate permissions to change the global print settings for the printer. If a user does not have the proper permission to change driver settings, they will get an Access Denied error on the OpenPrinter API call.

For users of Microsoft Windows NT and Microsoft Windows 2000 who need to print to a shared network printer, this can be a problem because the print driver does not reside on the local machine but on the print server. Although it is possible for an administrator to configure the print server to give end users the proper permission to change global settings, it is NOT desirable to do so in most cases. To work around this problem, it is possible to install a local print driver for the network printer, and let each user control the settings for their local systems.

Steps to Add Local Print Driver for Network Printer on Windows NT and Windows 2000

  1. One the Start menu, select Settings, then select Printers and double-click Add Printer to bring up the Add Printer wizard.
  2. When prompted, select printer from "My Computer" and NOT from the network. Although you will connect to a network printer, you want to use a driver on My Computer. Press Next to continue.
  3. Click on "Add Port."
  4. Select Local Port in the drop-down list box and then click New Port.
  5. Type the location of the printer on the network. For example:
        \\printserver\printername (using the exact path name to the printer)
  6. Select OK and continue with the rest of the setup.
Changing the printer properties for the active printer will affect all applications that use that printer, and not just Word. If you plan on changing the setting for a particular print job, make sure you restore the setting when the job is complete.

Steps to Build the Sample

  1. Open Visual Basic and create a new project. Form1 is created by default.
  2. Add a standard BAS module to the project and add the following code to the module's code window:
     Option Explicit
       Public Type PRINTER_DEFAULTS
           pDatatype As Long
           pDevmode As Long
           DesiredAccess As Long
       End Type
       Public Type PRINTER_INFO_2
           pServerName As Long
           pPrinterName As Long
           pShareName As Long
           pPortName As Long
           pDriverName As Long
           pComment As Long
           pLocation As Long
           pDevmode As Long       ' Pointer to DEVMODE
           pSepFile As Long
           pPrintProcessor As Long
           pDatatype As Long
           pParameters As Long
           pSecurityDescriptor As Long  ' Pointer to SECURITY_DESCRIPTOR
           Attributes As Long
           Priority As Long
           DefaultPriority As Long
           StartTime As Long
           UntilTime As Long
           Status As Long
           cJobs As Long
           AveragePPM As Long
       End Type
       Public Type DEVMODE
           dmDeviceName As String * 32
           dmSpecVersion As Integer
           dmDriverVersion As Integer
           dmSize As Integer
           dmDriverExtra As Integer
           dmFields As Long
           dmOrientation As Integer
           dmPaperSize As Integer
           dmPaperLength As Integer
           dmPaperWidth As Integer
           dmScale As Integer
           dmCopies As Integer
           dmDefaultSource As Integer
           dmPrintQuality As Integer
           dmColor As Integer
           dmDuplex As Integer
           dmYResolution As Integer
           dmTTOption As Integer
           dmCollate As Integer
           dmFormName As String * 32
           dmUnusedPadding As Integer
           dmBitsPerPel As Integer
           dmPelsWidth As Long
           dmPelsHeight As Long
           dmDisplayFlags As Long
           dmDisplayFrequency As Long
           dmICMMethod As Long
           dmICMIntent As Long
           dmMediaType As Long
           dmDitherType As Long
           dmReserved1 As Long
           dmReserved2 As Long
       End Type
       Public Const DM_DUPLEX = &H1000&
       Public Const DM_IN_BUFFER = 8
       Public Const DM_OUT_BUFFER = 2
       Public Const PRINTER_ACCESS_USE = &H8
       Public Const STANDARD_RIGHTS_REQUIRED = &HF0000
       Public Declare Function ClosePrinter Lib "winspool.drv" _
        (ByVal hPrinter As Long) As Long
       Public Declare Function DocumentProperties Lib "winspool.drv" _
         Alias "DocumentPropertiesA" (ByVal hwnd As Long, _
         ByVal hPrinter As Long, ByVal pDeviceName As String, _
         ByVal pDevModeOutput As Long, ByVal pDevModeInput As Long, _
         ByVal fMode As Long) As Long
       Public Declare Function GetPrinter Lib "winspool.drv" Alias _
         "GetPrinterA" (ByVal hPrinter As Long, ByVal Level As Long, _
         pPrinter As Byte, ByVal cbBuf As Long, pcbNeeded As Long) As Long
       Public Declare Function OpenPrinter Lib "winspool.drv" Alias _
         "OpenPrinterA" (ByVal pPrinterName As String, phPrinter As Long, _
         pDefault As PRINTER_DEFAULTS) As Long
       Public Declare Function SetPrinter Lib "winspool.drv" Alias _
         "SetPrinterA" (ByVal hPrinter As Long, ByVal Level As Long, _
         pPrinter As Byte, ByVal Command As Long) As Long
       Public Declare Sub CopyMemory Lib "kernel32" Alias "RtlMoveMemory" _
        (pDest As Any, pSource As Any, ByVal cbLength As Long)
       ' ==================================================================
       ' SetPrinterDuplex 
       '  Programmatically set the Duplex flag for the specified printer
       '  driver's default properties.
       '  Returns: True on success, False on error. (An error will also
       '  display a message box. This is done for informational value
       '  only. You should modify the code to support better error
       '  handling in your production application.)
       '  Parameters:
       '    sPrinterName - The name of the printer to be used.
       '    nDuplexSetting - One of the following standard settings:
       '       1 = None
       '       2 = Duplex on long edge (book)
       '       3 = Duplex on short edge (legal)
       ' ==================================================================
       Public Function SetPrinterDuplex(ByVal sPrinterName As String, _
           ByVal nDuplexSetting As Long) As Boolean
          Dim hPrinter As Long
          Dim pd As PRINTER_DEFAULTS
          Dim pinfo As PRINTER_INFO_2
          Dim dm As DEVMODE
          Dim yDevModeData() As Byte
          Dim yPInfoMemory() As Byte
          Dim nBytesNeeded As Long
          Dim nRet As Long, nJunk As Long
          On Error GoTo cleanup
          If (nDuplexSetting < 1) Or (nDuplexSetting > 3) Then
             MsgBox "Error: dwDuplexSetting is incorrect."
             Exit Function
          End If
          pd.DesiredAccess = PRINTER_ALL_ACCESS
          nRet = OpenPrinter(sPrinterName, hPrinter, pd)
          If (nRet = 0) Or (hPrinter = 0) Then
             If Err.LastDllError = 5 Then
                MsgBox "Access denied -- See the article for more info."
                MsgBox "Cannot open the printer specified " & _
                  "(make sure the printer name is correct)."
             End If
             Exit Function
          End If
          nRet = DocumentProperties(0, hPrinter, sPrinterName, 0, 0, 0)
          If (nRet < 0) Then
             MsgBox "Cannot get the size of the DEVMODE structure."
             GoTo cleanup
          End If
          ReDim yDevModeData(nRet + 100) As Byte
          nRet = DocumentProperties(0, hPrinter, sPrinterName, _
                      VarPtr(yDevModeData(0)), 0, DM_OUT_BUFFER)
          If (nRet < 0) Then
             MsgBox "Cannot get the DEVMODE structure."
             GoTo cleanup
          End If
          Call CopyMemory(dm, yDevModeData(0), Len(dm))
          If Not CBool(dm.dmFields And DM_DUPLEX) Then
            MsgBox "You cannot modify the duplex flag for this printer " & _
                   "because it does not support duplex or the driver " & _
                   "does not support setting it from the Windows API."
             GoTo cleanup
          End If
          dm.dmDuplex = nDuplexSetting
          Call CopyMemory(yDevModeData(0), dm, Len(dm))
          nRet = DocumentProperties(0, hPrinter, sPrinterName, _
            VarPtr(yDevModeData(0)), VarPtr(yDevModeData(0)), _
          If (nRet < 0) Then
            MsgBox "Unable to set duplex setting to this printer."
            GoTo cleanup
          End If
          Call GetPrinter(hPrinter, 2, 0, 0, nBytesNeeded)
          If (nBytesNeeded = 0) Then GoTo cleanup
          ReDim yPInfoMemory(nBytesNeeded + 100) As Byte
          nRet = GetPrinter(hPrinter, 2, yPInfoMemory(0), nBytesNeeded, nJunk)
          If (nRet = 0) Then
             MsgBox "Unable to get shared printer settings."
             GoTo cleanup
          End If
          Call CopyMemory(pinfo, yPInfoMemory(0), Len(pinfo))
          pinfo.pDevmode = VarPtr(yDevModeData(0))
          pinfo.pSecurityDescriptor = 0
          Call CopyMemory(yPInfoMemory(0), pinfo, Len(pinfo))
          nRet = SetPrinter(hPrinter, 2, yPInfoMemory(0), 0)
          If (nRet = 0) Then
             MsgBox "Unable to set shared printer settings."
          End If
          SetPrinterDuplex = CBool(nRet)
          If (hPrinter <> 0) Then Call ClosePrinter(hPrinter)
       End Function
  3. On Form1, add a standard Command Button.
  4. Add the following code to the code window for Form1:
       Option Explicit
       Private Sub Command1_Click()
          Dim oWord As Object
          Dim oDoc As Object
          Set oWord = CreateObject("Word.application")
          oWord.Visible = True
          Set oDoc = oWord.Documents.Add
          oWord.Selection.TypeText "This is on page 1" & vbCr
          oWord.Selection.InsertBreak 1
          oWord.Selection.TypeText "This is page 2"
          SetPrinterDuplex Printer.DeviceName, 2
          oDoc.PrintOut Background:=False
          SetPrinterDuplex Printer.DeviceName, 1
          MsgBox "Print Done", vbMsgBoxSetForeground
          oDoc.Saved = True
          Set oDoc = Nothing
          Set oWord = Nothing
       End Sub
  5. Run the sample. If you have a printer that supports duplex printing, the test document should print on both sides of the page.


For more information on problems you might see while trying to print Word documents using a duplex printer, please see the following articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

176189 WD97: Shading of Solid Black or Gray Won't Print Duplex on NT

196857 WD97: First Page Prints on Back of Last Page with Duplex

214683 WD97: Duplex Printing Does Not Duplex with Objects on Page


Article ID: 230743 - Last Review: January 24, 2007 - Revision: 2.3
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic Enterprise Edition for Windows 6.0
  • Microsoft Word 2002
  • Microsoft Word 2000
  • Microsoft Word 97 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Office XP Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Office 2000 Developer Edition
kbapi kbautomation kbhowto kbprint KB230743

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