Wednesday, 30 May 2018

When Comment Balloons Won't Print

Ah, the joys of trying to diagnose Word problems! I was recently trying to create a pdf from a Word ethics application file that I was reviewing for a student, which I had annotated with comments 'balloons' (I call them bubbles, much nicer!).

Then, for some inexplicable reason, each resulting pdf that I created showed the right-hand side bar in grey, just as if it were preparing to show comments, but had then forgotten to add the comments themselves in at the last minute. I tried several times: checking my page layout, the print page layout, that the bubbles were set correctly on the review ribbon. Everything looked perfectly normal. I double-checked the pdf print settings. They too all looked normal. I shut down the file, reopened it. I tried again.

No dice. The comment bubbles simply didn't print. I could see them on screen. I could see them in print preview. But they did not turn up in the pdf.

What was annoying was that the same document had printed bubbles perfectly well the night before. In the meantime though, I had sent the anotations on the ethics application back to the student, the student had amended the base file, and uploaded their next version into TurnItIn. I had downloaded the update, made my comments... and now I couldn't print my annotations to pdf again to send it back to the student for round three.

So I turned to Google, and ran a search on "my comments bubbles are not printing in Word". Straight away I found someone who had the business. MCGT (18 May 2012) had found a workaround for when documents don't print bubbles, which is quite simple:
  • Close Word.
  • Re-open Word.
  • Open the document within Word (not using Windows Explorer). Once open you will probably find that your bubbles have changed colour. This is a good sign.
  • File | Print (select pdf)  | Settings | Print all pages | Ensure 'Print mark-up' is ticked.
  • Click Print. Please note that this does not fix the underlying issue (whatever that is): it only provides a fast and dirty way around the problem.
But at least I now magically have a pdf with visible bubbles.

I am using still Word 2010, which I am running on a Windows 2007 platform ...and I am dreading the day my PC dies as I love this system.

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