How to Print Music Large Enough to See!
example page    Published piano music is typically printed on paper that is at least 9 inches wide by 12 inches high—and for good reason.  At the distance of the music stand 9 x 12 is just large enough for a person of average vision to read the notes.

    Now some music available for download on the Internet is not too clear to begin with—it might have been scanned at a low resolution, or the page not placed flush against the scanner glass.  Example music

    Even, when the scan is of reasonably good quality it can be difficult to read notes that are densely packed, when printed on 8-1/2 inch by 11 inch paper.  The obvious solution to this problem is to print music on 9 x 12 inch paper.

    Easier said than done!  First, there is no such thing as 9 x 12 inch paper.  Well, that is perhaps an overstatement.  One can easily find 9 x 12 inch sketch pads, or reams of soft drawing paper with ragged edges that leave a residue of dust in the printer, not to mention getting all mangled up!

    Ah, but one can purchase very good quality paper that is 12 inches by 18 inches in size.  As anyone who excelled in arithmetic can deduce, 12 x 18 inches is exactly twice 9 x 12 inches.  Almost all that is needed then is to cut the paper in half.




Rotary cutter
    Do not use scissors!  It might be theoretically possible to cut paper exactly in half with scissors, but this is not recommended as a practical exercise.  Instead use a rotary paper cutter.  The one I use is a Carl model DC-220.

    Perhaps it should be mentioned that this article is predicated on the assumption that one wishes to print more than a single page of music.  For just one page, it might be less costly to visit the local print shop.

    In addition to paper and a cutter, what else is needed?  Oh yes, a printer!  The ordinary small computer printer won’t do.  You might think, “what’s an inch more or less?”  An inch is the difference between works in your printer and does not work in your printer!
Large format printer
    Fortunately large format printers are not much more expensive than small office printers.  The Epson model WF-7510 that I use cost less than $200 and serves as printer, copier, and fax “all-in-one.”  It accepts larger paper than the 9 x 12 size that is desirable for printing music.  In fact it might be possible to print two pages side by side in this printer—I haven’t tried that.

    Finally, once you have the paper and printer, it is necessary to configure the application to print the specified size.  This is easy.  Here is what you would do to configure 9 x 12 inch printing in Adobe Reader, for example:


1. File, Print, Select Printer
2. Choose “Properties”
3. Document Size = User-Defined
    a. Paper width = 9-inches
    b. Paper height = 12-inches
    c. Save as ‘Music 9x12’ or any desired name
4. Verify the paper type has not changed. Click OK
5. Set “Page scaling” to “Fit to page”
6. Click OK to print

    When everything is working, be sure to print lots of music in order to enjoy economies of scale.  If you buy a printer or a cutter just to print music, the first few pages will be expensive!  But depending on the selection of music, those pages might turn out to be an excellent value.