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Barry MacDonnell's
Toolbox for WordPerfect

Macros, tips, and templates for Corel® WordPerfect® for Windows®
© Copyright 1996-2017 by Barry MacDonnell. All Rights Reserved.

Page updated Nov 13, 2013

ALTMARG - Change the outside (or inside) page margins on alternate pages in a document to a wider setting

Download ALTMARG.ZIP (v1.01.02; 10/22/07; 22,047 bytes)

Compatible with WordPerfect 7 and later versions

Downloading, Documentation, Modifications, and Support

Click here for a simple graphic illustration that shows Page 2 and Page 3 of a document after playing ALTMARG. The resulting document has 2.5" outer margins and 1" inner margins. The spine of the "book" is the gray area between the two pages, and is where the pages will be bound. (You can also set wider inside margins to reverse the effect.)

Click here to download AltMarg.pdf, a two-page explanatory document that was formatted with alternating margins and headers. (PDF format; this file is also included with the above macro as a regular .wpd file.)

You can download both the macro and instructions in one archive file (above).

For instructions on how to insert pull quotes or other side bar material in text boxes (like those shown in the linked document), see the Tips section below.

Purpose and comparison to WordPerfect's features

This macro produces an effect similar to the appearance of many nonfiction books, textbooks, manuals, directories, cookbooks, etc., that have large amounts of "white space" outside the main text area on alternating pages throughout the document or book.

See the left sidebar for a screen shot of a sample document (in 2-page view) after AltMarg increased the outer margin areas (i.e., the areas opposite the inner binding area or "spine").

This technique is very useful for producing spiral bound or other self-published documents.

Note that you can also set the inner margin areas to a larger amount. [See the Tips below about setting a binding width.]

How it works

The AltMarg macro works by placing new left and right page margin delay codes on every page of an existing document. It's important to note that it does not "set up" or prepare a new, empty document the way you can set up, for example, odd and even page placement for headers/footers before you actually start typing the document's body text. Instead, it is used to format the margins in the final document.

Play it on an existing document (or a copy of one) -- one that you have finished and that is ready to print (two-sided).

Delay codes are used because ordinary left/right page margin codes that are added on subsequent pages sometimes spontaneously move or shift to the middle of a previous page, especially in long or complex documents. (This seems to be a minor bug in WordPerfect.) However, delay codes point to exact pages, so this seems to be a more reliable method of inserting odd/even page margin codes on each page.


If you have existing delay codes in a document, they may conflict with the delay codes used by the macro.

In fact, since there are many format codes that can be used in a document, the macro may fail to work if there is a conflict with the delay codes used to produce alternating margins.

Hence, the recommendation to play the macro on a copy of the final version of your document, and then inspect the document to make sure its formatting has not been impacted.

For more on the macro's operation, see the comments at the top of the macro's code. (Just open the macro like any other WordPerfect document.)


☼  Setting a greater binding width: WordPerfect lets you increase the binding width (the area where the document or book will be bound along the "spine") with Format, Page, Page Setup, Layout tab (choose "Two-sided printing": Book, then "Two-sided binding": Inside).

Use View, Two Page to see the effect of increasing the binding width on Alternating pages.

Unlike the AltMarg macro, however, you cannot place graphics in the binding area, whereas you can place them in an increased inner margin area (a choice on the macro's menu).

See Footnote 1 which discusses the difference between setting a binding width compared to setting new inner page margins with AltMarg.

☼  Page identifiers:  See "Page identification," for how to create alternating page identification headers similar to the style used in many books (e.g., "2 / Chapter 5" on the left and "Chapter 5 / 3" on the right).

☼  Subdivided pages:  If you are using subdivided pages (e.g., a landscape page divided in half), you will need to reverse the two measurements entered in the macro's opening dialog.

For example, if you want 0.5" margins on the outside edges of the subdivided page, and 1.0" margins in the middle ("gutter") of the subdivided page, use these measurements:

Outside L/R Page Margins:  1"
Inside L/R Page Margins:  0.5"

Explanation: The "outside margins" of Page 1 and Page 2 of a subdivided page (the left-hand and right-hand sides of the first subdivided page) are actually positioned facing the middle of the subdivided page, adjacent to the gutter of the physical page. Hence the need to reverse measurements for subdivided (2 x 1) pages.

☼  Pull quotes and side bars:  You can use pull quotes or side bars in your new, wide margins (such as those used in both the PDF document and graphic illustration above).

Pull quotes or side bar material can be put inside text boxes (with or without borders, fills, or graphics) and anchored in place next to the adjacent paragraph. They then will "travel' with the spot on the page they are related to if you later add or delete material in the document. Here's how to create them.

(1) Play AltMarg to set up your margins. Place your cursor over the desired page and click on it to position the cursor on the page (anywhere on the page's body text area will do).

(2) Click on Insert, Text Box. A standard text box appears, in edit mode (it will have a hatched border with eight small, open squares around the edges). Enter your text inside the text box (you can even insert graphics or symbols). Click outside the box to exit from it back to your document.

(3) Next, resize the box. There are two ways to do this.

(a) Right-click on the box and click Select Box from the drop down context menu that appears. Eight solid black squares or "handles" should appear around the perimeter of the box. Pass your mouse cursor over a handle until it turns into a double-headed arrow. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the handle to resize the box in the direction(s) of the arrows. Repeat as needed with other boxes.

- or -

(b) Right-click the box and select Size... from the context menu and set the box's size manually. Exit the Box Size dialog with OK.

[Note that the context menu has several other options, which are worth time exploring.]

(4) Move your mouse back over any edge of the selected box (i.e., the box with all eight drag handles visible) until the cursor turns into a four-headed arrow. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the box into position in the margin area; it will be attached -- "anchored" -- in position to the adjacent paragraph, as shown by a small thumb-tack icon that appears when you move the box. (You can change or fine tune the Position manually in the context menu, but you probably will want to leave it attached to Paragraph so that it will move if you later insert or delete body text.)

(5) After resizing or repositioning the box, click outside the box to return to the body text area. Done!


With AltMarg and WordPerfect text boxes, you can use the wide margin area to summarize important points, provide instructions, or emphatically repeat material ("pull quote") found in the body text area.

☼  Footnotes and Endnotes:

Footnote and endnote margins may require manual adjustment after playing this macro.

For footnotes, an easy way to do this is to drag the footnote margins with your mouse to match the new L/R page margins set by this macro. For endnotes, open the Reveal Codes window, click in the endnote area itself, double-click the [Open Style Endnote] code in Reveal Codes. In the Styles Editor dialog that pops up, insert a new page margin (Format|Margins) for the endnotes to match the current page's margins.

Here is more information about formatting footnotes and endnotes.

☼  Printing on the front and back of pages:

Here's a tip from Noal Mellott on WordPerfect Universe:

"...there is one other point to take into account when printing recto-verso. If the text on the back of the page and the text on the front do not overlay each other fully, you may, depending on the paper you are using and the ink, end up with a messy print-out. If the paper is thin or the ink too dark, the text along the margins from one side of the paper will be grayishly visible on the other side! You can check that out by hodling the back-front printed page up to the light.
To avoid this, I ... carefully set margins wide enough on both sides of the paper/page so as to have a large enough gutter AND so as to make the text on both sides of the page overlap fully."

Thanks to Scott Phillip Stewart, PhD., for the idea for this macro.

Footnote 1

Setting the inner margin areas to a larger amount with the AltMarg macro
Setting a new WordPerfect inner binding width

Unlike setting an increased inner binding width (area) for alternating pages (with Format, Page, Page Setup, Layout tab, "Increase margin for: <inches>", "Alternating" checkbox), setting wider alternating inside page margins with AltMarg allows you to place text boxes (pull quotes, sidebars, etc.) or graphic images in the wider margin area in the same way you can place them in outer margin areas.

If you create Alternating increased margins for binding. the program doesn't produce true alternating inner page margins, even though it looks that way on the associated dynamic graphic display in the Layout window when you increase the "margin for binding" (a.k.a. the "binding width") to some non-zero value. Rather, it produces alternating (increased) binding widths. Because binding widths make global adjustments to the inner printable area and not adjustments to each individual page's text area, the binding areas will not accept inserted graphics or other material. [If you still need to use extra binding widths, see the tip above.]

Try both methods -- the native WordPerfect page setup method or the AltMarg macro (or both) -- to see what works best for your purposes.

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