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I have installed a Brother printer for a friend. The printer is currently connected by wireless to their laptop running Ubuntu. The problem is that when I print, the pages are cut off at the top and bottom margins. What I mean is that the printer (or printing driver) seems to have increased the top and bottom margins on its own without being told to by the computer.

  • Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS
  • Brother MFC-J470DW printer
  • PPD file shows FormatVersion 4.3 and FileVersion 2.2
  • Printer connected wirelessly
  • All the documents I'm printing are formatted as Letter (8.5"x11").
  • I've tried printing from various apps; all have the same problem.
  • Printing from another device on the network (e.g. iPad) is fine.
  • The physical paper in the printer is Letter.
  • The little physical menu display on the front of the printer is set to Letter.
  • The printer settings in Ubuntu are also set to Letter. This applies to both [Settings > Printers > Brother_MFC_J470DW > Gear icon > Printing Options > Media size] and [Settings > Printers > Additional Printer Settings > Brother_MFC_J470DW > Properties > Job Options > Media]

I've prepared a single-page, letter-sized document in LibreOffice with a simple black border around the whole page and using default margins. When I print this page, rather than seeing the whole rectangular border, I only see the two sides of the rectangle. (Print preview is fine, but the physical print is cut off.) Here's a picture to illustrate:

Top and bottom of document are cut off when printing

It really feels to me like something in the printing pipeline in Ubuntu is applying an A4 paper size, but I can't figure out where. I say this because A4 paper is longer and narrower than Letter, so it would make sense that something in the printer driver is applying incorrect margins or printable area.

I'm able to workaround the problem using the "Scale to fit" checkbox in Job Options from the dialog path I specified above. But this option causes the whole document to be shrunk down, which is not ideal.

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  • @user68186 It's a text file with one line: "letter". Jan 16 '20 at 1:28
  • That is as it should be.
    – user68186
    Jan 16 '20 at 1:36
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I read elsewhere about PPD files having a manifest of all the supported paper sizes and margins, printable areas, etc.

So I tried editing mine and tweaking those:

sudo nano /etc/cups/ppd/Brother_MFC_J470DW.ppd

I found this line:

*ImageableArea Letter: "8.503937007874 62.362204724409 603.496062992126 729.637"

These seem to be X/Y coordinates forming a rectangle within the boundaries of the full letter paper size, which is defined elsewhere as:

*PaperDimension Letter: "612 792"

So I changed the ImageableArea line to this:

*ImageableArea Letter: "8.503937007874 32.362204724409 603.496062992126 765.637"

This reduces the Y offsets and makes the printable area longer. And it worked! The prints are no longer cut off. I'm not sure if this is a great solution (or what units are used in this manifest - maybe points?) but it's better than shrinking everything that is printed out.

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    Mine says: *ImageableArea Letter/Letter 8.5x11in: "9 27 603 747" and PaperDimension Letter/Letter 8.5x11in: "612 783". But it is a different printer's ppd.
    – user68186
    Jan 16 '20 at 1:41
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    @user68186 Yes, I can see from those dimensions that the printable ("imageable") area for your printer is much larger than the defaults in mine. E.g. your top margin is 27 vs ~65 and your bottom margin is 747 vs ~729. Jan 16 '20 at 2:38
  • @JordanRieger Yes, units are point = 1/72 inch. E.g., PaperDimension is 612/72 = 8.5 inch by 792/72 = 11 inch.
    – Quigi
    Feb 15 '20 at 14:21

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