Automatic Page Sizing in Visio 2010

When you start a new diagram, you typically begin with a single drawing page that is the size of a standard piece of printer paper.  Many diagrams grow beyond the size of a single printed sheet.  Visio 2010 adds a dynamic page sizing capability that responds as you draw, so you no longer have to manually adjust your page size to your diagram.

As you draw beyond the edge of the current page, Visio expands the page in that direction by one additional tile, or printer paper sheet.



If you live preview adding a shape with AutoConnect, Visio also previews the tiles that will be added.  As you drag shapes outside the current page or drag shapes from the Shapes window, Visio shows a translucent preview of the new tiles that will be added if the shape is dropped in its current location.


All sorts of things can affect the size of your diagram when printed, including adding shapes, deleting shapes, moving shapes, adding or removing text and changing text properties.  Any of these will alert Visio to update the page larger or smaller to keep the drawing within full tiles.

Start with this: image
Add more text: image
Delete the shape: image

You may also notice that the depiction of page breaks and margins is different than in Visio 2007.  We simplified the look of page breaks and many people will find them similar to Excel’s.  Margins are now a clear white area around the entire page.  We think you will find this much more clear than the grey bars in past versions of Visio.  We also enable showing page breaks and margins by default in new drawings, to help make it clear how Visio is adjusting your page.

This auto sizing behavior is controlled using the Auto Size toggle button on the Design tab.  If you click the dialog launcher and open the Page Setup dialog, you’ll see we replaced the now-defunct “Same as printer paper size” option with “Let Visio expand the page as needed”.  The sharp-eyed Visio expert will notice that the “Size to fit drawing contents” option is also gone from the dialog.  Since that item was more of a one-time action than a persistent state of tightly fitting the page to the diagram, we moved it to the Page Size dropdown and renamed it “Fit to Drawing”.

image image

Since we’re talking about page sizing, it’s also worth taking a quick look at manual page adjustments.  The Orientation and Size dropdown buttons on the Design tab surface the most commonly-used items from the Page Setup dialog.

image image

When Auto Size is enabled, these reflect the orientation and size of the printer paper (the tiles in the drawing page), because Auto Size controls the size of the page based on the printer paper settings.  Changing them changes the orientation and size of the printer paper settings.  If you change these, the number of tiles required to contain the diagram may also change, so your drawing page may change size.

Size = Letter (8.5” x 11”)
Orientation = Landscape
Size = Letter (8.5” x 11”)
Orientation = Portrait

When Auto Size is disabled, these reflect the orientation and size of the drawing page, because you are controlling it, not Visio.  Changing them sets both the drawing page and the printer paper settings, to keep them in sync.

Size = Letter (8.5” x 11”)
Orientation = Landscape
Size = Letter (8.5” x 11”)
Orientation = Portrait

Essentially, we made Orientation and Size work as expected depending on context – whether Auto Size is on or off.  That is, whether you have Visio taking care of the page size or if you are doing it.

We hope these additions will help you to more easily, and more fluidly, build and edit your diagrams.  As usual, send us any feedback you have using Send a Smile or through a comment on the blog.

Comments (47)

  1. Jason says:

    Excellent!!  I’ve needed this feature since 2003.  Database diagrams often overlap the printed page and I end up calculating page sizes manually.

    I would upgrade for this one feature alone.

  2. This feature is terrible, but I’m thankful for this blog entry that alerted me to it and how to turn it off.  I have a Visio document that I use as a template for patent drawings.  When I first opened the document in Visio 2010, a text box I have at the top of the page in the header area was moved from right and up from its position in Visio 2007, and a sample flow diagram on the page was also similarly shifted.  I selected the top text box and hit the down and left arrows expecting to move it back into position, and the sheet itself starts moving all over the place instead of the text box.  I hit left, the sheet moves left, very bizarre, as if the sheet is running away from my text box and refusing to let me put it in the position I want it in.  So I try grabbing the entire flow diagram (by drawing a selection box around it), then I click and grab the whole thing and start moving it.  Surprise, again the sheet starts dancing all over the place and getting bigger.  Finally I read this blog and had to go to each sheet one by one and turn off Auto Size.  Really wish this didn’t just default to "on" in old documents.  It’s also a bad feature for me because I commonly use the off-sheet area to temporarily move shapes to when I am composing a drawing and don’t need a shape for a moment.  I don’t intend for the sheet to get bigger when I set something to the side.  For patent drawings, I am under very strict Patent Office requirements that the page size be A4 paper, so anything that changes the sheet size leaves me with a potential filing error and a rejection of my drawings.  

    Another thing that is very annoying, where did the little x’s go that used to denote the centerpoint of a text box even when it was not selected?  I used to use that to align other shapes to, and now I cannot easily tell where the text box’s center is without actually selecting it.  Only once I’ve selected it that defeats the purpose because it is a shape other than the text box that I want to select and move.  Any help in setting up Visio 2010 to be more like 2007 in this respect would be appreciated, as I don’t see an option for it.  I would hate to think I lost features by upgrading.  

  3. Katie says:

    Honestly, I'm not sure if this is a great addition. It took me hours to figure this! lots of wasted time, not impressed

  4. Katie says:

    Honestly, I'm not sure if this is a great addition. It took me hours to figure this! lots of wasted time, not impressed

  5. Nathaniel says:

    You've wasted 4 hours of my time as I now must go page by page, and turn this rediculous feature off.  Not to mention, when you switch it, the page is off to the left, right or anywhere by centered under the ACTIVE Content.

    Thanks for a terrible & useless upgrade.

  6. Skowronek says:

    I agree, terrible feature. I as well actually stopped using 2010 and reverted to 2007 due to all my drawings getting jacked when I'd try to do any sort of editing.


  7. Stephanie says:

    Ok, I have a large document (75 pages) that I created in Visio 2003.  I now have 2010.  When I try to change the Page Setup and turn off the Auto Size one page at a time, the program freezes up and has the "Not Responding" error message. I'm assuming this is because the document is so large.  Is there a way to turn off the Auto Size for all 75 pages at once?? Please help.

  8. Hoon says:

    I installed Visio 2010 pro in a clean windows 7 x64. I installed all the updates as of Feb 15, 2011. When I tried to draw a simple flow chart with about 10 blocks, Visio 2010 just stops responding, and close. I redrew the whole thing again, then when I tried to save it, again it stops responding, and closes and restarts. Something has got to be wrong, right?

    I have MS office 2010 home installed too. I initially thought Bluetooth was causing the crashes like in Office 2007, but I already tried disabling that, and it didn't help.

  9. simon says:

    Nice article, very useful.


  10. @wickedgeekie says:

    for all that's Holly and Sacred, PLEASE implement "turn off auto-sizing for all pages in document" at the earliest. So far 6 hours spent cleaning up the mess this feature has created when we started opening Visio 2007 docs in Visio 2010. This feature is as loathed as Clippy as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps even more.

  11. Ken says:

    I hate this feature. I agree. Please tell us how to turn this off. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  12. Goldkill. says:

    I used to be able to draw something and then afterwards click fit to contents and it would do so perfectly. Now, even if ass that command, it's disabled.  Thanks guys.

  13. Sam says:

    When you have to look up a function it implies that the function is not intuitive.  It also adds time to the task at hand.  I do not like this feature.

  14. Mark says:

    I have thrown away many hours already fighting this functionality. Please add a turn it off button ASAP. Many people bcome frustrated, I will advise to use other software in every other project I start from now on. Very bad job, as you can read it frustrates me a lot

  15. Ollie says:

    I wish it were possible to control the amount of border that gets added around the edge of a diagram.

    Most of my visios end up embedded in a word document and I find the default margin too large when I select "fit to page"

  16. Grant Major says:

    I concur – this feature needlessly creates additional work undoing what it has 'helpfully' done for you (many hours and many documents in my case), and it needs the option to be set 'off' by default.

  17. N Zohn says:

    Horrible horrible. Causes endless problems moving pages around. What idiot came up with this feature, and the bigger moron who didn't back-test it need to go.

    I hope IT will uninstall and let be go back to Visio 2007.

  18. Surrogate says:

    I agree, this option to be set 'off' by default!!!

    in Visio2003, in Page Setup Settings was option "Same as printer paper size"

    (Page Setup => PageSize). This option more usefull…

  19. smitty777 says:

    Hi folks.  I too, like you, have an extreme dislike for this feature. I found a simple solution for those of you importing older docs that want to turn this off page by page.  Go to developer mode and page through the foreground pages using the arrow key while pressing the toggle button for each page.  Took me ~ 2 mins for a very large document.  

    Now that I know what to look out for, I have a post it note next to my monitor to remind me to ***always**** make sure this horrid feature is always turned off.

  20. Ash says:

    I agree with all those who say this is a terrible feature. I have yet to determine how to globally turn it OFFFFFFFF.  It really sucks, and has wasted hours of my time.  Brilliant MS, just brilliant.  I often think there really must be a special place in he11 for many MS programmers.

  21. Annoyed to Hell says:

    Ribbon interface sucks.  Before the ribbon, I never had to Google a solution to hidden and stupid unneeded unwanted changes.  

  22. JohnE says:

    How can it be 2 years later and no solution from Microsoft for this? I just went through hell fixing an older Visio that 2010 decided needed larger pages throughout through autosizing. How does something like this get through test or beta without change? I'm the first in our org to use 2010 and I'm telling everyone to stay with 2007.

  23. David Bremner says:

    this is costing our organization time and money. Please provide a way to turn this misfeature off.

  24. Frustrated Engineer says:

    It's Decemeber 2012, we just upgraded to 2010 and I had to Google "autosize". Like the previous posters – every Visio 2007 file that we open has autosize ON by default. We work on fixed size documents and are used to using the blank space beyond the page as a scrap area.

    Now we have to change the setting for EVERY page of EVERY document?

    Ugh. Ugh!

  25. Frustrated professional says:

    I think this feature might be fun for children who are exploring boundless creativity or for people who have a work-optional lifestyle and can afford to spend their days drawing with no purpose.  With the latter case, “letting Visio expand the page as needed” can help facilitate enormous time wasting.  For professionals using Visio in the real world, however, having a fixed size drawing sheet is crucial to efficiency since all of my drawings need to be within set margins.  Ideally this feature would be exorcised from Visio immediately with an update *and* a sincere apology issued.  In lieu of the ideal solution, this feature should at least be buried extremely deep within advanced settings such that auto sizing the page is not a default setting and only accessible after some dialog box warnings.  Sadly, lack of way to permanently disable this feature was a deal breaker for me.  So now I will uninstall Visio 2010 and reinstall Visio 2007.  I plan to stick with Visio 2007 for as long as I can.  I will most likely be using Visio for years, so I really hope this feature gets removed or fixed.

  26. Alan says:

    This is a horrible, horrible, horrible feature.  It is hard enough making diagrams that are neat with varying, changing grids, without the diagram suddenly changing size, meaning that everything is now on a different grid, and any changes made do NOT line up with the old parts of the diagram.

    Honestly, I think that Word 97 was a better drawing program for diagrams if you insert a word drawing to keep everything together.

  27. Ken says:

    I despise this feature and the Visio 2010 interface in general. Assuming that MS hires "Human Factor" engineers, they should all be fired. If they don't have them, they should. It is not at all surprising that Windows 8 is bombing.

  28. Anothersite says:

    This "feature" still sucks. There needs to be a way to globally turn it off for all pages in Visio 2010. The global control should be located in Visio Options, General, so that it can be prominently seen. It is a natural fit under User Interface options. The "feature" needs to go away.

  29. DH says:

    This feature, while useful for certain contexts, produces horrible side effects in fixed-size document drafting, which is the majority of my work these days. I've been a user of Visio since 99…nearly all of the 2010 changes have made Visio more difficult and less of a power tool than it once was. This page resizing issue especially goes in the negative column.

    Surely there must be some way to change this default state, globally? Going through and wrestling down every page and multiple backgrounds of a 100+ page is NOT a valuable use of my time.

  30. Ed Callway says:

    How do I get rid of the big white margins around each page? I need grid to the edge of each page. This "feature" has broken Visio for me – petitioning our IT to give us back 2007. TERRIBLE!!!

    In every other M'soft product, there's a menu to set margins. What happened here?

  31. Visio Expert says:

    Who designs these dumb features? this is nothing but useless fluff, probably designed by a bored teenager that has no idea of the damage and frustration caused.

  32. Fit my drawing on a Legal-size paper says:

    My drawing takes up more than one tile.  What steps should I take to print the whole drawing on one legal-size paper?

  33. BraddersTheFish says:

    I miss the ability to get Visio to fit your diagram to a page size even if it meant it was much smaller than ideal.

  34. Ana Maria says:

    This is terrible and I cannot still work out the easiest way to do it. Waisted hoooouuurs !

  35. Dirk says:

    I find the AUTOSIZE feature most unhelpful. I realise that I can turn the feature off. But the problem is that AUTOSIZE is automatically re-enabled the next time I open the document. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I am using Visio 2013 or 2010 depending on where I am working.

    So every time I reopen the document I have to manually disable AUTOSIZE for the page that I work on. The setting fails to persist.

    Is there anyway to (a) make  AUTOSIZE settings persist, or (b) entirely disable AUTOSIZE?

    thank you

  36. Dirk says:

    Thanks  smitty777 for the best work-around so far.


    23 Feb 2012 4:17 AM

    Hi folks.  I too, like you, have an extreme dislike for this feature. I found a simple solution for those of you importing older docs that want to turn this off page by page.  Go to developer mode and page through the foreground pages using the arrow key while pressing the toggle button for each page.  Took me ~ 2 mins for a very large document.  

    Now that I know what to look out for, I have a post it note next to my monitor to remind me to ***always**** make sure this horrid feature is always turned off.

  37. bph says:

    I work on small drawings (business card size) printed on standard paper. The margins displayed are useless and wrong. Hiding the ability to reset them is very annoying.

  38. Pete A says:

    How can I manage the default print settings when the visio drawing is saved as a web page?  No matter what settings I adjust in Visio, the default setting in internet explorer are always set to Portrait orientation and Letter paper size.

  39. Linda G says:

    How can I open a 2003 .vsd in 2010 and get it to print right?  The background is off the page, it looks like there is a giant margin at the top even if I zero it out.  ugh.

  40. Paul says:

    Thank you for showing me how to disable this; feature is a nuisance most of the time

  41. Mark says:

    Terrible feature. Now I have to recreate flow charts.

  42. Amar_MSFT says:

    There is a fix that went in Oct 14 patch that fixes the legacy (Visio 2007 and before) import issue. When you import files that are created in Visio 2007 or before, the autosize will by default be off in Visio 2013.

    Also, if you are creating a new document, then the autosize is template driven and is off for templates where the drawing should not extend the page size (specifically layout and plan templates). If you wish to turn it off, use the ribbon option to turn the autosize off.

  43. Settle down people says:

    Wow lots of negativity in this thread.

  44. Steve says:

    I am with Mason, the only good thing I can say about this 'feature' is that it can be turned off.  

    I uninstalled V2010 and attempted to revert back to V2007 which is superior in every way, but alas the door was shut.   Hate the ribbon, had this silly thing how about a list of all the disables that brings it back to 2007.  

    I knew Microsoft would ruin this product given enought time.  So it took almost 10 years to do it This is truely a testiment to how solid Visio was to begin with.  

  45. Martin Jones says:

    A good explanation but I have a different issue. My drawing has been created on paper size A0(large) but I need to reduce this to A4 (smaller). Is there a way to automatically reduce the drawing to fit on a smaller page?

  46. JJGray says:

    This is indeed an annoying feature, especially because it destroys layouts of existing drawings when they are opened. (I often 'store' unused elements off to the side of the page, One of the brilliant things you can do in Visio.)

    Why not allow it to be turned off globally instead of one page at a time??  Why is it enabled every time I create a new page, pouncing unhelpfully at some random point during my editing. (Like Mason, I am also using i for patent drawings. They are to be A4.

    FIX THIS PLEASE!!The change to ribbon design wastes a lot of space and a lot of clicks, by the way, compared with the toolbar of 2007.

  47. Tom Stein says:

    That is complete useless for a lot of not-a-whole-page drawings that are used to be embedded in other documents. What is still missing is a function that automatically cuts the Visio page to what is needed by the objects – without any border, even ignoring the printing page.

    Then the user or the embedding document can decide how to print this.

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