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Posted 20 Apr 2009


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Print a WinForms User Control

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4.86/5 (6 votes)
20 Apr 2009CPOL2 min read
Here's how to print your custom user control on a full page.


A few weeks ago, I had a seemingly simple problem. My application has a complex user control, representing a report, and my client decided he wanted to be able to print it to a page. I thought, "how hard could that be?"


After an hour vainly attempting to figure this out on my own, followed by queries to old colleagues, then some fruitless searching through this forum and others, I had found only a few hints and code snippets. I could print the control - but it was really tiny, and sitting in the corner of the page. Obviously, I needed to figure out how to scale the thing properly. So, I rolled up my sleeves and dove in ... and here we are.

A basic requirement before you will find this article helpful is to have a user control (or form) that makes sense to print to a full page. Some small controls will look absurd when expanded to a full page; some large ones that scroll off the screen will likely be illegible when shrunk to fit on a single sheet. But, the basic technique that I present should give you clues as to how you might treat those cases.

Using the code

Printing a scaled object actually turns out to be fairly simple ... once you already know how to do it.

The basic concept for all custom printing is to use the PrintPage event from a PrintDocument, probably owned by your form. Within your event handler, you can call a method of your custom control's class, where you can encapsulate any special needs that the control might have.

In my form, I have a property, CurrentReportControl, which points to the currently-viewed report, and so my PrintPage event handler looks like this:

/// <summary>
/// Print document wants to print a page.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="sender"></param>
/// <param name="e"></param>
private void printDocument1_PrintPage(object sender, PrintPageEventArgs e)
  CurrentReportControl.PrintToGraphics(e.Graphics, e.MarginBounds);

The PrintPageEventArgs object provides a Graphics object on which to draw whatever you want, and it defines the page margins as well. I pass these to the PrintToGraphics() method of my custom control.

This method draws the control to a Bitmap, and then draws the bitmap to the Graphics object with the proper scaling. Care is taken to maximize the use of the printed page, without altering the aspect ratio of the control as viewed on the screen:

/// <summary>
/// Print the control's view to a Graphics object.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="graphics">Graphics object to draw on.</param>
/// <param name="bounds">Rectangle to print in.</param>
public void PrintToGraphics(Graphics graphics, Rectangle bounds)
  Bitmap bitmap = new Bitmap(this.Width, this.Height);
  this.DrawToBitmap(bitmap, new Rectangle(0, 0, bitmap.Width, bitmap.Height));
  Rectangle target = new Rectangle(0, 0, bounds.Width, bounds.Height);
  double xScale = (double)bitmap.Width / bounds.Width;
  double yScale = (double)bitmap.Height / bounds.Height;
  if (xScale < yScale)
    target.Width = (int)(xScale * target.Width / yScale);
    target.Height = (int)(yScale * target.Height / xScale);
  graphics.PageUnit = GraphicsUnit.Display;
  graphics.DrawImage(bitmap, target);

Points of interest

An interesting topic that I found myself distracted by was the Graphics.PageUnit property, which defines various scalings for different graphical objects, such as display, printer, etc.


  • 1.0 - First release.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Software Developer (Senior) self
United States United States
After seventeen years dinking around in electrical designs and software at a major defense contractor, I then spent six years making video slots do things they were never meant to do at a gaming company in Las Vegas. Now I'm a software consultant from home, since 2005.

Comments and Discussions

Questionsome controls aren't visible in the print preview Pin
mlorenzo1312-Dec-17 10:12
Membermlorenzo1312-Dec-17 10:12 
Questiongreat script & and an optimization Pin
casiosmu14-Apr-16 21:24
Membercasiosmu14-Apr-16 21:24 
Questionthank you very much Pin
Member 98257889-May-15 17:42
MemberMember 98257889-May-15 17:42 
QuestionTexts in printed page not clear! Pin
Member 1069153222-Mar-14 11:45
MemberMember 1069153222-Mar-14 11:45 
AnswerCurrentReportControl Pin
n shiva Ram6-Nov-14 20:08
Membern shiva Ram6-Nov-14 20:08 
Question"Ported" to Pin
GojiraDeMonstah14-Mar-13 12:07
MemberGojiraDeMonstah14-Mar-13 12:07 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
BornToCodePost25-Jun-12 5:47
MemberBornToCodePost25-Jun-12 5:47 
QuestionHow to print a user control which has scrollbar? Pin
busbby11-Sep-10 16:30
Memberbusbby11-Sep-10 16:30 
AnswerRe: How to print a user control which has scrollbar? Pin
tystent13-Sep-10 15:51
Membertystent13-Sep-10 15:51 
GeneralRe: How to print a user control which has scrollbar? Pin
busbby14-Sep-10 0:22
Memberbusbby14-Sep-10 0:22 
GeneralRe: How to print a user control which has scrollbar? Pin
tystent4-Oct-10 13:38
Membertystent4-Oct-10 13:38 

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