Printing on Paper

When viewing something on the screen isn’t convenient, you may want to print it on paper. This page tells you how to do this, both directly, or through various other programs. Contents:

  • Printing various things on various printers
  • Names of the printers, setting your default printer
  • Checking the print queue, cancelling a job
  • Using an application’s “Print” command
  • How to print a Microsoft Word or Excel file
  • Printing various things on various printers

There are printers in the Dept. of Statistics office, in the PhD student office in Sidney Smith, in Biostatistics, and in the MSc student office at 1 Spadina.

These are all Postscript printers, which means that all files sent to them must be Postscript files. Other files must be converted to Postscript to be printed.

Fortunately, a set of commands are available for printing the most common types of files on printers in various locations, as follows:

            Ordinary text file    PostScript file    DVI file (Tex/Latex)

Stats Office (SS 6021):       stpr file… stps file… stpstex file…
PhD Student Office (SS 6026):     gpr file… gps file… gpstex file…
MSc Student Office (SP 209C):     mpr file… mps file… mpstex file…
Graduate Terminal Room (SS 5026C):     gpr2 file… gps2 file… gpstex2 file…
Biostatistics (MR):  biopr file… biops file… biopstex file…

All of the commands can print more than one file at once – just list them all, separated by spaces. All these commands except the pstex ones will print their “standard input” (eg, data “piped” from another program) if no file is specified. Each of these commands has a “duplex” form, which prints on both sides of the paper. These just have “duplex” added to the end of the command name – eg, stprduplex. Here are some more details on these print commands:

stpr, gpr, biopr, mpr, etc.

These commands print ordinary text files, such as you might create with a text editor.

stps, gps, biops, mps, etc.

These commands print files containing PostScript documents. PostScript files are usually given names that end in “.ps”.

stpstex, gpstex, biopstex, mpstex, etc.

These commands print DVI files, which are usually produced by running Tex or Latex. For example, if you have a Latex source file called “fred.tex”, running Latex (successfully) will produce a file called “fred.dvi”, which you can then print on the printer in the PhD student office with the command

gpstex fred

Note that you don’t need to include the “.dvi” part of the file name.

If you need to print a file that is not in one of these formats (which should be rare), then you will need to convert the file to Postscript yourself. The ImageMagick group of programs are good at doing many types of these conversions.

Names of the printers, setting your default printer

Each printer has a name that is used by fisher to send jobs to the correct location. There are some circumstances under which you will need to know these names.

spr_1 Stats office (SS 6021)
gpr_1 PhD student office (SS 6026)
mpr_1 MSc student office (SP 209C)
gpr2_1 Graduate Terminal Room (SS 5026C)
biopr_1 Biostatistics (MR)

Some printing commands or programs will assume that you are using your default printer, which is the Statistics office printer unless you change it. Your default printer can be set by altering your PRINTER environment variable. You can change your default printer by placing the following line in the file called .profile in your home directory:

export PRINTER=printer-name

General information about your .profile file is described in the section on setting Unix options in your .profile file.

Checking the print queue, cancelling a job

You can use the lpq command to see how many print jobs are queued up for a particular printer. With no arguments, lpq shows the queue for your default printer (the one in the main Dept. of Statistics office if you haven’t changed it). To see the queue for some other printer, use a command such as

lpq -Pbiopr_1

This shows the queue for the printer in Biostatistics (see the names of printers above).
If you send something to a printer by mistake, you can cancel it with the lprm command. The command

lprm -Pprinter –

will cancel all of your jobs for the specified printer (or your default printer, if you leave out the “-P” option). To cancel a specific print job, first use lpq to get a list of them, then cancel one in particular with the command

lprm -Pprinter job-number

where job-number is the number of the job as displayed by lpq.

Using an application’s “Print” command

The commands above are not the only way to print something. Many programs, such as netscape and ghostview, let you print things by selecting a “Print” option from a menu. What happens after you select “Print” will vary from program to program. Here are some hints for the more common programs:


Just hitting the “Print” button will print on the stats office printer. To print elsewhere, change the string “spr_1” that you should see in the “Print command” box to the name of some other printer. You do this by sweeping over the text with the mouse and typing in the new name.



You will need to enter the name of the printer you want to use. For example, if you wanted to print all or part of a Postscript document you are viewing, you would click on File, select one of the printing options, and enter the following in the Printer Name box:


Or enter one of gpr_1, biopr_1, mpr_1, etc. to access one of the other printers.

acroread – Printing PDF files

If you just hit “OK”, it will print on your default printer. To change this, add “-d name” to the end of the print command that should be visible, to specify the name of the printer to print on.
Note: you can also print a PDF file by converting it to a Postscript file using one of the following commands:

convert file.pdf
pdf2ps file.pdf

and then using one of stps, gps, biops, mps to print the Postscript file. It’s possible that using acroread will get you the best result.
Printing MS Word and Excel documents
You must open the document using a program that can display these file formats. The MS Office software itself may be installed on various Windows machines in the department (there are two in the Ph.D.’s office). Or, you can use Star Office on fisher as in the following example:

soffice spreadsheet.xls

To print, click File, select Print, and choose one of the printers from the list shown.

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