I'm not an expert but I have just had a quick look (in Word 97) and I don't think you can. (In word 97 I went format>background>fill effects and had a play around in that which is similar to what you are trying to do, I think).
I think that these functions are for designing web pages and therefore don't print off.
Of course (as with all things to do with computers!) I may way off here , but at least this will bump you up the list. I'm going off to have a play around now and see if I can find the answer!
trying to do exactly as you have GroupFC & I dont think it can be done either; if you do as Cook2 says it brings up the background but it cant be printed off which is why I was stumped.
really long winded way was to print off paper with a background by,
word, insert,pic,clip art,backgrounds, then I chose a background & inserted disc, selected insert clip & dragged to size, then chose save as,
printed it;reinserted paper back in printer type letter & printed it off
I thought there must be a simple way to do it from the format, background, fill effects, etc otherwise I can't see why that is there if it cant be used for that purpose unless it's as you say its just for web pages, will leave this running to see if anyone knows if it can be done.
I may be wrong here but under options, print tab, 'print background options' means printing in the background i.e. while you're doing something else on the puter. Look up background printing in Word help. If I'm wrong I'm still in my dressing gown drinking 1st cup of tea-not awake.