[thelist] Exact Printing of Sites (long-ish)

Sherri Fleming creativeswirl at gmail.com
Wed Dec 21 14:32:34 CST 2005

My prior employment I was asked to make everything printable as the target
audience for the web based application (it created student reports) is
teachers (K-12). BTW teachers tend to want to print EVERYTHING. In their
line of work everything is on paper.

I found that the variables between operating systems and the various
browsers and the default page margins etc meant that pages had to be very
narrow. Additionally if a table spanned across pages, depending upon the
content of the table, rows of information would be lost. It just would not
print a row or two and start again after them so even tables are not perfect
for printing.

Additionally some browsers will print certain things and others will not.
Also almost all browsers have by default the print background colors turned
off so as to help people save ink. You cannot force that option to be turned
on. Thus there is absolutely no way to force pages to print exactly like the
screen unless you can use scripting that will produce PDFs of the page on
the fly and that PDF then be printed.

I struggled frequently with the print issue and found the best you can do is
to just make all of the information needed be printable but never expect it
to print exactly. It is not possible. At least it is not possible until all
browsers produce the exact same results using the exact same code. I would
not hold my breath.


On 12/21/05, aardvark <evolt at roselli.org> wrote:
> On 21 Dec 2005 at 18:15, Jeffery To wrote:
> [...]
> > Second, is there a business case against exact printing? I have a
> > feeling that people only print webpages when they need to read the
> > content offline, but are there any statistics or studies on this? If I
> > can't make browsers print perfectly then I'm going to need numbers to
> > convince management.
> some anecdotal ones, based on client feedback, experience, and
> watching my parents... some of these are almost quotes...
> - hard-coded page widths can cause content to fall off the printed
> page on the right edge, or to be so narrow that paper is being
> wasted...
> - colors may look great on screen, but on my black-and-white laser or
> bubblejet, they can look pretty bad...
> - colors and large images may be pretty, but i really don't want to
> blow *all* of my cyan toner on your home page when i just want to get
> the address to hand to my secretary...
> - plug-ins don't always print so well...
> - depending on how font sizes are set, they can be way too big or way
> too small when printed...
> - depending how the page is coded, sometimes my header prints on one
> page, then my content starts on another page, and then my footer
> appears on its own page when i print it... i hate that waste of
> paper...
> - what good do links do me in print?
> - we have clients who use A4, and clients who use 8.5x11"... which
> one is correct?
> - why do images look all jaggy when i print them?
> and so on...
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