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Printing web pages

Web pages often print poorly - what can you do about it?

Unless a web page is being regularly updated and you need a record of a particular version, ask yourself whether you really need a printout.

Risks

  • Printing will almost certainly not preserve the layout of the page as viewed in a full browser window.
  • Pages with light text on a dark background may print out completely blank.
  • The browser often avoids putting a page break in the middle of paragraphs and some other types of content - you may get lots of blank space.
  • Large graphics may not be printed in their entirety if they are wider than the printed page.
  • The fields that have been completed in an online form do not always get printed.

Tips

  • Always use the Print Preview option to see how many sheets will be required to print a web page.
  • Use the Scale option in the Print Preview to
    • reduce the number of sheets needed to print the page
    • to ensure that everything on the page will be printed.
  • Use the Page Range option in the Print dialog if you do not to need the whole page.
  • If a web page offers a "print this page" option or is available as an Adobe Acrobat file (PDF), use that version for printing.

Workarounds

  • If you need a copy but you don't actually need it on paper, you could just save the page to disk:
    In Firefox, select File | Save page as and select Web page, complete from the Save as type drop-down list at the bottom of the dialog. This saves the page in the folder you choose, and any graphics etc, in a subfolder.
    If you now open this file in your word processor, you will be able to print it. The layout will probably look different, but all the content will be present.
  • If it's a relatively simple page, you could use the mouse to select all the content, then copy and paste it into an empty word processor document. However, many web sites use tables to control the layout, and you may need to adjust the width of the columns to get all the page content displayed on the page.
  • If you only need to print a small part of the page, you can print a selection:
    1. Select the section of the page you want to print
    2. From the File menu select Print
    3. In the Print dialog, click the Selection button.
  • If you find you're having to print out many long documents, then you should request hard copy from your tutor - departments are not supposed make entire classes print out course materials, as it is extremely wasteful compared to getting them printed by Print Services.

Refunds

  • IT Services will not refund printing charges simply because a web page has failed to print satisfactorily.

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Content last modified: 05 Jun 2013

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