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  • CSS for printing

    When you develop a website, do you generally include printer-friendly CSS stylesheets? Or only on special occasions? Or do you prefer some other method entirely?

    I made a print media CSS stylesheet recently. On one hand, I liked it because it was very lean, and I was able to reformat the page content without much extra html markup. I thought, "We should do this for every site!"

    But, on the other hand, I wonder what it's like from the users perspective. They don't have a way to know that the page will be formatted differently, unless they use print preview. Is it better, for usability, to have the conventional "printer-friendly" link that opens a new window? Seems chunky to me, but at least everything is clear to the user up front.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  • #2
    I think if one is looking for a "print style" format than it's generally understood that it's going to be bare bones html, and not styled like the normal page. The primary reason for a print style is to take an article to read for later, no? At least for me it is...

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    • #3
      You can also make the "print style" a link that just displays the page the way it would look if it were being printed that way. Sort of like a live, print preview.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by oncepure View Post
        You can also make the "print style" a link that just displays the page the way it would look if it were being printed that way. Sort of like a live, print preview.
        This can be done using PHP but it ain't easy. To do so, you have to create an array from which your text will be printed from (on the screen or to the printer). Prior, you also have to setup a MySQL database on the server. If you Google, you'll find several sites explaining how to.

        2 years ago, I have tried to setup this feature for a Web site I was working on. After going through Larry Ullman "PHP for the World Wide Web", and several tries, I didn't get any conclusive results. Alas my mind is more one of a designer than a programmer.

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        • #5
          I say just use the print stylesheet.

          When you print a page, the browser overrides a lot of stuff that affects the display, so users are used to getting a printed page that doesn't look like the one they saw on screen. By providing a print stylesheet, you can control what actually comes out of that printer and give the users a better result.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by hewligan View Post
            I say just use the print stylesheet.
            Hewligan, how do you setup the stylesheet for the printer? (just a few hints to get me going on the right track). I know its not a problem on a Mac but with IE on a PC,.. its a whole different story..

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            • #7
              Originally posted by lucdesaulniers View Post
              Hewligan, how do you setup the stylesheet for the printer? (just a few hints to get me going on the right track). I know its not a problem on a Mac but with IE on a PC,.. its a whole different story..
              http://www.alistapart.com/articles/goingtoprint/

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              • #8
                When you print a page, the browser overrides a lot of stuff that affects the display, so users are used to getting a printed page that doesn't look like the one they saw on screen.
                That makes a lot sense. I may be over-thinking this.

                Thanks for the link. That's more thorough than the reference I was using.

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                • #9
                  Ditto here. Thanks. I'll have a very close look at the link.

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                  • #10
                    this link: http://www.catswhocode.com/blog/how-to-creating-an-efficient-print-stylesheet

                    has some good how-to for creating page breaks in the print out-put...
                    Monarchs Rule!

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                    • #11
                      Humm. From what i read I would have to duplicate all the pages. The PHP solution, if I could implement it, would do it on the fly..

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lucdesaulniers View Post
                        Humm. From what i read I would have to duplicate all the pages. The PHP solution, if I could implement it, would do it on the fly..
                        Why would you duplicate all the pages?

                        The whole point is that you use media-specific CSS (using @media) to tell the browser to use some different CSS during printing. There's absolutely no duplicating pages involved.

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