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Printing with Style

, 23 Sep 2003
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Make your web pages printer-friendly.

Introduction

There're a lot of techniques used on the net to create nice looking prints from web pages. Some take a copy of the pages and remove unwanted elements manually, some do it by opening a new print-friendly page using a server side script (ASP, PHP, Perl, ...). I prefer doing it with style Smile | :)

Style

Doing it with style is simple and elegant; you create a separate style sheet with elements suited for print:

  • Set the background to white (background:#ffffff;)
  • Underline links (text-decoration:underline), and maybe color them blue for users with a color printer
  • Hide unwanted parts using display:none;

You attach the style sheet using:

<head>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="..." media="print" />
</head>

media="print" (IE 4+, Netscape 6+ and Opera 3.62+) tells the browser to use this only when you print the page.

This is how I attach my print.css.

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" 
   href="css/print.css" media="print" />

You can test it by printing one of my pages, if you print my Links page you'll also see how I append external links (IE 6+ only):

body { 
    color : #000000; 
    background : #ffffff; 
    font-family : verdana,arial,sans-serif;
    font-size : 12pt;  
}
h2 {
    font-size : 14pt;
}
a { 
    text-decoration : underline; 
    color : #0000ff; 
}

#logo,#head,#menu,#tail,#printicon, {
    display : none;
}

#appendedlinks {
    page-break-before: always 
}

Append external links

A nice feature is to append all external links in the webpage, to the print document. This is implemented on my pages using the following JavaScript:

// 
// IE only: attach eventhandlers.
// They trigger when a user  prints a web page; 
//     From File->Print, File->Print Preview or
//     by executing a window.print() command 
//
window.onbeforeprint=beforePrint
window.onafterprint=afterPrint

function beforePrint() {
    appendlinks(content);
}

function afterPrint() {
    removelinks(appendedlinks);
}


//
// Generic print function, called from the web page
//
function printContent() {
    if (window.print) {
           window.print();
    } else {
        alert("your browser doesn't support this function")
    }
}


// 
// When appending links to the document, do not 
// append links pointing to the following domains / sites
//

var excludedomains=["soderlind.no", "soderlind.org","localhost"]
var excludedomains=excludedomains.join("|")
rexcludedomains=new RegExp(excludedomains, "i")

//
// appendlinks(id)
// id = id of the part of the web page you want to extract links from
//      ex: document.body
//

function appendlinks(id){
    
    var strD = "<p/>";
    var num = 0;
    if (document.getElementById){
        var links=id.getElementsByTagName("A")    
        var total=links.length
        strD += "<dl id=\"appendedlinks\" border=0>"
        strD += "<dt><h2>Links extracted from the document:</h2></dt>"
        for (i=0;i<total;i++){
            if (links[i].hostname.search(rexcludedomains)==-1 
                && links[i].href.indexOf("http:")!=-1) {
                strD += '<dt>'+links[i].innerText+'</dt>'
                strD += '<dd>'+links[i]+'</dd>'
                num++;
            }
        }
        strD += "</dl>"

        if (id.insertAdjacentHTML && num>0)
            id.insertAdjacentHTML("beforeEnd",strD);
    }
}

//
// removelinks(id)
// After the print job is done, remove the appended links from the document
// id = appendedlinks
//
function removelinks(id) {
    if (document.getElementById){
        id.removeNode(true);
    }
}

Have fun coding (and printing).

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here

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About the Author

Per S
Web Developer
Norway Norway
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralIs it possible to define print preferences in window.print() Pinmembercodrakon17-Mar-06 3:52 
GeneralIE 6.0.2900.2180 PinmemberDregor18-Dec-05 1:36 
Hello
 
i tryed this code but id doesn't work with my IE 6.0.2900.2180, but if i use firefox it works. Does it not work with IE?
 
hope somebody can help me, i need to use the IE, not Firefox.
 
regards
Generala lot of great css ebooks in http://www.ebook5.com PinsussAnonymous12-Aug-05 1:36 
GeneralPrintig defined area Pinmembertauchert26-Apr-05 3:45 
GeneralIt was very useful PinmemberTanGkaK7-Apr-05 15:47 
Generalprint landscape &amp; page break w/ Style PinmemberCZIU5-May-04 12:34 
GeneralRe: print landscape &amp; page break w/ Style PinsussQuetininha28-May-04 6:27 
GeneralRe: print landscape &amp; page break w/ Style PinsussAnonymous29-Jul-04 11:35 
GeneralRe: print landscape &amp; page break w/ Style Pinmembermjjvol21-Sep-04 2:29 
GeneralPlease help me~ Pinmembercharcoalc5-May-04 1:50 
GeneralRe: Please help me~ PinsussAnonymous24-Sep-04 8:14 
GeneralPrinting with more Style PinsussPer Søderlind10-Mar-04 5:43 
GeneralRe: Printing with more Style PinsussPer Søderlind10-Mar-04 5:49 
GeneralPrinting without page headers Pinmemberkrixerx1-Oct-03 21:24 
GeneralRe: Printing without page headers PinmemberDheth2-Oct-03 4:42 
GeneralRe: Printing without page headers PinmemberStephen Quattlebaum16-Oct-03 7:39 
GeneralRe: Printing without page headers PinmemberDheth16-Oct-03 21:46 
GeneralRe: Printing without page headers PinsussAnonymous26-Aug-04 4:21 
GeneralRe: Printing without page headers PinsussAnonymous3-Sep-04 10:44 
GeneralRe: Printing without page headers PinmemberIn-Active6-Apr-05 10:09 
GeneralVery useful PinmemberJohn Cardinal23-Sep-03 16:36 
GeneralGreate! And, fun to se some one from Norway in here. PinmemberJonas Follesø18-Sep-03 10:48 
GeneralRe: Greate! And, fun to se some one from Norway in here. PinmemberPer Soderlind18-Sep-03 15:25 
GeneralRe: Greate! And, fun to se some one from Norway in here. PinmemberE.Data Studios24-Sep-03 14:54 
GeneralWell Done PinmemberBlake Coverett18-Sep-03 9:25 

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