When Printing Web Pages

Computer printer and computer scanner

Sometimes, as you "travel" around the Web, you may decide that you would like to keep a printed record of some pages in hard copy format. I know of at least one person who prints selected web pages and then gathers the various folios into a single spring-clip binder for easy reference later.

One way to avoid wasting printer ink is to omit printing unnecessary graphics. Here's how to ensure that you print the page content only.

Sidebar Update 2015 And Beyond: Rarely Is There A Need To Even Print Web Pages

Above and below, you're reading information that was written some years ago. While still valid, ideally, I recommend do not print web pages if you can avoid doing so. Why: the toxic inks can eventually leak into our environmental water and food chains, and of course, you can help reduce the paper mountain and keep more trees in the ground.

Arguably, a better choice than printing web pages is to use options like:

  • "Reader View" on Apple devices, in which you can easily read just the core information on a web page. Or ...
  • More web browsers now provide a "Reader View" equivalent. 
  • You can use apps like Instapaper to (for personal use) save just the text and graphics from a web page, to refer back to later. Or ...
  • If you really want a file on your device or stored somewhere under your control, you can save a web page as a PDF file.

All of these options allow you to view web page information in electronic formats without the need to print anything. That's why we no longer automatically include print buttons: so few users seem to need those now.

In addition, the more such buttons you include on your website, the longer pages take to download, and the less "clean" your web pages are. 

if You Absolutely Must Print A Web Page

If you print web pages without making a few simple tests first, you can end up using more (expensive) printer ink than you need. Here's how to minimise ink use to keep the focus on the content of the page rather that its appearance.

  • Before printing, look around the web page for buttons, links or labels with names like: Print, Print Format, or PDF. If you find one, choose the button, link or command to view that version of the page. Often, print or PDF versions of a web page contain only the text content — precisely what you need. Nevertheless, always check what the format of the page looks like on-screen before you print.
  • If you don't see Print or PDF buttons or links, the filtering of a content web page to remove unnecessary graphics may be done automatically. Therefore, simply choose your web browser Print Preview button to check if the web page is filtered for you. Often, web browsers provide a Print Preview button somewhere on their File menu. If what you see shows a version of the page with the page content intact and most of the various web design graphics removed, you know that the page is filtered automatically for you.
  • In a website does not provide Print or PDF buttons or commands, nor carries out automatic filtering of page make-up graphics, one other option is to check the Properties for your printer. Here's how: usually, when you choose the "Print ..." command from the web browser File menu, somewhere within the Print dialog box, you may see a Properties button. When you choose the Properties button, most likely there is an option to omit printing graphics.
  • Even better, if you use a tablet computer like an Apple iPad in combination with an app like Instapaper, you may not see the need to print any web pages ever again. You can simply save the core details of text and graphics on web pages you may choose, without any irrelevant content, providing a convenient reference resource.

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