Too Many Pages Need a Diet

December 14th, 2005

The web page that’s too wide to print is one of my prime gripes. The most irritating pages are those that look like they’ll print, but when you get the paper off the printer, the words are clipped at the rightmost edge. The cause often seems to have one of two causes: fixed-width page where the width is simply set too large, or pages with wide embedded images, where the image width forces the overall page to be too wide. Sometimes the problem occurs with three-column layouts, but that’s often not too bad because the interesting content is usally in the center column.

On Mozilla and Firefox, you can choose the “Shrink To Fit Page Width” option under the Page Setup dialog. This works well where the page is just a little too wide, but when the page wants to be too wide, the shrinkage causes the text to be too small to read. If that doesn’t work, Jay’s suggestion of printing in landscape mode works well.

By the way, some pages will fool you. The first time I tried to print Bruce Schneier’s cryptogram newsletter from his web page, I was a little irritated because he didn’t supply a printable version. I hate printing pages with a three-column layout, because the left and right columns are usually uninteresting; to print them wastes both ink and paper. Schneier’s page has a three-column layout, but when printed it’s only the center column that shows up. How did he do that?

That’s when I did some further research into CSS and discovered that parts of your web page can be tagged as “for display only” so they show up on your web browser, but not on your printer. I later used this feature on my own web site when I redesigned it this past Spring.

One Response to “Too Many Pages Need a Diet”

  1. Gngr (Ginger) Says:

    So, don’t be stingy, what’s the code to use? :)