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Create printer-friendly web pages



Create printer-friendly web pages

 

Reading from a computer screen is uncomfortable, so users may often want to print the page they're viewing. The problem is that web pages don't usually lend themselves to print.

Unless your web page width is 600 pixels or less, chances are that your page copy will not fit in the printed page, and important information will be cropped-out.

However, as we've pointed out before, limiting your web pages to a width of 600 pixels translates into sub-optimal use of your visitor's screen real estate, since the majority of web users nowadays employ screen resolutions of 800x600 or higher.

A better option is to specify your page width in percentage terms, for example: 100%. This way your web page will adapt to whatever width your printer is set up to, and your copy will not be cropped- out.

But this solution has two drawbacks:

Your page layout may be modified in ways you never intended, as a consequence of lines of text having to wrap up to accommodate your printer's width and margin parameters.
Your printed page will still show all those unwanted navigation menus and banner ads.
All of which takes us to our preferred solution: if your web page presents important content that your visitors will most likely want to print, create a link to a printer-friendly version of your page.

A printer-friendly page should follow these simple guidelines:

The page width should be specified in percentage terms (100% or less), so that it will automatically adjust to your printer's page width and margin parameters.

It should have a small version of your logo (or the name of your website in plain text) at the top left, hyperlinked to your homepage, so that your visitors have an easy way to go back to your website after printing the article.

With the exception of your logo, the page should contain only text, which should be left justified, to facilitate reading.

If the page features an article, it should include the author's resource box and the URL of the original version of the article.

Your original page should contain a link pointing to your printer- friendly page at a visible location. The standard practice is to include a text link next to a simple icon of a printer.
Although creating printer-friendly versions of your pages will lead to the duplication of some of your content, your visitors' user experience will be significantly enhanced.

Furthermore, you don't have to worry about taking up significant web server space and bandwidth, since your printer-friendly pages will be text-only.

Finally, you don't need to create printer-friendly versions of all your web pages, only of those which your visitors will most likely want to print, for example: articles, how-to tips, confirmation pages, instructions pages, and product specification sheets.


About the Author

Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest (http://www.theinternetdigest.net), an online collection of web design and Internet marketing articles and resources. You can freely reprint his weekly articles in your website, ezine, newsletter or ebook.


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