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Creating Printer-Friendly Websites: A Step-by-Step Guide

December 8th, 2023

Print Friendly Website

Many web developers do not consider making their websites print friendly in the development process, and depending on your users and industry this can be a oversight which can cause headaches down the road. Creating a printer-friendly website ensures that your audience and internal staff can easily print and share your content on paper, ensuring your SEO content writing efforts are viewable by anyone at anytime. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to set up a website for hassle-free printing, making it easier to share in more formats.

Simplify the Design: When in the initial design stages of your website, opt for a clean and simple layout. Avoid cluttered designs with too many graphics or complex elements. A minimalistic approach not only enhances the user experience and follows SEO best practices, but also makes it easier for users to print your content without unnecessary distractions such as navigation menus, social media links, and more.

Use Print Stylesheets: Implementing print stylesheets allows you to control the appearance of your website when it is printed. Create a separate stylesheet specifically for printing and include it in your HTML code. Use this stylesheet to adjust font sizes, remove unnecessary elements, and optimize the layout for print.

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

Optimize Images for Print: Images that look great on a screen may not translate well to print. Ensure that images are high resolution and properly compressed for printing. Use image-editing tools to resize images to an appropriate print size. Additionally, consider using images in formats that are well-supported for print, such as JPEG or PNG. Optimizing your images also helps your overall SEO efforts ensuring fast page speeds across devices.

Choose Printer-Friendly Fonts: Select fonts that are easy to read on paper. Stick to standard web-safe fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, or Georgia. Avoid decorative or script fonts that may not render well in print. Define font sizes using relative units like em or percentages to ensure consistency across different devices and print settings.

Adjust Page Margins and Layout: Modify the page margins to create a well-structured layout that looks good on paper. Adjust the CSS styles for the print version to set appropriate margins and padding. Test the printed output to ensure that the content fits well on standard paper sizes and nothing gets cut off.

@media print {
  body {
    margin: 20mm;
  }
}

Remove Unnecessary Elements: Identify elements on your web pages that are not essential for print, such as navigation menus, social media buttons, or interactive widgets. Use CSS to hide or modify these elements specifically for the print version.

@media print {
  .no-print {
    display: none;
  }
}

Provide a Print-Friendly Button: Make it easy for users to find and initiate the printing process by including a dedicated “Print” button on your web pages. This button can trigger the print dialog and ensure that users are aware of the print-friendly version of your content.

<button onclick="window.print()">Print this page</button>

Test the Print Output: Before finalizing your website design, thoroughly test the print output on different devices and printers. Check for any formatting issues, such as text cutoffs or misplaced elements. Make adjustments as needed to ensure a consistent and professional print experience for your users.

Print Stylesheet Examples for Your Website

This example includes fundamental styles for improving readability and removing unnecessary elements that you can include in your websites stylesheet today.

@media print {
  body {
    font-size: 12pt;
    line-height: 1.6;
    color: #333;
    background-color: #fff;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;
  }

  a {
    color: #000;
    text-decoration: underline;
  }

  img {
    max-width: 100%;
  }

  .no-print {
    display: none;
  }
}

Optimizing Fonts: Specify print-friendly fonts and adjust their sizes for better readability on paper.

@media print {
  body {
    font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;
    font-size: 14pt;
  }

  h1 {
    font-size: 18pt;
  }

  p {
    margin-bottom: 10pt;
  }
}

Handling Page Breaks: Control page breaks to avoid awkward cutoffs.

@media print {
  h1, h2, h3 {
    page-break-after: avoid;
  }

  .page-break {
    page-break-before: always;
  }
}

Remember to test these styles in various browsers and adjust them according to your specific website structure and design.

Creating a printer-friendly website involves thoughtful design and optimization in the beginning stages of the web design process to enhance the usability of your content in print form. By implementing the steps outlined in this guide, you can provide your audience and internal staff with a seamless and enjoyable printing experience, extending the reach of your content beyond the monitor.

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