Print Style Sheets

01-print-stylesheetYou’ve seen it before: you designed a beautiful layout and someone walks into your office with a print off and you cringe at the site of your hard work horrifically misrepresented by the printer.

Printed versions of a web design are rarely what you’d expect. They take some additional tweaking and some staging. But, an understanding of how to set up a print view so that content comes out as expected is not too tough once you get the hang of it.

In this article, I’ll show you how to set up a stylesheet just for printing off your content on a website. I’ll be using a WordPress site as a starting point, because it’s such a popular framework, but this will work for any site so long as you apply the same principles.

Quick note: there’s no easy way to make web to print perfect. You have to jump in there and work through each element you want to tailor. I start by going to a page and printing it to see what I’m starting with. Then, I break each element or structural section down by what I need and what needs to change. It takes time, but it’s worth it.

Do You Need a Print Version?

The first thing I ask myself before building out a printed version of a site is whether or not I even need one. The meticulous designer in me tends to kick in and I lean towards “yes” in most cases. But, often there’s just not a need for a print stylesheet, depending on the nature and purpose of your website.

Also, when people print a page off your site, what is their goal? Often, they just want your content in hand and that’s all — they don’t want all the graphics, pretty layouts, headers, sidebars, and the like. (And, they may not want to use their expensive ink on nonessential elements.) So, consider what is actually needed.

Print Considerations

I always convert my text to black so that the printer understands that no shading is necessary (which is a big ink saver). I also change over from font sizes in pixels to points. If you’re trying to match font sizes, this can be a bit of a challenge, but here’s a slick chart to help you convert quickly from px to pt assuming you have a base font size of 16px:

  • Pixels => Points
  • 6px => 5pt
  • 7px => 5pt
  • 8px => 6pt
  • 9px => 7pt
  • 10px => 8pt
  • 11px => 8pt
  • 12px => 9pt
  • 13px => 10pt
  • 14px => 11pt
  • 15px => 11pt
  • 16px => 12pt
  • 17px => 13pt
  • 18px => 14pt
  • 19px => 14pt
  • 20px => 15pt
  • 21px => 16pt
  • 22px => 17pt
  • 23px => 17pt
  • 24px => 18pt

Targeting Your Content

Interesting facts
  • ENZK was a punk and hardcore fanzine from Scotland. 10 issues have been published to date. It was based on DIY ethics and non profit, low cost ideals.
    It was written by Graham ENZK and the first issue was published in 1989. It was originally laid out using a mixture of type and handwriting within the traditional punk cut and paste style, later...
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