Re: format html for book from web browser print selection?

Subject: Re: format html for book from web browser print selection?
From: Barry Campbell <barry -at- WEBVERANDA -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 16:16:01 -0400

At 12:33 PM 9/15/98 -0700, Lenore Weiss wrote:

>I have an online document that our customers access from different sites in
>the U.S.
>Occasionally, there is a need to print this document for onsite training.
>Does any one know of a way to have the browser print the html in book
>format so that the pages are
>formatted correctly? Printing the document now, some of the screen span two
>pages (uggh).

This is a nit, perhaps, but the pages are almost certainly
not formatted "incorrectly." My guess is that the browser
is rendering your HTML quite faithfully; it's just that the
results aren't what you expected. :-)

When you're dealing with HTML, you have little or no control
over many, many variables that you would need to control in
order to create and maintain a precise layout when the Web
page is printed.

For example (and this is only one variable), you can
instruct the latest releases of the major browsers to
display information in a certain font... but does the reader
have this font installed on her system? Has the reader set
up her *own* font preferences which will override your
formatting? (All browsers allow you to make these kinds of
modifications as a user... and you, as an author, cannot
override them.)

Trying to get HTML to format the same on every output device
is doomed to failure. You'll get slightly (or greatly!)
different results on each browser version and platform that
you try. It's a fundamental limitation of the language;
HTML was never designed to do page layout.

If you have a compelling need to control page layout to this
extent, create and distribute your docs in Adobe's Portable
Document Format (PDF).

PDF files can be printed on any PostScript printer, and you
can control the layout of each page quite precisely. PDF
files *do* require the (freely downloadable from Adobe's web
site) Acrobat Reader for viewing and printing, however.
They are acceptable for reading on screen (if you're careful
about design) and look great printed (ditto).

Hope this helps.

Barry Campbell | barry -at- webveranda -dot- com
Web Architect | (list/personal mail)
Summit Systems, Inc. | bcampbel -at- summithq -dot- com
22 Cortlandt Street | (business mail)
New York, NY 10007 |

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