The Internet has its own special type of formatting that makes Web pages look good on the screen. That same formatting, however, doesn’t always look good when printed. Even when trying to cut and paste information from a Web page to a word processing document, the formatting can get in the way. Yet printing Web pages can be easier with a few simple tips and tricks.
Today many Web sites have a “Print” function right on the Web page. This is often available for articles, instructions, forms, and similar documents. Look for a button or the word “Print” on the top or bottom of the article. Using this button will print the Web page in plain text without the formatting. It will usually, but not always, keep the Web ads from printing, as well.
If the page you want to print does not have a print button, you can see what a Web page will look like when you print it, by using the Print Preview function that is in the File menu of your Web browser. If the Print Preview shows that the Web page is too wide or too long for the paper you can do a little cutting and pasting instead of printing the entire page.
If you simply cut and paste information from the Web page into an e-mail or word processing program, you will, more often than not, get the text inside the tables that are used to create the Web page. The text will be encased in square boxes, or tables, which are only an aggravation in a text document. You can use this little trick to eliminate the tables. Highlight the area of the Web page that you want to print by dragging your mouse across it. Press the Ctrl key and the C key at the same time to copy that information into the computer memory. Then open your word processing. Select Edit from the menu at the top of the screen. Now comes the trick. Instead of selecting Paste, choose Paste Special. Then, from the pop-up menu choose Unformatted Text. All the Web page text will appear, without the formatting. If you want to grab pictures along with the text when you use the Paste Special, choose Formatted Text. With this choice, you will see the Web page with pictures and some formatting. You may also get some unwanted links or address, but those can be easily deleted.
If you do copy some information from a Web page without using the Paste Special function and wind up with a lot of tables, you can drag the text that you want to preserve out of the table, then delete the table by highlighting it and clicking on Table from the menu. Then choose Table, and then Delete.
You also have some control over the way a Web page prints when you use the print function in your Web browser. Click on File, and then choose Page Setup. The choices here are limited, but you do get to pick the paper orientation, the margins and the paper size. Have you ever had the last few letters of each line cut off when you print a Web page? Of course, you can always cut and paste the information into your word processor as noted above. But a quick and easy solution is to change the paper orientation in the Page Setup menu from Portrait to Landscape.
Page Setup is also where you can set up your header and footer for printing Web pages. Whenever you print a Web page, the header appears on the top of the page and the footer appears on the bottom. The Header and Footer boxes are used to specify the information to be printed by using the text and variables. Unfortunately, the header and footer information is entered in cryptic programming-like language. In Internet Explorer, the typical header looks like this: &w&bPage &p of &P. This string of information prints the title of the Web page on the left hand side and Page x of y on the right side (where x is the page number and y is the total number of pages.) This is a typical footer &u&b&d which prints the url address of the Web page on the left hand side and the date on the right. If you looked closely at the header string, you might have figured out what some of the variables stand for. Here is a more complete list:
&w -- Web page title
&u -- Page address (URL)
&d Date in short format
&D -- Date in long format
&t -- Time in short format
T& -- Time in 24-hour format
&p -- Current page number
&P -- Total number of pages
&b -- Right-aligned text (following &b)
&b&b -- Centered text (between &b&b)
&& -- A single ampersand (&)
Fortunately once you decide what you want to print and wade through entering the variables, you will probably never have to reset the header and footer again. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to play with these header and footer strings. They are easy to change if you make a mistake and they can give you a little idea of what programming a computer is like.
There are also software programs available that can help you print Web pages quickly and easily. Some shareware programs and photo programs will do this for you. If you have an ink jet printer you may already have such a program. Check to see if any of the software that came with your printer will print Web pages. My favorite Web page printer is Easy-WebPrint, which comes with newer Canon printers. Easy-WebPrint automatically sizes Web pages for printing. It lets you print more than one page on a sheet. It even allows printing in draft mode and/or grayscale with one simple click.
So don’t be aggravated by Web pages that don’t print properly. With a little practice you can print want you want, just the way you want it.