Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cures for the Common Bad Printout

Because I see folks getting frustrated with bad photocopies of Internet pages, email messages, and photos on a daily basis, I decided to put together a brief illustrated tutorial on how to avoid certain types of printing errors.

E-mail Printouts

One of the more common printing annoyances are printouts from e-mail providers such as Yahoo! which cut off the end of sentences. Here is an illustrated example:
Though the print is small in this example, you can see that on the left hand side are all the graphics from your Yahoo! screen & on the right, the text of the message has been cut off. The reason for this is that, while I had wanted to print the email message, what I have actually done is printed the screen image. This is most likely because I used the drop down File - Print option or printer icon or word "print" on the window toolbar to print.

Fortunately, most e-mail providers offer a simple solution to this problem. Yahoo! mail remedies this through a feature called printable view. Printable view is located on the far right within each e-mail message. Clicking on printable view in Yahoo! will reopen the message in another window. Reopening the message in a new window will eliminate the Yahoo! screen graphics on the left side. Example: A comparison of these type examples will show that about half of the message was printed using the File -- Print or icon print image on the windows page.

Article Printouts
Another potential source of bad printouts is articles from databases. Most of these databases too provide means for opening articles in separate windows, allowing a person to avoid printing the screen image rather than the article content.

Here is an example of a poor printout of an on-line Sports Illustrated article I found using Marvel! & searching under Academic Search Premier:What this printout is providing is the screen image for the record I found, not the content of the article I'm hoping to print. Again, drop down File - Print option or printer icon or word "print" on the window toolbar to print.

Most databases have solved this problem in a much similar way that e-mail providers have. On the screen of the record of which I'm looking, there is a printer image & printer (i.e. )written next to it. Clicking on this print will lead you to a print of the same record that would look like this:This print has eliminated the peripherial & irrelevant images from the previous print, focusing instead on the written content I wanted printed.

Website Printing

A quick look at a few sites I visit revealed that many approach printing of content in a similar way to databases. That is to say, the Bangor Daily News, for example, also provides a "print this article" link on the page of each major story which will either open the article in another window or will reformat the article into a printer-friendly version. ESPN.com, CNN.com, Entertainment Weekly.com ... all of these & more provide links on the screen to printer-friendly versions of on-line content.

What do you do, then, when this printer-friendly link is not available or content on a page is not well-organized or as specific as individual articles or e-mail messages? This is a little trickier.

Most webpage designers demonstrate the good sense & design to keep most of the content of a page within a reasonable left to right margin. In other words, most well-designed webpages will not have a horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the page. This means the only scrolling a person would have to do to read content on a screen would be up & down scrolling.

Still, even with reasonable side to side margins, selecting print from the drop-down file menu or the onscreen printer icon sometimes will not be successful in making a good print. For example, this is an example of print that gets cut off on the side from a typical website:
As you can see, the image & text has been sliced on the right hand side, omitting the ends of sentences, essentially making worthless the entire print job.

To remedy this type of printing error, you will need to go into the drop-down file menu in the upper left hand corner in the screen. On this menu, select Page Setup. The default setting for most printers is to print in Portrait mode, which means the print will be on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch page with the 8 1/2 inches being the page horizon & the 11 inches being the vertical.

Too try to uncomplicate this, here's a picture of a typical Page Setup menu, with Portrait printing as the default:And here is the Page Setup menu in Landscape mode: Landscape mode turns the page on its side. This often nullifies printouts that have chopped off the end of horizontal lines.
Here is the same webpage as above, printed in landscaped mode:

Recapping & Summing Up

Opting to print an e-mail message or database or website article using the Print option within the message or article is always a more reliable means of getting a good printout.

The drop-down File - Print menu & the printer icon on the tool bar essentially only print the image on the screen, often using margins that will not match the desired area you wish to print.

Often, changing the default printer setting from Portrait to Landscape may be necessary to ensure all relevant data gets printed.

One last tip: Double-checking your print job by using Print Preview is always a good idea. Print Preview is located on the drop-down File menu in the top left corner of the screen.

If you have any questions about this information, please feel welcome to e-mail me at playne@bpl.lib.me.us or you may simply respond to this post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is rather interesting for me to read this article. Thank author for it. I like such topics and anything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

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