We’ve all done it at some point: attempted to print out an interesting blog page only to watch in dismay as our printer shot out the entire screen, banner ads and all, sometimes cutting off important information. Before taking a screenshot or copying and pasting the article information into a separate word processing document to print, try these options to print a clean page directly from the blog itself.
Look for a Printer-Friendly Option
Some blogs have printer-friendly versions, so look for a Print link. Google’s Blogger service, for example, offers a handy piece of code that site authors can add to make their pages and articles easier to print.
Use Browser Add-Ons
You can download an add-on for Firefox called Aardvark that allows you to alter the appearance of Web-page content in a browser page without changing the source code itself. You can view the source code for each element, making it helpful for Web developers analyzing a page’s structure. Aardvark also lets you strip out the parts of a page–such as banner ads and large images–that you don’t want to print. You can even remove fixed-width settings to prevent the printer from chopping off half of a useful sentence. However, removing everything you don’t want can take a while on Web pages that have a lot of extra content because, unless you need only one part of the page, you will need to select each item you want to remove. You may also need to mess with fixed widths to make a page fit on a sheet of paper. Some pages are fairly modular, though: Facebook, for example, organizes itself nicely once the extra elements are removed.
As an alternative to Aardvark, HP offers a Smart Web Printing widget that allows you to print only what you want from a page. It is compatible with Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, and 8 and does not require an HP printer to use.
Configure Your Print Options
You can also select exactly what you want to print without any add-ons. This works best when you just have a block of text and perhaps a small graphic that you want to print. To print selectively, first select the parts of the page you wish to print and bring up the print dialog window. Under Print Range, choose Selection. When you click OK, you will print only the selected text and images.
Printing just the information you want doesn’t need to be a chore or a waste of ink. You can get the recipes, philosophical musings, or how-to articles you need on paper with only a little extra effort, saving ink and paper to print what you really want.