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Theme Designers And Print.CSS

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Here at WeblogToolsCollection, we see quite a bit of WordPress theme releases coming through our inbox and I’ve noticed a trend. Hardly any of them include printing support. The question I’d like to have answered is why? Is adding printer support to WordPress themes too hard? Does adding this feature take up time? Or is it that this feature is barely any use to anyone?

For those wanting to add this type of support to your theme, you can install WP-Print. WP-Print picks up where most theme authors have left off by providing printing support in such a way that end users can print either articles or comments, depending on how you have configured the plugin.

In fact, doing a search on the plugin database for the keyword of “print” brought up two pages worth of search results. Another solution for you theme authors out there is called Bunny’s Print CSS. This plugin provides two files, print-css.php which is the plugin file and print.css which is the print stylesheet.

A link to the print stylesheet will be placed in your theme’s header, providing it uses the wp_head() function/hook. An admin panel is added to the Presentations menu and it will allow you to edit the stylesheet if you make print.css writeable. You probably want to edit the stylesheet provided to your liking, though it will hopefully do most of the job if your theme is sandbox-based.

This method takes most of the hard work out of creating a print.css file, even though theme authors would most likely have to modify the stylesheet to make it compatible with their theme.

For those who would like to manually create the style sheet, there is an article on the Codex entitled “Styling For Print” which covers all of the basics necessary to make a pretty, yet functional print stylesheet to include with your theme/themes.

I hope that by linking to the Codex article and bringing this issue to light, we will start to see more themes being released with built in printing support. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but I’d rather see themes that support this feature than those that don’t. My personal opinion is that, printing support is a nice finishing touch to round off any theme, and having it built in allows me and a number of other users to stop using another plugin.

Now it’s time for you to sound off. Is this a trivial issue, or is there anyone else out there that would like to see this feature in more themes?

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30
Responses

 

Comments

  1. Mike Robinson (3 comments.) says:

    It really doesn’t take that long to set one up, just hide what people don’t need to see in the print-off (like comment forms) and make the colours a bit more ink friendly!

  2. John Kolbert (23 comments.) says:

    It’s really a non-issue for me. I can’t even remember the last time I physically printed an article. Though I suppose having the option for those that do might be nice.

  3. Luis Cruz (1 comments.) says:

    I first learned about print.css when I found it on Mimbo, the theme I have installed on my blog. Since my site has a dark background, the print stylsheet definitely helps cut down on ink usage.

    I personally don’t print a lot of posts, but I definitely think having a printer-friendly stylesheet is a good thing.

  4. Flick (20 comments.) says:

    Good point, Jeff! :D I don’t think it’s a trivial issue at all, because I always find that when I do need to print off an article, unless it’s a major journal site (which comes with ‘Print’ support) I always have to format it further before it prints out to an ideal format, so it’s great if theme authors could consider building in this function in the future.

  5. Andrew (31 comments.) says:

    I think in this environmentally conscious world we should be doing all we can to discourage printing information.

  6. Jim Hutchinson (1 comments.) says:

    I would rather have a function that prints to PDF if it was properly formatted and retained the hyperlinks. That way the articles can be categorized for future reference and have a link to return to the site later. Great articles could become viral with PDF, versus passing around a sheet of paper.

  7. Ben Eastaugh (19 comments.) says:

    Print styles aren’t difficult to add, but they do require a bit of finesse. Eric Meyer’s Going to Print article for ALA should be a touchstone for anyone writing a print stylesheet.

  8. Monika (40 comments.) says:

    lol Andrew ,

    if you would like to safe our world -kick off your pc not books ;)

    sometimes articles are good, but I can’t read them online because the theme is fullsice and so text lines are very hard to read, so I have to print out.

    I hate videos online and podcasts true, because I can read ;)

    I love print.css and for my customers I do it,but if I design a WP Theme for free I don’t. People kill my backlink, say mostly no *thank you* why should I give more than necessary

    (this sounds “hard”, but I can’t explain it better in english)

    regards

  9. Michael Zahora (1 comments.) says:

    @Jim Hutchinson – I agree, print to PDF with hyperlinks is perfect. It can become a viral marketing piece and doesn’t even need to be printed and the user can store it on their own computer for future reference.

  10. Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

    I’ve been listening to you Jeff. I know you’ve mentioned this a few times. In my latest blog post, I announced that I’d be adding print stylesheets with both my new theme updates.

  11. Jeff Chandler (295 comments.) says:

    Heh, cool beans Justin. I wasn’t sure if this was a concerning issue or not but felt as though it was worth brining up. It’s not the end of the world of a theme doesn’t have printing support built in since there is a plugin available, but I would be glad to see more themes having the support built in from the start.

  12. Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

    One question for you Jeff or anyone else that wants to respond. What’s your take on displaying comments for printing, hide or show?

  13. Jeff Chandler (295 comments.) says:

    @Justin Well, the way the plugin works, user’s can select the option to allow people to print comments, links and or images. There is also a text field to allow users to apply a copyright to the text that is displayed once the content is printed. Are these features feasible via CSS? If not, perhaps the versatility of the plugin is the way to go and this entire argument is a moot point.

  14. Carson says:

    So Andrew, you’ve bought into the simplistic argument that reducing paper usage will save trees. Actually reducing paper usage is more likely to reduce the amount of trees grown. Most trees used to make paper are grown by private land owners. If the market for those trees goes sour those land owners won’t replant trees after they are harvested. They will divert the land to something more profitable — like growing houses. I know. I’m one of those private tree farmers.

  15. Dhruva Sagar (15 comments.) says:

    In my opinion the issue is trivial, but that’s all the more reason why theme authors should incorporate them into the themes.
    Sometimes we do come across very well written articles or even comments that give us a lot of insight! or perhaps even enlightenment! I would really want to print such articles if I came across them, it would be nice to be able to do that…

  16. Kerry (12 comments.) says:

    The Create/Print to PDF would be an awesome function for a post. Joomla has had this option since inception. But Lester Chan’s WP-Print & WP-Email are priceless if you need print or e-mail functionality in a theme that doesn’t have it.

  17. Andrew (31 comments.) says:

    Carson, that’s interesting, I didn’t know that.

  18. Myo Kyaw Htun (8 comments.) says:

    All of my free wordpress themes I created are printable. That’s what I want most to see from other wordpress theme developers.

  19. Rob Mason (1 comments.) says:

    It’s a quality issue. Like cross-browser support it should just be done, not argument.

  20. Kim says:

    Thanks for the link to the plugins. I’ll check them both out.

    I would like to see theme authors include a print stylesheet with their themes. Whether it is environmentally correct to print an article or not is not the decision of the theme author or the blogger – it’s the decision of the reader, and we should provide them with that ability.

    The option to Create/Print to PDF option would be great to include as well – gives the readers another choice if they want to keep a copy of an article.

  21. Ian Stewart (28 comments.) says:

    My latest theme project has a print stylesheet. I agree that it should sorta just be there. Tough thing about a print stylesheet for a WordPress theme: it’s forgettable. Not that theme authors will forget about it. Nope. It’s the end users I worry about. The ones that modify their themes. It’s easy to destroy a carefully prepared print stylesheet and render it useless by changing the code it’s resetting and restyling for the printer.

  22. Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

    I think I’ll leave comments displayed in the print stylesheet because anyone that’s printing an article can choose how many pages to print. That’s unless anyone has any arguments for why this should not be done.

    @Jeff
    I really think the plugin is irrelevant to a theme author when talking about adding print.css to a theme as not all users will be using the plugin. Theme authors will definitely not go the extra mile when adding extra admin functionality for printing. I would for a custom job but not a typical theme.

  23. Monika (40 comments.) says:

    Hi Justin you have asked:”What’s your take on displaying comments for printing, hide or show?”

    By my own domain it is different: at webdesign-in.de I hide comments, texto.de I show them, because there are often necessary answers.
    Both have a print.css . But I hide allways navigation,logo and “last read on you domain article”, formulars and something else.

    regards
    Monika

  24. Josh (1 comments.) says:

    What’s a printer? :)

  25. GaMerZ (31 comments.) says:

    Thanks so much Jeff for the mentioned =D

  26. Andreas (19 comments.) says:

    I included print.css in my first couple of website templates (before I got into making WP-themes). Some people praised it, others got mad. The overall impression was that the majority of the people who contacted me wanted to use the default browser print style – and after having a number of long discussions about this two years ago I simply decided to leave print.css out of the designs – and later on also the themes. Not because I dislike the idea of including print styles, but because most people still don’t know how to use it in a good way. Besides, printing features in the browsers are getting evolving as well, today making it possible to filter out unwanted content in the same way that a basic print.css does. In my opinion, it would be a nice addition to any theme. I still use print styles a lot in custom designs where prints needs a certain and customized look. But for public themes and templates today, I prefer to not include it any longer.

  27. Ben Eastaugh (19 comments.) says:

    @Ian: in general I try to dissuade end users from modifying themes. Amongst other problems, it makes updates really hard to apply (and consequently puts them off doing this). Unfortunately the default advice to users when they don’t like something about a theme has always been “hack it”. In my view it’s much better provide an API (which WordPress makes it simple to add), but that often seems beyond both users and theme developers.

  28. Michael (7 comments.) says:

    I really wish more WordPress blogs would use WP-Print, I currently don’t but that is only because my posts are generally not that long, but a lot of blogs that post longer articles need to have printer friendly pages.



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