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Print preview in Netscape and IE

Posted on 2001-06-08
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I have a big html document  that has various sections(paragraphs).
I am trying to get all the sections printed on different pages when users click print.

When I add enough extra lines to make it friendly to netscape, IE shows them with sections overlapping in pages, and if I adjust it so that IE prints them well, netscape prints them  badly.

Is there any way to make sure that irrespective of browser used, just print only so many lines in one page?
Thanks for any help.
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Question by:rajasree
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by:webwoman
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No. If printing is important, don't use HTML. You have almost no control over how it prints, and you can't control where page breaks fall -- it depends on too many things, and you don't have control over them.

What size paper? What size font? Did they override your font settings? What browser? What version? What platform? How are their page margins set? What orientation? You don't know, and can't check -- the user can change any/all of those and not even reload the page.

If it has to print nicely, use a print format like PDF, or even a word processor format like RTF.

And don't expect form fields (especially dropdowns) to print right, or any effects, animations, flash, etc.
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by:TTom
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Agreed!

Somewhere along the line in the next generation or so of browsers (forget about backward compatibility issues) I believe there is support coming for stylesheets which can be applied only for print functions.  It's not there yet, and, as webwoman clearly states, there are too many variables which are out of your control on the client side.

Tom
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by:COBOLdinosaur
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If you have found an approach that give you acceptable printing for IE and a different approach that works for Netscrap, then set up browser specific version of the pages, and use browser detection to determine which you will load.

However WW is correct that you can't guarantee printing quality, you may have it set up so it works well on your computer, but it will only print that way for identical browser setups and printer setups.

Cd&
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by:rajasree
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The page I am dealing with is an employment application page on the web with the sections like Personal info, disclosure form, equal empl opportunity etc which applicants can fill in online and then do a print preview to print it out, sign it and fax it to us. So it cannot be pdf etc.  

And I have to make sure that we receive these sections in different pages so that we can file accordingly.  


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by:TTom
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Pushing you in a direction you may not want to go, it is very possible to produce a PDF file which allows the user to fill out information online and print a copy of the filled out form.  They could then sign and fax it off to you.

Just wanted you to be aware of the possibility.  It does, however, require a bit of work to create.  Less, though, than if you wanted a PDF form which could be filled out and submitted online.

Tom
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by:webwoman
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If you have to print and file it, you don't really have a choice -- it's going to have to be PDF, otherwise the user has about as much chance of getting it to print correctly as you do of winning the lottery (pick one -- any one ;-) )

I'd have two versions -- one a straight HTML one that got e-mailed in, and one that was a PDF for fax or conventional mail. And forget how it's going to print -- though you'd have better luck with an e-mail than an HTML page.

If you had a very, very, VERY standardized user base (like a totally controlled intranet) you MIGHT have a shot -- but with something that has to go out on the web, forget it.

Make it a PDF. I'm assuming you already have a print version you use? Scan it in, or get whoever designed it to make you a PDF version.
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by:TTom
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PDF is definitely the way to go.  It should take no more than an hour or so to set the PDF file up as a form you can fill out online.  Then print and mail/fax.  Especially if this is going to be a part of someone's personnel folder, you'd be foolish not to at least investigate that option.

Tom
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by:rajasree
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In the application form, I have radio buttons like "May we contact ur present employer Yes or No.
And I apologize I did not explain clearly before why we have all these different sections on the same page.
It used be on different pages earlier, and we found that some candidates did not fill in all the sections, and we could not process candidates who never filled the disclusure form.
This is the reason I made them all in the same page.

Now, there are some fields like Name, SSN, date etc which are common throughout these sections. So I used javascript to autopopulate all the name fields as soon as the candidate filled out the first one.  Did not want to put candidates through too much typing.  So I am stuck with html right?
Thanks for all your help.

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by:TTom
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Nope.

PDF supports a limited subset of JavaScript.  Although I am not completely familiar with its restrictions, I am confident that most of what you want to do could be accomplished within the limitations of JavaScript under PDF (i.e., using one field to populate another, certainly radio buttons, calculations, etc.).

Tom
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by:webwoman
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You definitely can do that with PDF -- but you can be pretty sure that the user isn't going to know that, and will use the PDF to just print out and fill in *by hand* then fax or mail.

That's why I'd make a standard HTML version just for e-mailing or entry into a database, and have the plain PDF version for the user to fill out by hand.

A PDF that's set up to be filled out doesn't necessarily look any different, and if you make it obviously something that's suppoosed to be filled out online, you'll have the same problems you have with an HTML form (though to a lesser extent) -- dropdowns won't print is the first thing that comes to mind -- and the more you make it specific for web use, the less useful it is for filling out as a hard copy.

Remember too -- even though it looks like a nice form ONSCREEN, even the PDF isn't going to print that way -- you'll get an E-MAIL with the info, NOT a PDF.
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TTom earned 50 total points
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Re: webwoman's comment

Mostly, I agree.  Skipping the problem of dropdown boxes (which will not print well), if you provide instructions to the user that they are to fill out the (PDF) file online and then print it, sign it, and mail/fax it to you, you should be OK.

Since the applicant is required to sign the form, email should not be an option.

Added benefit is that people who are not online savvy can still print the form, fill it out, sign it, and send it in.

Seems to me that's what the online tax services are doing these days.

Tom
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by:rajasree
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Thanks much to all of you.
I am just wondering if there is a way to divide points!
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by:TTom
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I believe you can ask Customer Service to do this.

Tom
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by:rajasree
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Excellent idea. I have already started reading Adobe help pages. I opened my html page in Adobe, and it was already converted to pdf format.
Thanks everyone for such valuable advises.
Cheers!
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by:TTom
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Most welcome!

Good luck!

Tom
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