A guest post by James Adams, editor and contributor to the CreativeCloud blog.
Plugins to Optimize Your Blog for Printing
Quick Online Tips and HP suggest using plugins designed to make your blog printer-friendly. A few popular plugins that omit unnecessary information from the printout are: PrintWhatYouLike, PrintFriendly, Cleanprint and HP Smart Web Printing. VoucherPress adds functionality to your blog to print custom business content for your consumer.
PrintWhatYouLike is a free plugin that will automatically format your WordPress blog for printing and allows users to save the blog in a .pdf format. You can also sign up for a free account and customize how you would like your blog to print.
2) PrintFriendly (WordPress version 1.5 or higher)
PrintFriendly adds a “printer friendly” and a “.pdf” button to your blog so that users can use to create a printer-friendly version and save paper and ink by customizing which areas of the blog are included in the printout. It is free.
3) Cleanprint (WordPress version 2.0.2 to 3.0.1)
Cleanprint is another free plugin that allows the user to customize which areas of the blog are printed. This plugin is unique, however, because it allows the blog to be printed in a professional “magazine-like” format with logos and headers intact, but optimized for a printed format of the blog. One drawback is that it is only compatible with selected WordPress themes.
4) VoucherPress (WordPress version 2.8 to 3.0.1)
The VoucherPress is a free plugin allows you to create and print customizable certificates and vouchers and to collect visitor e-mail addresses for your database. It can be customized to contain unique offer numbers for tracking and the user can set expiration dates for each offer once a particular number of visitors have downloaded a certificate or voucher from your blog.
5) HP Smart Web Printing (Blogger and Drupal compatible)
HP Smart Web Printing is an Internet Explorer plugin that converts your blog into a .pdf format where users can choose which areas of the blog are included on the page.
Printer-Friendly Blog Design Tips
Your blog may look organized when you view it on the web, but have you ever tried to print out pages from your blog? Most blog themes have been designed and optimized for viewing online, but when visitors want to print pages to read later, they end up with an unreadable mess. With a few simple modifications to your blog design, you can create an eye-pleasing format that is readable online and in print.
1) Add a CSS style sheet
Marketing Tech Blog and WordPress for Style recommend adding a print.css style sheet to your blog. You can choose which areas to display and change the text formatting and the margins of the page. The style sheet code will need to be added to the header of each page of your blog.
2) Change the margins
The Search Written usability blog suggests changing the margins of the page within the print version of your blog to maximize printable area and save paper and printer ink for your blog readers.
3) List the URL for links
It is also helpful to set your print version up to print out the URL for links on your blog entries since you can’t “click” on the page once it is printed! You can also list the URL as a footer in the printed version if you don’t want the URL to interfere with the text readability of your print out.
4) “Un-float” tables
Going to Print recommends “un-floating” tables in your HTML for printed versions of your blog, this prevents blog areas from printing across two different pages.
5) Set the page background to white and table backgrounds to transparent
Another great tip from Going to Print is to set all background colors to “white” and all table backgrounds to “transparent” in the print version of the blog to save ink and increase text legibility.
It is easy to make your blog printer-friendly with a few easy modifications to your design and the use of clever plugins that make your blog look professional and optimize the visitor’s experience when printing your blog pages so that they will want to return again and again.