aug 13

Printer Friendly

Random blogging etiquette observation: it's curious that bloggers almost never link to the "printer friendly" version of a story, when that version is more visually pleasing and usually advert-free. (Even more strangely, the only person I can think of who occasionally uses that link is Romenesko.) Is this actual courtesy, or mere convenience? And what would happen if every blogger started to suddenly change their seemingly good-willed linking practice?


Good observation. I tend to link to to the "Single Page" view of most NYT stories, except when I forget, which is probabaly the majority of the time.

On some pages, though, the problem with the printable version is that it doesn't always contain links back to the publication or to any good pictures or multimedia that goes along with the piece. I think that's the case for the Times, but I'm too lazy to check. But at any rate, sometimes you don't want to lose those links/content.

Oh, and any publication that employs Clickability software (The WSJ does, and there are others that I'm forgetting offhand) is blocked at work for me. Not the site itself, but the printable/emailable Clickability versions.

posted by katiebakes at 3:09 PM on August 13, 2008

I would guess that printer friendly version becomes a lot less friendly.

posted by rico at 3:28 PM on August 13, 2008

Same as Katie, I don't like taking the links away. Though I think this might be more perception then reality, I just did a quick check of and and for both when you do the print version their are links available back to the main site.

posted by Jake at 3:34 PM on August 13, 2008

Kottke does this -- link direct to the print versin -- all the time and I loooves it.

It's always so embarrassing when you accidentally link to like page three of a seven-page story... everybody knows you got that far, decided to link it up, and then probably stopped reading ;-)

(Everybody else has done that, right?)

posted by robin at 4:18 PM on August 13, 2008

On the printer friendly tip, I also find it incredibly aggrevating that so few blogs are printer friendly themselves. Like every Typepad blog on the planet does that thing where it prints the first page and the last page. Come on people, it's a simple CSS script ...

posted by Noah Brier at 4:28 PM on August 13, 2008

Alfredo Perez from Bookforum has done this for years. Pretty convenient as the links I find there I usually want to print

posted by joanne mcneil at 4:42 PM on August 13, 2008

He's not a blogger, but Drudge often links to printer-friendly versions of stories. In fact, I gained that habit as a result of reading the Drudge Report!

posted by Earnest at 4:56 PM on August 13, 2008

I typically don't link to printer-friendly versions for several reasons:

1.) Getting to the URL isn't easy sometimes. If the link actually runs a script that pops up a new window, then I don't want to waste my time finding out the URL.

2.) SEO. I figure good stories (ones worth linking to!) deserve to have their main article page indexed and ranked higher in Google for others to find. Most people will link to this page, not the printer-friendly version. Might as well follow the crowd.

3.) Supporting the site's ads. I hate web ads, but I realize that pageviews matter and supports the people who write/create these wonderful articles I link to. I figured if someone really is annoyed by ads, they'd have downloaded Firefox and installed AdBlock by now.

I do agree with comments above about multimedia and related links within the article's page, too.

posted by Kiyoshi Martinez at 5:59 PM on August 13, 2008

Agree with most of what's been said here. One observation is that on crappy newspaper websites where articles expire (, the link to the print version sometimes stays live after the article is yanked offline.

posted by alesh at 9:11 PM on August 13, 2008

I do sometimes link to the printer-friendly versions of articles but less often than I used to. Contributing factors: "single page" views are more common, some printer-friendly pages open up the printing function, finding the right URL is a pain (I'm looking at you here, New York Magazine...I'd link a lot more if they had a single page view or a non-outsourced, non-popup-window print page), printer-friendly links aren't necessarily permanent, and print pages sometimes strip away other relevant content and context. But when none of that applies, the printer-friendly page is the way to go.

As for why the big Gawker Media-style sites don't do it's not worth their time. It doesn't increase pageviews or visibility in search engines so why bother with when you've got 14 more posts to make before noon?

posted by jkottke at 9:23 PM on August 13, 2008

As other commenters have noted, printer-friendly pages will start getting loaded with ads as well. Either that, or they will stop accepting direct links and check the referrer link to make sure it comes from the main article page.

posted by Avner Kashtan at 3:50 AM on August 14, 2008

Didn't see a credit on your Doveman/Footlose post the other day. You discovered it completely independently a month after the rest of the internet? Clearly you are the Columbus to our Indians.

posted by Encyclopedia Frown at 9:30 AM on August 14, 2008

Yeah, thanks for showing up on my site to be an anon dick!

I read about it first in Entertainment Weekly. Yep, print. I think this site usually gets to things before the rest of the pack, but it clearly didn't in that case.

I deeply regret the error. You've exposed me as a phoney.

posted by Rex at 11:53 AM on August 14, 2008

I will link to the printer-friendly version if (a) it looks better or (b) if the point of the link is contained past the first page of the article. Often the printer-friendly version doesn't have an image, which makes it less aesthetically pleasing to call up. It's dorky that I think this way but I actually do.

posted by Rachel Sklar at 1:12 PM on August 14, 2008

I don't so much do it sometimes to avoid the ads but because those versions are one-page, as opposed to all the clicking.

posted by Chris Thilk at 4:20 PM on August 14, 2008

Rex, we're not all doing our online reading on an iPhone! For us desktop folks with our browsers set on full or 3/4 screen, the printer friendly pages are all but unreadable. The formatted page gives us the text in a manageable column layout.

BUT, if the WaPost and other national dailies don't end their insane policy of letting external servers place ads on their pages, I would be all for using printer page links only.

posted by Mark Gisleson at 11:53 AM on August 15, 2008

Kottke posts links to printer only pages, I think.

posted by Josh at 6:58 PM on August 15, 2008

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