W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > October 2007

Re: Printing Backgrounds

From: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>
Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2007 11:24:32 +0100
Message-ID: <47076260.2020008@david-woolley.me.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

Brad Kemper wrote:
> If you have any sway over how browser publishers implement features, how 
> about you just get them to print what is specified? I really hate that 

That violates some basic principles of CSS: that there is a balance 
between author and consumer in the way that the content is presented; 
and that documents should still work well on devices that are physically 
incapable (including through age) of honouring some, or all of the style 

If you want something that gives very limited (but, especially as the 
result of legislation, growing) user control, use PDF.  It has rather 
different design principles from HTML/CSS, and ones which are much more 
based on the commercial want for absolute control of the user 
experience.  Also consider SVG, which is a complete presentational language.

> they think they know better than me what vital design elements should 

Vital elements should never be in backgrounds, as they must still be 
there when all styling (which includes backgrounds) content is removed. 
  Yes, this does mean that you cannot absolutely rely on non-verbal 
emotive content.

> print or not, and break the default printing of that design according to 

A good designer adapts to the medium.  Unfortunately, a lot of web 
design (and other software development) is done by people who want to 
force the medium to work their way.

> their own blanket presuppositions about my  designs. The average browser 
> user usually has no idea that setting is even there. Why stop there? As 

Which means that the browser's default user style sheet (conceptually 
these menu options on browsers are simply an easier way for the user to 
modify elements of the user style sheet) needs to reflect what is most 
likely that the user would have wanted if they were aware of the 

In particular, it needs to take account of the average, significant 
site, web page designer, who never even thinks that a page may get 
printed (I find printing pages often very frustrating, and have to 
resort to print selection to even stand some chance of getting them on 
the paper).

The suggestion of changing the behaviour when print media is specified 
was based on the idea that it indicates the rare case of a designer that 
does think about printing (although it could just be a corporate 
standard to include the @media section, which does not influence the 

> long as they are deciding to chop out my background images in a way that 
> neither the designer or end user would appreciate, they might as well 

Users will often appreciate the image being chopped out, as it wastes 
ink or toner and, especially when printing to monochrome, may make it 
difficult to read the content.  I have been aware of the options for a 
very long time, and I have rarely, if ever, wanted the background printed.

> chop out my foreground images yoo, and then why not my border and font 

Web pages should tolerate loss of foreground images as well, because 
people do use text only browser and search engine abstracts, and may 
even suppress images for bandwidth reasons, particularly on mobile 
devices.  And, of course, the page may be accessed by someone who cannot 
perceive images, or is in a situation where it is unsafe to look at them.

David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.
Received on Saturday, 6 October 2007 10:25:22 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Monday, 2 May 2016 14:27:31 UTC