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How to Troubleshoot Print Style Sheets: Common Problems and Solutions

If any of you have played around with a print style style sheet on a complex theme or site you might already be familiar with the fact that print CSS does not always operate the way you would expect or desire. If you have not yet experienced the familiar urge to ram your head through your computer screen, I hope to save you from that experience with a few tips and tricks I picked up while learning to troubleshoot print style sheets.

Before we jump in, I want to ensure you’ve got some useful tools right off the bat to help set you up for success.

What you need

First, make sure you’re working on a browser that allows you to turn on a print emulator. This will make troubleshooting go a lot faster. However, be forewarned, while the print emulator shows the elements you will be printing and their style sheet rules, it does not necessarily visually represent perfectly what the printed page will actually look like. Frequently check your changes by either printing or viewing/downloading them as a PDF to confirm you’re getting the desired results. You will be sorely disappointed to get things pixel perfect in an emulator only to discover the printed result is vastly different.

Additionally, make sure your browser’s print scale is set to 100%. While you don’t have control over what your users will do with their browsers, there is a good chance many users won’t have changed their browser print settings. Therefore, you want to save yourself any headaches where you think you’ve developed correctly only to discover that you had been in the wrong scale.

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I pretty much exclusively develop on Chrome and then check on other browsers to ensure things are working as desired. This Stack Overflow will show you how to turn on Chrome’s print emulator in various different chrome versions. Google “Print Emulator [browser name]” if you prefer to work in something besides Chrome.

Below is a list of issues I have commonly faced and some solutions that rectified them. I hope they can save you time and hours of googling or shooting in the dark.

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