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Rachel Andrew is a web developer, writer and speaker. If you mention printing with CSS to many people who work on the web, print style sheets are the use that comes to mind. We are all well used to creating a style sheet that is called upon when a web document is printed. However, CSS is also being used to format books, catalogs and brochures — content that may never have been designed to be a web page at all.
However, Prince has a free version that can be used for non-commercial use, making it a good tool to try out these examples. HTML becomes a handy format to standardize on, far easier to deal with than having everything in a Word document or a traditional desktop publishing package. The biggest difference, and conceptual shift, is that printed documents refer to a page model that is of a fixed size. Whereas on the web we are constantly reminded that we have no idea of the size of the viewport, in print the fixed size of each page has a bearing on everything that we do.
Due to this fixed page size, we have to consider our document as a collection of pages, paged media, rather than the continuous media that is a web page. Paged media introduces concepts that make no sense on the web.
You might need to create cross-references and footnotes, indexes and tables of content from your document. You could import the document into a desktop publishing package and create all of this by hand, however, the work would then need redoing the next time you update the copy. This is where CSS comes in, whose specifications are designed for use in creating paged media. Much of the CSS you already know will be useful for formatting for print. The page rule lets you specify various aspects of a page box.
For example, you will want to specify the dimensions of your pages. The rule below specifies a default page size of 5. If you intend to print a book, perhaps by a print-on-demand service, then finding out the sizes you can use is important. Before going any further, we should understand how the page model for paged media works, because it behaves somewhat differently to how things work on screen.
The page model defines a page area and then 16 surrounding margin boxes. You can control the size of the page area and the size of the margin between the edge of the page area and the end of the page itself. The table in the specification explains very well how these boxes are sized. When it runs out of room, another page will be created. The margin boxes are used only for CSS-generated content. Another aspect of the page model is that it defines pseudo-class selectors for the left and right pages of your document.
Two other pseudo-class selectors are defined. The :first selector targets the first page of a document. In the last example, we used CSS-generated content to add the text to the top-center margin box.
As you will discover, generated content is vitally important to creating our book. For example, if we want to add the title of the book to the bottom-left margin box of right-hand pages, we would do this using generated content.
As already described, once the content fills a page area, it will move onto a new page. If a heading has just been written to the page, you might end up with a page that finishes with a heading, with the related content beginning on the next page.
In a printed book, you would try to avoid this situation. Other places you might want to avoid a break are in the middle of a table and between a figure and its caption. Starting a new chapter of a book with an h1 heading is common. To force this heading to always be the beginning of a page, set page-break-before to always. Books are all about numbering things — pages, chapters, even figures.
We can actually add these numbers via CSS, saving us from having to renumber everything because we decided to, say, add a new figure partway through a chapter. We do this using CSS counters. The obvious place to start is with page numbers. CSS gives us a predefined page counter; it starts at 1 and increments with every new page.
In your style sheet, you would use this counter as the value of generated content, to put the page counter in one of your margin boxes. In the example below, we are adding page numbers to the bottom-right of right-hand pages and the bottom-left of left-hand pages. This counter will always be the total number of pages in your document. You can create your own named counters and increment and reset them as you require.
To create a counter, use the counter-reset property, increment it with counter-increment. The CSS rules below will create a counter for chapters named chapternum and increment it with each h1 — being the start of a chapter in this book. We can do the same for figures in the book. A common way to number figures is to use chapternum. On the h1 , we could reset figurenum in order that it starts from 1 for each chapter.
Take a look at a printed book again. We do this using a property named string-set in the selector that we want to take the content from. For the chapter title, this would be the h1. The value of string-set is the name you would like to give this content and then content. You can then output this as generated content using string.
When your paged media is generated, each time an h1 occurs, the content is written to doctitle and then outputted in the top-right margin box of right-hand pages, changing only when another h1 occurs.
The way footnotes work is that you would add the text of your footnote inline, wrapped in HTML tags probably a span , with a class to identify it as a footnote. In your CSS, use the footnote value of the float property to create a rule for your footnote class. Footnotes have a predefined counter that behaves in the same way as the page counter.
Typically, you will want to increment the counter by 1 each time a fn class occurs and reset it at the beginning of each chapter. The various parts of a footnote can be targeted with CSS pseudo-elements. The footnote-call is the numeric anchor in the text that indicates there is a footnote. This uses the value of the footnote counter as generated content.
The footnote-marker is the numeric marker placed in front of the footnote text in the footer of your document. These behave in a similar way to the numbers generated for an ordered list in CSS. The footnotes themselves are placed in the margin, within a special area of the page named footnote. You would target and style that area as follows.
On the web, we cross-reference things by adding links. In a book or other printed document, you would normally refer to the page number where that reference is to be found. Because page numbers might change according to the format that the book is printed in — and between editions — doing this with CSS saves us from having to go through and change all of the numbers.
We use another new property, target-counter , to add these numbers. Start by creating links in your document, giving them an href , which is the ID of the element in the document that you want to target.
Then, after the link, use generated content again to output page x , where x is the number of the location in the book where that ID can be found. They make more sense once you put them to use by building a book. Currently, very few things implement this specification well; the one that is most accessible is Prince.
A standalone commercial license for Prince is expensive, however, you may use Prince free of charge for non-commercial projects.
This means that if you just want to try out these techniques, you can. Additionally, if you do have non-commercial uses for this technology, you may use Prince to format those books.
If you want to experiment with the CSS and build the book yourself, then you will need to download and install Prince. This will create a PDF in the builds folder named book. Before the chapters, which start with an h1 , I have a div that contains the cover image, and then the table of contents for the book.
The CSS then uses all of the things we have described so far. To start, we need to set up a size for the book using the page rule. We then use the :first pseudo-class selector to remove the margin on page 1, because this page will have the cover image.
Next, we deal with the specifics of the left- and right-hand pages, using the :right and :left spread pseudo-classes. The next section of the style sheet deals with counters. In addition to the preset page counter, we are defining counters for chapters and figures. We then add some rules to control where pages break. You need to be fairly careful about being too heavy handed with this.
If your book has a lot of tables and figures, then adding many specific rules here could cause a lot of long gaps in the book. Experimenting and testing will show how far you can take the control of breaks. I have found the rules below to be a good starting point.
Remember that this is a suggestion to the user agent. Finally, we style the table of contents, and we use an interesting trick here. When describing cross-references, I explained how we use target-counter to display the page number that the ID is on. The rule below puts the page number after the link to each chapter in the table of contents. Commonly in books, however, you would use leader dots to line up all of the page numbers against the right margin.
Amazingly, CSS gives us a way to do this, by adding leader before the number in the generated content. We now have a complete style sheet with which to build our book.
Created By BootstrapCreative. These concepts are the basis of Indigo responsive web design. Download the responsive web design cheat sheet, print ready. Grade Levels. A CSS cheat sheet is often used by web developers because it assists you with remembering each element of code, providing you with a reference.
What is HTML? HTML is the code used to build web pages. It includes a series of tags that tell the web browsers how to structure the content on your web page. It is basically a series of simple commands and it is easy to learn. You'll become familiar with these three related terms: Elements, Tags and Attributes. But these files cannot become the elegant web pages that you see online… without the help of a web browser.
Rachel Andrew is a web developer, writer and speaker. Many web applications have the requirement of giving the user the ability to download something in PDF format. In the case of applications such as e-commerce stores , those PDFs have to be created using dynamic data, and be available immediately to the user. If you have a favorite tool or any experiences of your own to share, please add them to the comments below. In the case of an invoice, the user might be able to view the information online, then click to download a PDF for their records. You might be creating packing slips; once again, the information is already held within the system. You want to format that in a nice way for download and printing.
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Rachel Andrew is a web developer, writer and speaker. If you mention printing with CSS to many people who work on the web, print style sheets are the use that comes to mind. We are all well used to creating a style sheet that is called upon when a web document is printed. However, CSS is also being used to format books, catalogs and brochures — content that may never have been designed to be a web page at all. However, Prince has a free version that can be used for non-commercial use, making it a good tool to try out these examples.
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