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Printing with jsMath

Although jsMath tries to make printing pages that contain mathematics as easy as possible, there are some issues that you may need to be aware of.

First, for best results, you should download the jsMath TeX fonts from the font download page. If you are having trouble printing, this may well fix the problem for you.

If you are using jsMath with image fonts, there are a number of things that impact the quality of the output. (To find out if you are using image fonts, open the jsMath control panel by clicking on the "jsMath" button that is usually at the lower right-hand corner of your browser window; the font mode is listed just below the jsMath name and version number.) When image fonts are in effect, small images of each character are used rather than actual fonts on your computer. This makes for good screen results, but the printed output can look blocky, since the image sizes are appropriate for screen resolutions, not for printing. To overcome this problem, use the "Hi-res fonts for printing" button on the jsMath control panel to reload the page with higher-resolution versions of the images. These may not look so good on screen (particularly under Windows), but should make the printed output appear clearer. Once you have printed the page, you can reload it to go back to screen resolutions, or click a link to another page.

Some browsers may have problems printing the images that jsMath uses when the image fonts are selected. Most notably, Internet Explorer and Firefox on the PC do not handle the alpha-channel transparency that is used in the standard jsMath images very well, and can print these as black squares. You can switch to non-alpha-channel transparency by using the jsMath options panel (click on the "Options" button on the jsMath control panel and uncheck the "Use image alpha channels" checkbox). Note that selecting the hi-res printing option sets this automatically for Internet Explorer and Firefox on the PC, to make it easier to print with those browsers.

Finally, in some browsers, it may be necessary for you to select "Print backgrounds", or a similar setting, in your print dialog box. This is true for Apple's Safari browser, for example. Look in the print dialog box for browser-specific settings or advanced settings, and activate any option that indicates that it will print background images.

If you are viewing a page that uses sprite-based image fonts (you can tell because the version of jsMath listed at the top of the control panel will include "-sp" and a version number), then there may be additional printing issues. First, some characters may be clipped slightly due to the differences between screen and printer versions of the fonts. Second, print previewing in Firefox on the PC doesn't work properly with sprite-based image fonts, although the printout itself will be fine. Finally, for Opera users, you will need to turn on printing of background images (as described above). This will make printing work on the Mac, but on the PC, the wrong characters will be printed, even though everything looks fine in the print preview. There is currently no workaround for this.

If you are using jsMath in global mode, then there may be additional print issues. This is because global mode uses frames, and printing the main page (rather than the frame that contains the typeset document) can cause the printout to include only the portion of the document that is visible on screen rather than the whole document. There are several ways to overcome this. First, the jsMath control panel includes a "Print" button that will print just the frame containing the jsMath button; this may be the most convenient way to print the frame. Also, the jsMath Global Controls include a print button as well (see the global mode documentation for more details). Finally, you may be able to use a contextual menu in your browser to print only the selected frame; look for a "Print this frame" menu or a "Frames" submenu that contains a print command. (Click the right mouse button on a PC or CTRL-click on the Mac to obtain the contextual menu for your browser.)

See the known bugs page for more details on specific printing issues with specific browsers.

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Created: 14 Jun 2005
Last modified: 02 May 2006 12:13:02
Comments to: dpvc@union.edu
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