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In general, printing a Wikipedia page is as simple as selecting print from your web browser.

The MediaWiki software that Wikipedia runs on uses Cascading Style Sheets in order to specify the style and layout of the printable version of a page. In modern browsers, the print function of the browser should automatically use the rules in the style sheets when you print an article, therefore the print command of your web browser is all you normally need to use.

Certain page elements normally do not print; these include section edit links, navigation boxes, message boxes and metadata.[1]

Printable version

The default Vector skin has a selection in the left sidebar for 'Printable version'. This printable version is often misunderstood, as it is not exactly a print preview. It does not show page numbers, headers and footers applied by your browser. For a proper print preview, use the one supplied by your browser.

Printable version is not needed for any modern browser, as these browsers will parse the media="print" CSS styles included in the markup of Wikipedia pages. The print rules are applied automatically when the page is printed or previewed from the browser.

Older browsers do not automatically apply print rules when using the browser print feature. These browsers include these versions and older:[2]

  • Internet Explorer 3.0 for Windows
  • Internet Explorer 4.01 for Mac
  • Netscape Navigator 4.73
  • Firefox 5 and lower

Printable version does not apply @media print rules from user style sheets— see below.

The print stylesheets are called by link elements on every Wikipedia page such as:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/skins-1.5/common/commonPrint.css?207xx" type="text/css" media="print" />

Older browsers do not support <link media= "print">, thus they will ignore this statement and will not automatically apply the printing rules. For these browsers, the printable version is useful. These browsers include these versions and older:[3]

  • Internet Explorer 6
  • Netscape Navigator 4

Plain text

The Printable version does not contain embedded links or other HTML markup, thus it can be used as a source to cleanly copy and paste into other documents.


The base MediaWiki print style sheet is at This style sheet can be edited only by the developers.

The Wikipedia specific print style sheet is at MediaWiki:Print.css. This style sheet can supplement and override the base; it can be edited by admins.


MediaWiki:Print.css defines certain classes that are non-printable, specifically navbox, infobox.sisterproject, editlink, noprint, metadata, dablink. For example: since {{navbox}} uses the navbox class, any elements based on it will not print.

@media print

CSS media types define the rules for different types of presentation media. The normal display uses @media screen rules; printing rules can be defined with defined @media print.

Controlling print


When creating a new element that should not print, the noprint class can be applied; for example:

<span class="noprint">foo</span>

Here, the content foo would display, but not print. You can also use {{noprint}}, a template wrapper for the noprint class. Some other templates, such as {{unprintworthy-inline}}, also include the noprint class.

Conversely, for an element that should print but not show on the display, use the printonly class:

<span class="printonly">foo</span>

This is normally applied to linked citation numbers and document IDs.

To use or display elements only in PDF or book print rendering, you can use the templates {{Hide in print}} and {{Only in print}}.

Personal customization

Readers with accounts can modify their Special:MyPage/skin.css to customize their individual printing experience. Remember that rules using @media print will show— or not show if that is the intent —in print preview but not printable version.

Print URLs for references in citation templates
/* print URLs for references */
# content cite a.external.text:after {display: inline;}
  • Note: URLs will always print for references that do not use citation templates
Do not print references
/* do not print references */
@media print {
    ol.references {display: none;}
Change the print font size
/* save ink and paper with very small fonts */
@media print {
    body { font-size: 8pt !important; }
    h1 { font-size: 17pt }
    h2 { font-size: 14pt }
    h3 { font-size: 11pt }
    h4 { font-size: 9pt }
    h5 { font-size: 8pt }
    h6 {
        font-size: 8pt;
        font-weight: normal;
space above title, remove "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia", URL, categories, modification text and license text
/* Remove non-essential elements */
@media print {
    .firstHeading { margin-top: 0; padding-top: 0; }
    #siteSub { display: none; }
    .printfooter { display: none; }
    #catlinks, .catlinks { display: none; }
    #footer { display: none; }


Blank pages in Internet Explorer


When printing with Internet Explorer 7, some pages may be blank except for the header and footer; this can be seen in the browser print preview.

  • Issues: The style sheets have rules to adjust the line height for improved readability with superscript and subscript text, including references. IE7 apparently has problems with the line-height CSS property. This issue appears to be resolved in Internet Explorer 8 and above.
  • Fix:
@media print {
sup, sub, p, .documentDescription { line-height: normal; }


It is possible to include links to the printable version of a page. Such links should not be needed in articles, and the use elsewhere should consider the actual need and limitations.

The link to the printable page is of the format:

A link to the printable version of a page can be created by using


See also


  1. The rationale for not printing navigation boxes is that these items contain wikilinks that are of no use to print readers.[1] There are two problems with this rationale: First, other wikilink content does print, for example See also and succession boxes. Second, navigation boxes do contain useful information regarding the relationship of the article to the subjects of related articles.
  2. "CSS print media browser conformance". Code Style. Retrieved 11 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Assigning external CSS > link". Retrieved 9 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • "Media types". Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 Revision 1 (CSS 2.1) Specification. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Retrieved 8 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>