Help:Print versions

The aim of Wikibooks is to create useful books. Sometimes people want to print a book. This is not easy because books at Wikibooks are divided into chapters on separate pages. However, anyone knowing how to use templates can easily create a print version of a book by automatically including all contents of a book onto a single page. Furthermore, with all content of a book on a single page, it is easier to create a PDF version of this book. This can be done automatically, for example using or the "Print to file" feature of your browser (either to a PDF or PostScript file — the PS is easily converted to PDF later).

Not every book needs a print version — lots of books here are useful only online. But if you feel one might need to get a book printed — be bold and create it. See Category:Books with print version for a list of books that already have a single page version for continuous reading. Many of these may also be available as PDF Files.

How to create print version edit

Generally, it is a good solution to learn from examples. See Python Programming/Print version and read these quick guidelines.

Creating separate page for print version edit

In brief:

  1. Create the page SomeBookName/Print version (for a book called SomeBookName), containing only one line: "{{printable}}" (without quotes). Hit the "Publish changes" button.
  2. Start editing the table of contents of the book. Typically it's the main page of the book (for example, Python Programming). Just before the line with the link to the first page of contents of the book, add the line "{{Print version}}" (without the quotes, but with the squiggly brackets). Hit the "Publish changes" button.
  3. From the table of contents of the book, find where it now says "A printable version of SomeBookName is available", click that link, and make sure it goes to the page you created in step 1.

Creating separate page for print version (Older, manual approach) edit

Many books have a "Print version" created in the years before the {{printable}} template existed, following a process something like:

  1. Create the page Book/Print version (for a book called Book) and link to it from the TOC
  2. Insert the {{print version notice|Book|Book/Print_version}} template to the top of the book's Print version page.
  3. Copy the TOC as an ordered list
  4. Insert every chapter like a template, preceded by the chapter's title. Remember to include a chapter with the list of authors.
    = Chapter name =
    {{:Book/Chapter name}}

Do not cut-and-paste any text from a book to its print version (except TOC).

Preparing a book edit

No navigational templates used in a book should be printed. Check this using the "Print preview" function of your browser. To prevent a block of text from being printed, cover it with <div class="noprint"> ... </div>. Use class="notice" or class="notice metadata" for cleanup templates like {{stub}}, {{cleanup}}; or <noinclude> ... </noinclude>. Similarly, if you want some content to be displayed only in the print version but not at normal reading, use <includeonly> ... </includeonly>. Note that text inside this tag won't be visible in the page preview during editing, so you may want to copy it to Wikibooks:Sandbox, edit it there and copy it back.

Linking from the book edit

Make a visible link to the print version from the book's cover or table of contents. You can simply insert the {{print version}} template in the page Book if the page of the printed version is Book/Print version to create a box like the one shown. If you make your own links, it's a good practice to have a direct link to the edit page for the print version. Then, people who want to change something in the print version won't have to wait until the whole book is loaded to click the "edit" button. Some books have multiple printable versions; link to each of them from the book's table of contents -- see Help:Local manuals of style#Print versions.

Lengthy print versions edit

Sometimes print versions become too lengthy—in such cases, you should divide it into parts: Book/Print version/Part 1, Book/Print version/Part 2.

Copyright problems edit

Using fair use images in a book may mean that it can't be printed in many countries that don't have a fair use copyright law, and even in countries that do, books printed with fair use images may have restrictions placed upon them. For example, there may be restrictions upon commercial sale of the book (for profit or not). Because of this, always avoid fair use images if possible and try to replace them by free ones (you might try to search Wikimedia Commons).

If you have to include fair use images, consider excluding them from print versions of the book. For example, you can exclude images with the noprint markup as explained above.

Note that many "free" images require an attribution to their authors. In online Wikibooks, this requirement is fulfilled by the link from each image to its description page. In printed books, however, you have to add an explicit attribution for these images. In fact, it's a good practice to include an attribution for all images.

Use of printed books edit

You can freely use, copy and sell printed Wikibooks. You don't have to get authors' agreements or share profit with them (see details). Remember that Wikibooks has copyrighted content, and the copyright is owned by the contributors, not the Wikimedia Foundation. You can freely copy and use this copyrighted content because the authors have already given you permission to use it under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and GNU Free Documentation License. Please read that license carefully if you plan on distributing Wikibooks content for the terms of use.

If you want to have the content available under different terms, you have to contact all of the contributors to the Wikibook for permission, which may present some problems if you can't get ahold of some of them. A very few Wikibooks are also available under a dual-licensing arrangement subject to different terms as well. This should be clearly marked and noted on the front page of the Wikibook.

PDF versions edit

Simple rudimentary PDF edit

It's easy to create a rudimentary PDF file from a print version.

  • You can use freely available software like or PDFCreator, and proprietary software such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat.
  • You can also select "Download as PDF" from the Print/export section of the left sidebar on all pages on Wikibooks. This uses mw:Extension:ElectronPdfService.

Unfortunately the "print versions" do not contain proper pagination. Pagination, paginated tables of contents and indexes are added by editing the print version with a word processor and creating a PDF File.

PDF with pagination edit


  • Use your web browser to open and save the print version to your own computer as "web page complete"
  • use the HTML-compatible word processor of your choice to open the html file, convert html to a format the word processor, and add paginate the book.
    • In Microsoft Word, this can be done by
      • opening the saved HTML file
      • saving it to a word file
      • adding table of content by selecting Insert > Field > Index and Tables > TOC or Preferences-> Table of contents for Word 2012 or later.
      • adding page numbers to the footer
      • save it to a pdf file

The word-processed document can then be converted to PDF using or PDFCreator.

Tips: cut the book into numerous small HTML files using 'Wordpad' as a text editor if it will not convert to your word processor format. This allows you to locate offending sections etc. Small books can be copied to the clipboard and then pasted into your word processor. (see Talk for more tips).

Also a ready to publish "print version" takes as much effort as creating the book in the first place. There is an entire field out there, including Typesetting and Desktop Publishing, that deals with the subject. And there are dedicated programs like Adobe InDesign, Scribus, and LaTeX/TeX that are specifically made for the task of typesetting. Microsoft Word is suitable for the task, but anyone who plans on doing it in the long term will appreciate the advanced features like kerning, ligatures, word stretching and automatic quality justification algorithms that these programs offer. For example, LaTeX automatically generates Table of Contents and Indices for you.

MediaWiki to LaTeX edit

More than 75 % of books with PDF version currently available on the English Wikibooks have got a PDF version created with MediaWiki to LaTeX. Thanks to LaTeX the quality is comparable to professionally printed books.

Upload and Link the pdf files edit

PDF files can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons just like images. But remember: don't link to PDF like this: [[File:File.pdf]]. This causes the entire PDF to be downloaded when loading the page. Use [[:File:File.pdf]] — this will link to the PDF's description page — or [[Media:File.pdf]] for a direct download link. Remember to tag the file as GFDL and include the edition number in the comment. Also remember not to use a simple URL link to download the PDF, because the PDF will be shown in unused images list. Instead, use Media: link (for instance: [[Media:Special_Relativity.pdf]]).

PDF files could previously be uploaded to Wikibooks but new files are now uploaded to Commons. If there is an existing PDF file in Wikibooks, this can be updated by the creator but not other users. If a different user wants to update a PDF file, the existing Wikibooks version will need to be deleted by an administrator for [[:File:file.pdf]] to point to the new version. Alternatively, the new PDF file can be given a different name.

A collection of a book's pages can be downloaded on-demand as a PDF file as well. See Help:Collections for details.

To add a link to your wikibook page, insert

{{PDF version|pdf file name without .pdf|size kb, number pages|description}}

For example

{{PDF version|Ada Programming|2,663 kb, 243 pages|Ada Programming}}

Tips on PDF versions edit

Some lingo first of all. 12 points to a pica, 6 pica to an inch. Points usually measure vertical distance, pica usually measure horizontal distance. For example, the height of fonts are measured in points. Size 12 Roman font is about 12 points high. The width of columns are usually measured in pica.

  • Golden Rule: Rules in layout and art ain't rules. If it looks good, then do it. Think of these as guidelines if you don't know where to start.
  • Keep things consistent. Use templates in GUI based programs like Word or InDesign, or use macros in LaTeX to keep pages as a whole consistent.
    • Keep consistent spacing between lines. Usually 120% of the size of the font is used for paragraph reading. For example, size 12 font is spaced by ~14 points. Size 14 font would be spaced by ~16 points. Headlines, nameplates, and so forth don't follow this rule. Only body-text.
    • When there is a picture, make sure the space between the words and the start of the picture is consistent. If it is inlined with the text, make sure all 3 or 4 sides of the picture are consistently spaced from the text. If the picture has its own space, say, centered with a caption, make sure the caption is consistently placed, along with the spaces away from the text above the picture as well as below.
  • Don't do full justification unless it looks good! When you do full justification with an inadequate program, you easily can get "rivers" of whitespace that is distracting for the reader. Programs with better justification algorithms, like LaTeX or InDesign may still mess up if the columns are too narrow. The best solution is usually to change the wording of the paragraph, but switching to ragged right or increasing the column width helps as well.
  • Hyphenation should only occur in full justification (both left side and right side lined up). Hyphenation in ragged right looks strange, and thoughts and words can get lost as the reader looks for the next line.
  • Don't bold too many things. Bold can get in the way of your text in ways that softer italic emphasis doesn't. It is fine to bold headlines or other attention grabbers, but in the body text, try with soft italics first.
  • If doing a complicated layout, try the 5 column layout (don't actually use 5 columns. Maybe merge the right 3, and merge the 2 left side columns for notes. Or merge 3 columns to inline a picture in the middle of the page), or the artists rule of 3 to create a layout.
  • Know the difference between the hyphen, endash, and emdash. Emdash is the longest, and is used in as a punctuation mark. Endash is used as "to" between numbers. Hyphens are usually the shortest and connect words between lines and compound words.
  • Finally: Read the PDF when you are done! Frequent trouble spots are tables, pictures, and the text around large headings. Keep an eye out for widows and orphans, or words on their own lines, or on the next page when a paragraph ends. Don't be afraid to change the words of a paragraph to fit the layout, in fact, it has to be done frequently.

Tools edit