How To Fix Webpage Prints Garbage Characters

You may encounter a situation where a particular webpage displays perfectly on screen when browsing but trying to print it results in pages full of garbage characters spewing from your printer. Printing from other webpages and emails or documents works fine, it’s just one website that causes a problem.

What Causes Garbage Characters to be Printed? It is probably caused by the particular font used by that webpage – less popular websites such as personal webpages set up by individuals (or very small businesses) are the main culprits as they are more likely to use custom (non-standard) fonts whereas popular large websites will have been created by a professional web designer.

Your web browser may be able to understand and display custom and non-standard fonts (so the page looks good on screen) but printers are often more fussy – if they don’t recognize the font then they can’t print the characters and may start printing garbage instead…

There are two methods to fix this problem – the first is the easiest so try that. If printing still produces garbage characters then move on to the second solution.

Fix 1 – Disable Custom Website Fonts – You can instruct your web browser to ignore custom fonts in all webpages and always use standard fonts that your printer will recognize. Instructions on how to do this in popular web browsers are below:

  • IE (Internet Explorer) – in the menu bar click on Tools \ Internet Options \ General tab \ Accessibility \ and tick the ‘Ignore font styles specified on webpages’ box then press OK twice
  • Firefox – in the menu bar click on Tools \ Options \ Content tab \ Fonts & Colors \ Advanced and untick the ‘Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of my selections above’ box then press OK twice
  • Chrome – renders webpages in an archaic way using standard Windows fonts (long since abandoned by Firefox and even IE) but this does have one redeeming feature – in theory Chrome users should not suffer this problem as Chrome doesn’t let webpages use non-standard custom fonts in the first place…

Now close your web browser and then open it again – browse to the problematic webpage and try printing it – if the webpage still prints garbage characters then continue to Fix 2.

Fix 2 – Print from a Word Processor – To work around problems printing directly from the webpage, you can copy and paste the webpage content into a word processor and print from there instead (the dodgy fonts will be converted to standard generic Windows fonts which your printer can recognize and print).

Microsoft Word is the most well known word processor program – if you already have it installed then skip straight to step 1.

If you don’t have Microsoft Word (or an alternative word processor program) then you will need to install one – there are several but the one I recommend is LibreOffice – a free office suite which includes Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Presentation programs (which can read and write documents used by Microsoft Office) – see my review here for a guide on how to download and install LibreOffice.

1. Assuming you now have a word processor program installed – select (by highlighting with the mouse) all the text/content in the webpage that you would want to print
2. Right click anywhere on the selected text and select ‘Copy’
3. Open your word processor program at a new blank document
4. Right click in the blank document and select ‘Paste’ to copy the selected text from the webpage into the document
5. Depending on the format of the original webpage, you may need to rearrange the text in the document or insert/delete blank lines etc to make it look better
6. Now print the document in the usual way (File \ Print from the menu bar or click the Print icon) and the page(s) should print normally

This method works best with webpages that are mainly text – static pictures stored in the webpage will be copied into the document but pictures that are only linked to in the webpage (i.e. are stored in another location) will not be – if you really want to copy those too you would have to copy the individual picture and insert it into your document manually.

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5 Responses to: "How To Fix Webpage Prints Garbage Characters"

  1. Rodrigo A. says:

    Another alternative when printing from Chrome is selecting “simplified view” in the print window, this will change format but will correct the characters..

  2. Martin says:

    I don’t like the tone of the article. Custom fonts are ‘in’ in the world of webdesign. Google even launched a service for helping and promoting the use of non standard fonts:

    So a guide to disabling the fonts is like a guide to disabling javascript: people following the steps think they’re making their web experience better, while in fact they are making it worse

    • Roy says:

      I see where you’re coming from Martin but this article was to resolve a specific problem and a better web experience isn’t really better if a user can’t print a webpage…

      If you have a different solution to those offered do let me know – I’d genuinely be interested if there is another option?

      I would never recommend disabling javascript as (currently) it will indeed ‘break’ so much of the net (as far as the average user is concerned). Custom fonts are not in the same category – I’ve not seen a site break by disabling them

  3. Cindy says:

    Do you have any other suggestions to this problem?

    • Roy says:

      Not really, I’ve given both alternatives – disable them or convert them.

      I guess you could also inform the website and ask them to change the fonts they use