This is the first post in a series I'm calling "Gotcha". This is where I plan to talk about bugs ... er, "features" ... that I've run across or other issues that have caused me grief. Hopefully, by letting you know about them, and some possible work arounds, it will you save you from many future headaches!
I’ve been writing reports for years and I recently stumbled across an issue that threw me for a loop. A report that was designed on my machine in Michigan wasn’t working the same in the Tennessee home office. After a lot of hair pulling, the light bulb went off and I realized what the problem was.
To print a landscape report, my printer rotates the text counter-clockwise; the printer in the Tennessee office rotates the text clockwise!
What? You’ve got to be kidding me. How can this be? I just ASSUMED that all printers rotate the same direction! Isn’t there a “standard” or something that all printer manufacturers follow? Well .. apparently not!
So why is this important to you? The answer is … Unprintable Margins.
Most printers have unprintable margins that you have to consider when writing reports. Typically, the right and left margins are the same, but the top and bottom margins may be different. Often times, the bottom margin is the largest margin. For example, my printer has .25” on the right and left margins, .07” on the top margin, and a very greedy .48” on the bottom margin. The key here is that these figures apply to a portrait report. When you print a landscape report, these margins are swapped … and the direction of the rotation determines whether the left margin becomes .07” and the right margin becomes .48” or visa-versa.
Are you starting to see the problem yet? I designed a landscape report that was tight on the left side and had a half an inch on the right side to accommodate my greedy “bottom” margin. When my coworkers in Tennessee printed the report on their printer, the entire left side was cut off. That’s because their left margin is now the greedy bottom margin. That means they can’t print tight to the left side like I can .. but they can print tight to the right side.
So now that you know about this dilemma .. what should you do about it? You can take one of two approaches. The first approach is to design the reports as “Printable Page”, make the landscape width no more than 10.25”, and let the printer decide where to place the text. The other option is to design the report as “Whole Page” and leave a generous .5” margin on both the right and left sides of the landscape report. Personally, I prefer the latter because I like to keep the report centered, but it means I lose a little bit of real estate. Of course, if you ever run across a printer that is even greedier than mine, you’ll have to change your report width accordingly.
Knowledge is everything! Hopefully this bit of knowledge will keep you from making the same assumption I did which caused me a lot of grief and aggravation!