Common Desktop Environment: Style Guide and Certification Checklist

Print Dialog Box

These are guidelines for a common look and feel print dialog box, which may be used wherever a print action is available. The print dialog is not a widget. Developers are encouraged to use these guidelines as a starting point and to add functionality as appropriate for their applications. It is important, however, to remember that users expect consistency from one print dialog to another; therefore, the common area should be left as unchanged as possible. Use a print dialog box whenever users would want to select options for printing a file, a selection, or other type of object. If your application supports printing, you should use a print dialog box, and you may provide an optional nondialog method of printing directly, that is, "silent" printing.

Standard Print Menu Items for Applications

Print...: brings up a print dialog so the user can choose from the available options before printing the selected objects.

Print One: prints one copy of the selected objects, using the default print methods previously defined by the user. The user is not prompted for further information through a dialog.

Guidelines for Common Print Dialog Functions

Applications are expected to provide many different types of printing functions and capabilities. This section provides guidelines for the most commonly used types of print options so that appearance and behavior for these items is consistent across applications. These common items are grouped into a common area that is located in the top portion of the print dialog. Figure 7-5 shows a typical print dialog. The common area is the area above the separator line.

Figure 7-5 A basic print dialog. box


The common area contains the following components:

Guidelines for Application-Specific Print Dialog Box Functions

The standard print dialog application-specific area is the bottom half of the dialog box illustrated in Figure 7-6.

Depending upon the application or function, developers may choose to add more fields to the common Print dialog. The controls in the dialog are laid out horizontally; if more fields are needed, it is suggested that you add another separator line, then place the additional controls below it, as illustrated. If any additional push buttons are needed, they should go between the Print and Cancel buttons.

Optional Fields

Some possible optional fields include:

Print Page Numbers

This checkbox applies only when ASCII files are being printed. If the objects selected for printing are non-ASCII, this control should be dimmed. When turned on, output pages will be numbered.

Print Command Options

A text field where the user may type an lp command or script name to override the instructions in the other fields. If you want to provide print methods besides lp, rename this field (Print Method, Use Print Command, and so on).


This might be an option menu containing values for High, Medium, and Low, or might be a spin box containing numbers.


An option menu containing the values Portrait and Landscape (see Figure 7-6).


An option menu or a spin box containing numeric values, in dpi (see Figure 7-6).


An option menu containing the values Single and Double (see Figure 7-6).

Paper Size

An option menu containing the values Letter, Legal, and so on. (Figure 7-6).

Paper Source

An option menu containing the values Upper Tray, Lower Tray, and so on. (see Figure 7-6).

If the dialog box is to be used for an application, consider:

Page Range

Two text fields, from x to y (see Figure 7-7).


A spin box containing values for percentages (see Figure 7-7).

Print Preview

A button that brings up a WYSIWYG representation of the output.

Some Sample Layouts

Figure 7-6and Figure 7-7show some example Print dialog box layouts.

Figure 7-6 Example print dialog box layout for general printing


Figure 7-7 Example print dialog box layout for printing from applications