Don’t Print These Articles!

NOTE: This is an updated repeat of an article I published more than a year ago. The question arouse again today in an email message from a newsletter reader. I decided that it is time to encourage all newsletter readers to stop wasting paper, toner, and ink.

Warning: This article contains personal opinions.

A newsletter reader asked today, “Is there a way to print out (I know; I am bad) an item without all of the right column (Subscribe, Read, Steal, Search, Links, Etc.) being printed? A recent blog was 23 pages of the blog but would have printed out 45 pages in all. If not, OK. I can watch and halt the printing, when I remember.”

My answer may have surprised the person who asked. I replied, “I strongly recommend that you NEVER print anything and thereby waste paper! I save lots of articles from many different web sites but never print anything, if I can avoid it. I work hard to keep a paperless lifestyle.”

Actually, you are free to print most anything in this newsletter and even forward most items or republish them elsewhere, as you please. See for details. However, I try hard to never print anything and I suggest you do the same.

Why waste paper?

There are better ways to keep things for a long time! In fact, it is easier to find things that are saved electronically than it is to find things saved on paper. Computers are marvelous devices when it comes to searching through hundreds or thousands of saved text files.

As I wrote in an article more than four years ago:

“I have written a number of times about the advantages of a paperless lifestyle. Genealogists seem especially attached to paper. We often save photocopies of old records, old books, and much, much more. I once bought a four-drawer filing cabinet to store all my paper. A few years later, I purchased a SECOND four-drawer filing cabinet. I purchased probably more than one hundred dollars’ worth of file folders over the years. I photocopied and photocopied and stored all the paper in neatly-arranged folders.

“Sadly, I almost never opened the drawers to retrieve anything. When I did attempt to find something, I often couldn’t locate what I wanted because the document was filed in some obscure method. For instance, the marriage record I might be seeking often was filed under the husband’s surname, not under the wife’s maiden name.

“Like a recovering alcoholic, I have since broken my addiction to paper. I now live about 98% paper-free, and I love it. Almost every piece of paper that enters my house is either (1.) discarded immediately or (2.) scanned into my computer, and then the paper is discarded. I don’t ever want to go back to cluttering my life with paper. And, yes, I have multiple backups of everything worth saving; some backup copies are stored at home, and other copies are stored off-site for safety. See for some of my earlier articles about how to live a paperless lifestyle.”

Life without paper is great! I can now find things easier than ever before. It saves space. It saves clutter.

For more information, see the following past articles from this newsletter:

However, if you really insist upon wasting paper, see the icons at the bottom of each article. Click on “Print & PDF.”

After you click on “Print & PDF,” I would strongly suggest you select the option for PDF and then save the article to your hard drive. However, if you really want to, you can select the option to Print. In both cases, that will save the article “without all of the right column (Subscribe, Read, Steal, Search, Links, Etc.).”

You will also have an option to send the article by email to yourself or to someone else.


All of Dick’s articles that I want to keep are captured in Evernote. I select the “simplified article” option and that removes all nonessential graphics and text not included in the original article. I’m not 100% paperless yet, but I’m getting there.


And what happens if your computer crashes and you lose all that info that you “saved”. And what if a web-site just disappears from the internet as did the rootsweb lists that I was on ? I would LOVE to be paperless; but it is just not feasible—too much can go wrong and too much can be lost. If my doctors are concerned about not having paper records anymoe, shouldn’t genealogists and family historians be equally concerned?


    —> And what happens if your computer crashes and you lose all that info that you “saved”.

    You DO have backups, right? All computer users should have backups, preferably multiple backups stored in different locations.

    Here is another question that needs to be asked: What happens to your paper copies if you experience a flood, fire, burst water pipe, mildew, mold, or someone else accidentally throws out all that “useless paper that is no longer needed?”

    In short, paper is very fragile and is easily destroyed by all sorts of things. Paper is no safer than any other commonly-used method of storing information.

    You also asked, “If my doctors are concerned about not having paper records anymore…” so I have to ask: “What do doctors do when their offices and records are damaged, stolen, flooded, or have other disasters?” I suspect most of them would be very glad to have digital copies stored “off site” in some distant location! Doctors, hospitals, and medical centers used to commonly store copies of their records “off site” on microfilm. However, microfilm has now almost disappeared. Today, most places digitize their records and store the digital images off-site. Digital copies are cheaper, easier to create and to store, and more reliable than microfilm. They may or may not keep paper copies as well.

    I keep one backup of everything right beside my computer and then keep additional other backups in the cloud. Some people keep backup copies in their office or some other location. That’s easy to do with digital information but is harder to do with paper.


    “If my doctors are concerned about not having paper records anymore, shouldn’t genealogists and family historians be equally concerned?”
    Our local doctors’ surgery has neither, it burnt down yesterday.
    This raises the question of where backups are kept; certainly not in the “Cloud” which appears to be some data store in some other country and obviously at the mercy of whoever owns it. My own family website is hosted by an American company, staffed by east Europeans and where the actual data might be, is a mystery.


    Or – what happens if you save the article and then, sometime later, can’t remember which folder you put the article in? I have this problem all the time. I ‘know’ I saved it – somewhere! Although I have the same problem in my real life too! I put something in a ‘Safe Place’ and it is so safe I can’t remember where I put it! LOL!


Surprising that you didn’t point out the option of switching to Reader View and then printing. While I do pretty much like Dick does, not everyone is comfortable reading on a monitor or tablet.


    I don’t see anything called Reader View. What’s that????


    Reader View: If you are using Safari, if reader view is available for a web page, there will be four horizontal lines at the left hand end of the URL box. Click on the lines and you will see just the article; all of the ads and stuff are hidden. If you print from reader view, there will be no ads and such on your printed page.

    I save lots of articles to the Notes app by do a Print to PDF after applying the reader view. Added benefit: Often times, one will go to print a page and it previews as a whole bunch of pages single columned using about size 16 Times Roman font; printing from reader view nearly always solves that as your print job from reader view will print exactly what you see on the screen.


Barbara Curtindale January 9, 2019 at 8:24 am

I’ve always been told –never store any CD’s, thumb drives, etc. next to a computer tower on your desk as the magnetic images will get messed up or go away. Is this out dated info or are you doing it without realizing danger to information? Just curious.


    I suspect that is a left-over idea from the days when people stored data on MAGNETIC floppy disks. Those disks were susceptible to nearby magnetic fields.

    CD disks, DVD disks, Blu-Ray disks, and flash drives don’t use magnetism to store data and are not bothered by nearby magnetic devices. The disks are all OPTICAL. You can place a magnet on top of a CD and leave it for an extended period of time. That will not have any impact on the stored data.

    Flash drives are not disk drives. They store data in memory chips, also not susceptible to nearby magnetism.


Wish you had said shred and/or recycle instead of “discard” paper after digitizing.


Christine Czarnecki January 9, 2019 at 10:44 am

My husband is an archival storage engineer in Silicon Valley and has been working in some form or other of this field since the early 1980s. They were working on 8 inch floppies when he started, then 5 1/4 inch floppies, then he helped develop the “microfloppy,” the standard hard shell 3 1/2 inch floppy disk we all now think of when someone says, “floppy disk.” Since then, he has worked on larger and larger backup and cloud storage methods, which are now at the multiple terabyte level. (A terabyte is a trillion bytes) They bring out a new generation every 18 months to two years. These are used by the cloud storage vendors, like Google and Amazon.
See a pattern here? The method of physical storage for data is changing faster than any of us ordinary users can keep up with. Do back up your data on another, physical data storage device for home use, but make sure you are also using cloud storage in order to make sure you have copies. Google is not like Rootsweb, and neither are Amazon Cloud nor Dropbox. You need to go to the big boys for proper cloud storage, and you might want to go to more than one. But if you do this, your data will be preserved.
Just so you know, they don’t just store it once. These cloud storage providers each store it about three times, in three different physical locations, in case one of their servers is damaged, and it happens to be the one with your cat videos.


I concur with Dick. I do save family heirloom type items, pictures and so forth, but everything else is scanned or photographed, or if a document, saved in a Word format. By doing this, I can quickly search for documents.
I try and label all pictures accurately with dates, such as “Cole, Tom 010919”. Granddaughter Autumn visited recently and wanted to see some pictures of her when she was little. I did a search for her name on the computer and came up with several hundred pictures of her, instantly, and in one place. I could even toggle a slide show for her.
As for backups, my wife and I both use external drives for our desktops that backup on Friday mornings. I backup mine to hers monthly and vice versa. I backup everything to our travel laptop as well, so there are five copies of everything.
We also use a free cloud storage for our databases and running correspondence.
Finally, I have two small external drives that I rotate every three months in and out of our bank lockbox.
For us to lose our data, our house would need to be destroyed along with our traveling laptop, the cloud company (Microsoft) go belly up or worse, and the bank would be so demolished that the lockboxes would be irretrievable. Otherwise we are just fine and our records/photos are safe.


Does no one besides me use “Pockets “? You can “file” under as many categories as you want .


If an EOGN article is interesting to me and is rather lengthy, I do print it because too much online reading is a migraine trigger for me. (Hopefully that is a rare situation.) After reading the article, I either file it or shred it.


This method is great when you want to copy text – which you can then print if you wish or save.
Have the text you want to save/print on the screen. Place the cursor to the left of the first character you wish to capture. Click. Place your cursor to the right of the last character you wish to capture (scroll down if off-screen). Shift-click. Only text between the two clicks will be captured. I use ClipMate which saves everything I copy. I could read through Dick’s wonderful newsletter, highlighting, clicking, saving as I go. Then paste into Word or Evernote or TreePad (my favourite) or print or,,,,,, I could have a cut-down version of the Newsletter saving each of the clips to Word (or??) and then printing my shortened or saving my must-have, must-read, must-save items in one document or file.


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