Google Chrome Will Soon Get N-Up Printing to Save Paper When Printing Multiple Pages

When it comes to printing documents, there are multiple page layout strategies to choose from. The most common are 2-up, 3-up, or more generally N-up. The goal of N-up printing is to reduce the number of pages that a document or book would otherwise require without making any changes to the paper, and according to a commit description, an upcoming version of Google Chrome will support it.

We recently discovered a merged commit in the Chromium Gerrit that suggests N-up printing is being added in a flag. It’ll likely make its way into version 68 of Chrome, and when it does, you’ll be able to manually enable it by accessing the page chrome://flags#enable-nup-printing. Since the feature will be hidden in Chrome’s flag page initially, it’s considered to be in active development until it makes its way to the stable version of Chrome.

The 2nd edition of the Compact OED showing its 9-up layout // Source: Wikimedia

N-up printing works by compositing multiple pre-rendered pages onto a single page, employing a variety of strategies including reductions in size, possible rotations, and subsequent arrangement in a grid pattern. It was popularized by file formats like PDG and page layout languages such as PostScript, and by publications like the Compact Oxford English Dictionary.

N-up printing is particularly useful in business environments where people are printing out hundreds or thousands of papers per day. However, fitting everything onto a single page has also been an issue for me in the past — sometimes, the printer ends up putting a line or two on a second page. To fix this, I’ve had to go back and make the text smaller and try again, but native support for N-up printing in Chrome would afford me — and everyone else who uses Chrome — a lot more flexibility in page layout.

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