Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia has become a one-stop destination for many people, though there are people who doubt its authenticity as it can be edited by anyone. But any wrong information is almost immediately corrected because of its strong user-base.

One drawback about Wikipedia, however, is that it is an online-only platform. People usually bookmark Wikipedia pages, and forget to check the offline availability option. Printing of Wikipedia pages may not be the perfect solution, as the printout may be in a format not exactly convenient for reading. It may also contain all the links in the page that may be useless in print -- just occupying valuable space.

This happens with all sites. Some sites offer a print option, which strips all unnecessary links, optimises space and prints exactly what you want. You can also select the text, and print using the ‘selection’ option in the printer dialogue. This could again be a cumbersome process.

Where Wikipedia scores over others is by providing the book creation option. If you like a Wikipedia article or a series of articles, you can create a book in PDF or OpenDocument format.

Once a ‘book’ is created, you can either save it in your computer or take a print-out which will look exactly like a book. You will have to first click on the ‘create a book’ link on the left. In some cases, you may have to click the print/export option before you can access the ‘create a book’ option. This will take you to a page where you will have an option to ‘create a book’

Clicking on the ‘create a book’ link will take you back to the page you were viewing. You will find a box on the top of the page with an option to ‘add this page to the book’. Once you click on the link, the page will be ‘added’ to the book. You can also use the ‘suggest pages’ option to find more pages related to the book you are creating. If you are in a category page, you will get an ‘add this category to your book’ link instead of ‘add this page to your book’. This will add all articles available in the category.

You will find links within the page that link to other pages. If you want to add the page you have the option of adding it without opening the page, thereby saving you time and effort. This is how it works: Instead of clicking the link to open the page, hovering over the link will open a ‘Add linked wiki page to your book’ pop-up. You will just have to click on the link to add the page.

Once you have added enough pages, you have to click on ‘show book’ to give the book a title, subtitle, change the order or pages or remove or add pages.

Your book is now ready. You can export it in PDF, OpenDocument, or openZIM format and download the book. You can now store it and read it any time in a friendly format - just like a book. You can even print it, and make a hard copy.

Offline reference

If you don’t have a printer, you can use the services of PediaPress.com. Established in partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, PediaPress allows you to typeset and print books made out of Wikipedia pages. The prices start from $10.27, and “you get your unique book and support the Wikimedia Foundation”.

Printing out books using pages from Wikipedia could easily be the ideal solution for offline reference.