June 25, 1994
Copyright (C) 1992-1994 by Thomas M. Roddy
All Rights Reserved.
ColPrint reformats a text file into two or three 80 line columns for printing
on standard 8 1/2" x 11" paper. ColPrint removes excessive blank lines and
original form feeds and uses a small font to fit up to three or four
times as much text on a page compared to regular printing. Many printers,
from 9 pin dot matrix to laser printers, are supported. Several command line
options allow you to control the actions of ColPrint.
The shareware version of ColPrint is restricted in one way. To encourage
registration, it will only process the first 5000 or so lines of a file. This
should be adequate to test the usefulness of the program. Please register
if you find ColPrint useful. You will mailed the latest version of the program
without the shareware notice and with the 5000 line restriction removed.
Rap is a word wrap program which is included in this distribution, but has a
registration fee separate from ColPrint. Rap is useful for reformatting text
files into specific line lengths in order to print the text files into
columns. See RAP.DOC for more information.
ColPrint 2.1 is the same as ColPrint 2.0, but it is being rereleased with a
new version of Rap and modifications to the documentation file and order form.
License and distribution information:
ColPrint is shareware. It is not public domain or free software. An order form
is enclosed in the file named ORDER.FRM. After trying it out for 14 days, if
you like it and want to continue using ColPrint, please register by sending the
registration fee (located in ORDER.FRM) with your name and address along with
any comments or questions to the address listed. A companion word wrap program,
Rap which is included in this distribution, must also be registered after 14
days of use according to the instructions in ORDER.FRM.
You may NOT alter the code nor may you sell this program or any of its
associated data files for any price. You may charge a reasonable copy
fee of not more than US$10 when distributing it to others as long as you
clearly stipulate that ColPrint and Rap must be registered with its author
if it is used beyond the trial period. Every copy of the ZIP distribution
file must contain all of the files listed below.
You may (and are encouraged to) distribute the shareware version of ColPrint.
Under no circumstances may you distribute a registered version of ColPrint
The author makes no claims or guarantees about the use of ColPrint and will
not be responsible for any loss, including data or profits, due its use
There is no guarantee that ColPrint has been tested on your specific printer,
but I believe it should work on all of the following printers or printers
compatible with the following: Panasonic KX-P1124, All Epson dot matrix 9
and 24 pin printers (LQ series, FX series, etc.), HP laser printers, HP
DeskJet printer, IBM Proprinter X24, and NEC P2200XE. Please let me know if
you can not get ColPrint to work on one of the above listed printers. I'm
sure there are others that ColPrint will work with. Try it! Many dot matrix
printers are compatible with one of the above.
Files in distribution:
COLPRINT.EXE - Program which prints a document using two columns
COLPRINT.DOC - This file - Documentation for ColPrint
RAP.EXE - Program which reformats text files to specified line lengths
RAP.DOC - Documentation for Rap
PR1COL.BAT - Batch file for printing one column documents
PR2COL.BAT - Batch file for printing two column documents
PR3COL.BAT - Batch file for printing three column documents
ORDER.FRM - Printable order form for registering the programs
FILE_ID.DIZ - Short description of ColPrint
ColPrint is my answer to the overwhelming amounts of paper that piles up
from printing various large document files. If you prefer to read them on
paper rather than on the PC, as I do, and you want to save a few trees, I
think you will find this program useful.
ColPrint can print the same text on a fraction of the amount of paper normally
required. It is not unusual to reduce a 100 page document to 30 pages (or
15 if you use both sides of the paper).
ColPrint was initially developed to take advantage of the 20 character per
inch mode (pitch) of many 24 pin dot matrix printers, HP DeskJet, and laser
printers. This mode permits 160 characters per line to be printed which fits
two 80 character columns nicely on a single page with no space between the
NOTE: Not all printers support 20 characters per inch (cpi) which is
equivalent to 160 characters per line, but most support around 17 cpi
(137 cpl). If you have a laser printer, check your manual to see if a 20
pitch internal font comes with it.
If your printer does not support 20 cpi mode and you have a document which
has 80 character lines then you need to reformat it into shorter lines using
the enclosed word wrap utility, Rap, to print two columns of about 66
characters on a 137 character line. If you prefer three columns, you will
need to use the word wrap utility first to reformat to about 42 character
lines. Otherwise the lines will be truncated when printed using ColPrint.
Rap is a word wrap program which is distributed with this program, but its
use beyond 14 days requires a separate registration fee.
By default, ColPrint Reads an ASCII file, removes form feed (advances to
new page) characters, removes blank lines (except for one) which occur
between text, sets printer for compressed print, 8 lines per inch (80 lines
per page), either 137 or 160 characters per line depending on printer type,
and formats the text into columns for output. The original document remains
unchanged. You can still print it out in the traditional way. ColPrint makes
a guess regarding the maximum pitch of your printer. If that guess is wrong,
specify a smaller line length on the command line (/L) to create smaller
widths of columns.
Optionally, you can print out just the odd or just the even pages thereby
allowing you to print on both sides of the paper. For example, you would
print all the odd pages, flip the paper over and feed it back into the
printer. Then print all the even pages. This allows you to minimize your
use of paper.
I usually send the output to a file and then use DOS's print command to
send it to the printer. This way the print job is queued up and I can still
use my computer for other things. There is no such print spooling built
into ColPrint so the computer remains occupied until the printing is complete
if you send it directly to the printer (the default action).
There are several options that you can give to control the formatting of the
text. For example, you can specify a left margin so that there will be space
on the left side of the paper which could be hole punched for a binder. Just
make sure that you shorten the line length and possibly reformat your file
using Rap in order to make room for the margin. Also, you can set the number
of columns, column width, and total line length of the output file (includes
all columns). You can specify which type of printer you are using and whether
to print just odd or even pages.
Remember, ColPrint will not automatically wrap lines (to the next line) that
are longer than the column width. The lines will be truncated. Please use
Rap to format the file into shorter line lengths if necessary. Then print
the file using ColPrint.
Enclosed are a few batch files to help automate the reformatting of line
lengths with Rap followed by the reformatting into columns by ColPrint.
Consult your DOS manual if you don't understand the batch files.
Usage: ColPrint InFile [OutFile] [/O] [/E] [/Tn] [/Cn] [/Mn] [/Wn] [/Ln] [/Pn]
where InputFile = File to be printed
OutputFile = Destination File or printer device such as
LPT1 (default), LPT2, COM1, or COM2,
/O = Print Odd numbered pages only
/E = Print Even numbered pages only
/Tn = Use printer commands for printer type n, where n is one of:
2 = Epson 20 cpi compatible printer - 160 chars per line (default)
1 = Epson 17 cpi compatible printer - 137 chars per line
I = IBM Proprinter X24 compatible printer - 137 chars per line
L = HP LaserJet compatible printer - 160 chars per line
D = HP DeskJet compatible printer - 160 chars per line
N = NEC P2200XE compatible printer - 160 chars per line
/Mn = Left margin of n spaces (default = 0)
/Cn = Print using n columns (1, 2 (default), or 3)
/Ln = Total line length of output is n characters (default depends
on printer type; either 160 or 137)
/Wn = Width of each column (default = Line length/Columns)
/R = Do NOT issue a reset to the printer before printing
/B = Do NOT skip multiple blank lines (i.e. Print all input lines)
/G = Use graphics character set (works on printer types 1 and 2 only)
/Pn = Pitch (characters per inch) of n. For lasers and DeskJets ONLY.
/ or - are both supported for specifying options.
Upper case and lower case option characters are equivalent.
ColPrint TEXTFILE.TXT COM1
will print to the first serial port. Other default options are
assumed: All pages, 2 columns, 20 cpi printer, 160 line length, 80
character columns (160 characters per line / 2 columns), no left
ColPrint TEXTFILE.TXT LPT2
will print to the second parallel port.
ColPrint TEXTFILE.TXT TEXTFILE.COL
will write to a file named TEXTFILE.COL (You could then
edit it or print it using your favorite print spooler).
ColPrint TEXTFILE.TXT TEXTFILE.COL /E
will write the even pages (after formatting of TEXTFILE.TXT)
ColPrint TEXTFILE.TXT /TL /L150 /C3 /M10
will write to LPT1 all pages in three columns. The line length
is set to 140 characters, so columns will be 50 characters wide
each (150 characters / 3 columns). A 10 character margin on the
left side is specified. The printer type specified is the HP
If you want to specify a different font or other setting to the printer, then
make sure you use the /R switch. Otherwise, ColPrint will issue the "reset"
command before printing which will use the default "power on" settings of
The /P option is to specify a different pitch and is only valid if the printer
is of type L (Laser) or D (DeskJet). The default for these printers is 20
characters per inch. You may want to change it to a slightly larger value
if you have the internal fonts for that pitch. ColPrint does not come with
any fonts. Check your printer's manual to see if you have a 20 cpi pitch
Most word processor programs save their files in a proprietary format with
control characters. If the text file is not in ASCII format, you must convert
it to ASCII. Most word processors allow you to do this. Alternatively, you
can use the free utility program from PC Magazine called PCMCVT.COM to strip
the control characters out of the proprietary formatted word processing
Specifying one column is a valid option. You may find this useful after
using the word wrap program to reformat the input file to 137 or 160
character lines and then using ColPrint to print it out in one column -
utilizing the compressed printing.
If the document you are printing has box drawing characters, then you must
specify the /G option in order for the printer to use the correct
character set. Of course there is a trade off. When using the graphics
character set, your document should not contain any italicized characters
or else they will print incorrectly. This option only works with the Epson
compatible dot matrix printers (both type 1 and 2 as defined above). I
believe the IBM printer will use the graphics character set by default.
COLPRINT.EXE and RAP.EXE should be placed in a directory which is in your
search PATH so that you can run the programs from within other directories.
ColPrint environment variable:
You can set an environment variable named "ColPrint" equal to the options
that you want to be in effect each time ColPrint is run. ColPrint will read
the environment variable prior to the command line option, so you can
over ride an option in the ColPrint environment variable by specifying a
different value for that option on the command line.
For example, in your AUTOEXEC.BAT, you could have this line:
SET COLPRINT=/C3 /TL
so that every time you run ColPrint, it will be set up for 3 columns and a
laser printer type.
IMPORTANT: Make sure there are no spaces on either side of the equal sign
when defining the COLPRINT variable.
Input and output files will not be overridden, so whichever method (variable
or command line) gives file names, they will be used. Since the environament
variable is read first, if it specifies files, than the command line
specified files are ignored.
ColPrint returns a value of 0 on successful completion or a 1 on error.
This information is useful if you are calling ColPrint from a batch file
(see ERRORLEVEL) or another program.
Output files are frequently larger than the size of original file due to
the additional whitespace (spaces) between columns.
ColPrint does not support reading from standard input or writing to
the standard output device. In other words, you can not pipe data into
or out of ColPrint using the DOS pipe symbol, |. You must specify an input
file for ColPrint to use. If no output file is specified, then the output
is written to LPT1 (the first parallel port).
Warning: you are not legally allowed to modify many copyrighted software
manuals. This program should be used on your own personal files or with the
permission of the document's author.
If you are interested in having ColPrint customized for a fee, contact the
author at the address below.
The official distribution site for ColPrint is the Programmers Corner BBS in
Columbia, Maryland (410)995-6873. You can be sure of having the latest
version of ColPrint if you download it from there. CompuServe will have it
soon after the Programmers Corner. I can also be reached on the Programmers
Corner BBS for technical support by sending a message to Tom Roddy.
The author can also be contacted by US mail or CompuServe:
Thomas M. Roddy CompuServe ID: 73730,3304
7158 Harp String Internet: [email protected]
Columbia, MD 21045
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.