Add print feature

When I collect a dead specimen, I like to print the iNat observation from the desktop (browser) app and include it in the baggy before I send it to the museum. If I use the print feature of the browser it prints about 6 pages of extraneous stuff. So I mark the portion I’m interested in first. Marking the exact information is kind of tricky since I want the name of the organism, my name, the place and date found and the description. First I have to edit the location to include the latitude and longitude since these don’t print otherwise. Then I have to click “show” next to the location in order to print the entire location. It would be nice to have settings where I can choose what I would like to print, for example my real name instead of my login name. Thanks.

This would be a pretty niche feature, since you can already export all your data for formatting in whatever way you want. Can you just print screenshots instead? e.g.

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I didn’t think of printing screenshots. I’ll have to try that next time. How do I export the observation? Thanks.

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You can export all of your observations by going to Your Observations (in header), then clicking Filters>Download (bottom right corner). It will bring you to:

You can choose what you want to export, scroll to bottom, and click Create Export.

@dellfalconer, does printing the screenshot work for you? Do you think we should close this feature request?

Printing a screenshot works better than the browser’s print function, but a print feature or print “view” of the observation would still be much preferable. I would still like to see this feature implemented. Thanks.

even if this was a 3rd party thing that grabbed the data for the obs through the API and then formatted up for printing (for me A4). Would be cool to be able to select or exclude “sections” like the DQA or CID parts. Would be low impact. If I ever get time to learn how to use the API, I’ll make it my hello world project!

@dellfalconer, @kiwifergus – just for grins, i was thinking of writing something to do this, if i get a few hours over the next week or so. (I’ve never tried to write anything for printing purposes, but i thnk it should be doable.) if successful, i’ll provide the code (html + js + css probably) so you can tweak and use yourself.

some questions:

  1. what sections / elements of the observation are most important to you? (what must absolutely be included, or alternatively, are there sections that you don’t care about?)
  2. ideally, how many pages should a typical observation span? (if more than one page, what should definitely show up on the first page, and what can get pushed to successive pages?)
  3. paper size? (@kiwifergus says A4) portrait or landscape?
  4. in a footer, i was going to put things like print date, page numbering, and observation id/link. would you want to see anything else there?
  5. i’m probably not going to make it super pretty like the website – mostly just text, other than photos and maps. what kind of font would you like for the main text, and how big? 8pt? 12pt?
  6. how would you like to see the photos laid out? a big one on top with smaller ones below if extra? all the same size? ideally, how big do you want the photos to be on the page?
  7. do you have a preference for maps? street maps? topo? aerial imagery? (i’m not sure all those kinds are available for free in all geographies, but i’ll see what i can find, and of course, you can always tweak and choose your own.) do you have a preferred map provider? how big do you want the map to be on the page?
  8. do you envision a situation where you would pull in more than one observation at a time? if so, how would you typically pull these in? by project? by date range / user id? (i’m not sure of the capabilities of the API. so i’m not sure how well it’ll work if there are a whole lot of observations pulled back in one batch.)

@jdmore – you mentioned something about mail merge in another thread. so i wonder if you might have some thoughts, too?


For my use case, I would be looking to print an archive page to file away with my reference collection. I pin moths and have spiders in alcohol, and the traditional labelling side of things is finicky, so I was considering just including the iNat number on the label, and having that as the lookup into the paper archive. Of course, I would mostly use iNat proper to look them up, as it is dynamic, but I do have an ingrained desire for hardcopy “backup” version (grew up with computers through the 80’s so have experienced many data losses in my time!)

Another use case was for after bioblitzes, and being able to “export a booklet” of all the observations made (and/or taxa encountered), and then edit it to customise it for the audience involved.

Hi. My case is printing something to include in the baggie when I send a specimen to the museum.

  1. I need the name of the specimen (common name in the chosen language such as English or German plus scientific name if possible), my name (real name if possible, otherwise screen name), the observation date, place including latitude and longitude, and the description.
  2. It needn’t be more than one or two pages.
  3. A4 where I live.
  4. Sounds good.
  5. At least 10 pt; 12 pt would be better.
  6. Photos aren’t that important.
  7. Maps aren’t important either. I prefer Open Street Map. The place description including latitude and longitude are important. Ideally also with country and first level beneath country, e.g. state or province.
  8. My case only requires one observation at a time.


  1. For permanent documentation, I would want it to include everything relevant to the Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why of an observation, including the photographic or other visual evidence (and notation of any non-visual evidence), description, IDs and comments, etc. Especially since just about every piece of an Observation is changeable over time, I would want a “snapshot in time” for that observation that captures everything that could potentially be modified later. Things like project or place membership are probably not important, but others may disagree. The top 3 levels of standard places (Country, State-equivalent, County-equivalent) would probably be good to list.
  2. As few pages as possible, while still capturing the relevant data. First page should include the first photo, and the Community ID (and Observer ID if possible). Any additional photos could be smaller thumbnails in a grid at the end of the document.
  3. As long as it is convertible to PDF (or even better, native PDF!), I’m not too worried about exact size, as it can be fit to A4, American 8.5x11 inches, or whatever is needed. Portrait format would definitely be my preference.
  4. Sounds good.
  5. 10pt font would probably be a good compromise, something universal like Helvetica or Times Roman that is most likely to be supported on any system.
  6. (see # 1 above)
  7. Most universally usable would probably be topo. But personally, if I have the map coordinates, accuracy, and obscuration status, I don’t need the map too.
  8. Would sure be nice if a filtered batch could be printed/exported to PDF with page breaks between each observation. But really, just having this capability for one observation at a time would be a huge help! Thanks for working on it!
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6 posts were merged into an existing topic: Tool for making observations printer-friendly

@dellfalconer - as I don’t think we’ll be adding this feature, do you mind if I split @pisum’s code and the responses to it into a separate thread and close this request?

No problem :-)

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OK, I’ve moved the relevent replies here: Will close this topic.