Print Issues

 

 

What's covered?

Printed Output covers how to set up a printed output in RoboHelp. This page is about what to do when things go wrong. These are some of the things to check.

Lists

Bulleted and numbered lists may not appear with the same indentation or they may not be true lists. See Single Level Lists for information about that.

Missing / Duplicated Topics

Sometimes the output does not contain the topics you have specified, sometimes it contains them more than once.

Missing Topics

Cause

Description

Topics created from import of a Word document

When you import topics from a Word document into RH HTML, the html code you get is bloated. This causes all sorts of problems and the sort of thing that goes wrong is covered in Importing Word Documents. There I explain how I clean up any Word documents that I have to import. There is a good illustration of the bloated html code that Word produces on the Engineering Network Services web site which reinforces what the above topic says.

One poster sent me a copy of their project where various topics were in the print layout but not the final document. Eventually I identified the cause. I found variations of <![if !supportEmptyParas]> in topics preceeding the missing topics, as shown below. That is something that Word generates when creating an html version of a doc file. After removing all instances, the topics all printed fine.

Remember, this will be found in topics other than those that do not print. It may also be found in the non printing topics. Below are the variations I found, you may find others.

The real answer is clean up your code after importing from Word. Otherwise you never know when it will bite back and it may be so long afterwards that it is the last thing you think of.

<![if !supportEmptyParas]>

<![if !supportEmptyParas]><![endif]>

<![if !supportEmptyParas]>&nbsp;

<![if !supportEmptyParas]>&nbsp;<![endif]>

I have also been told the same issue occurred with the following code from a Word document.

<p class="ListBullet1" style="mso-bookmark: _Toc423446978;"><span lang="EN-AU" xml:lang="EN-AU">/p>

Build tags

If the print layout has a build expression applied, then the topics excluded by that expression simply will not print. You can include them in the layout by using the Show All Topics check box, but they will not print.

At first it may seem silly to allow you to include topics that cannot be printed but it is actually very useful. The idea is that you have the ability to define one layout and then choose to run it with or without the build expression. With the build expression applied you get the short version, without it you get the full version.

See Printed Output.

Style Sheet Conflict

With one project sent to me it would only print all the topics in the layout even if all the paragraph styles were set to normal. Eventually the poster found that by changing back the styles from normal to what they should be, it went bang with one particular style. Once that was removed, everything printed fine.

Project on network

Over the years and in the various incarnations of the forum, there have been lots of posts where the cause has been running the project across a network. Put the project on the hard disk and it works as intended.

Often when this is stated on the forum, someone will say "I've had my projects on a network drive for years and not had any trouble". You can play Russian Roulette and win some real big money but eventually that bullet is going to get you.

It amuses me that sometimes those who defend this are the very people having a problem.

Note that I am not referring here to projects under source control on a network, that is totally different.

Update - RoboHelp 10 and above allow projects to be stored on a network but do generate your printed output to the same drive.

Outputting to network

The same argument as above.

Long path and file names

There is some evidence that long path and file names for the topics going into the print layout can cause problems. I haven't been able to substantiate this but if all else has failed, be guided by those who have had the problem.

Topic not included in the layout

The default layout the very first time you create a printed document is the online TOC. As a result it is sometimes expected that changes to the online TOC are reflected in the print layout. They are not. See Printed Output.

Malformed topics message

I haven't seen this problem reported for quite some time now but occasionally people used to report that they got a Malformed Topics message and no content appeared or they got some duplicated topics but not the whole layout.

Initially the reported problems were resolved by using the supplied Style Mapping template instead of the user's own template, even though no fault could be found with the user's own template. I would just add that I automatically now suggest using the supplied Style Mapping template as it fixes so many problems that get reported. Back up the supplied template as a precaution and then edit to suit your needs.

In one case though even using the Style Mapping template did not resolve the problem. Here I found that by changing the CSS file attached to all the topics, the problem was solved. The CSS file used had a gif image for bullet points and that seems to have been the problem. Using a copy of your project, it is worth changing the CSS file used to one of the supplied CSS files that has not been modified in any way to see if that fixes the problem.

I also ran into the problem and found that the paragraph after a bookmarked heading contained the following code:
<p style="mso-bookmark: REQ_Requisitions_Link_Menu;">
That looks like something from Microsoft Word and when I removed it, the document was generated without problems.

Update: I encountered this problem again using Adobe RH7 but none of the fixes here worked. By applying the Output view, I noticed that the problem started at a particular point and then continued. When I deleted all the topics after that point, it was OK. Then I generated another layout starting with all the topics after that point. Suddenly they started working but again it reached a point further on where the problem occurred again. This was beginning to look like a resource issue so I put the project on a much more powerful machine with 3gb of ram and it generated perfectly, all 1,500 pages!

Same topic prints twice

This often occurs when authors link a topic to a book so that clicking the book in the online help opens a topic without the user having to select the topic. Sometimes the author will also list the topic so that users can see it listed as there is no indication to the user that a topic is linked to a book.

If that TOC is used for Printed Documentation, the topic is in the layout twice. Once from the book layout and once from its own listing. You simply delete the listing in the topic and it will only be included once.

From RoboHelp 9 things changed. Adobe made it more obvious by showing the topic linked to a book as a listing and then showing it again. Scroll down the TOC in the Printed Documentation layout and check for duplicates below the books.

 

Duplicated Topics

Cause

Description

Style Sheet Conflict

You will notice this cause is also listed under Missing Topics as it can cause both problems. What happens here is that the document starts to print normally but after a number of topics are generated correctly, it then reverts to the start of the layout, duplicates some topics and then stops.

The cause is the same, there is something in the style sheet that causes to generation to fail to work properly.

To find out if this is the cause is quite easy. Take a copy of your project using Windows Explorer. Using the copy apply a completely different style sheet to all topics. Generate again and if the problem has gone away, you know the cause.

To find out which particular style is the cause is more time consuming than difficult.

  1. Have you got an older copy of the style sheet? Does it make any difference? What are the differences between the old and new version?
  2. Gradually import into the temporary style sheet the individual styles from the one causing the problem and keep generating documents until the problem comes back.

Word Issues

This section brings together the various issues previously covered within Snippets on this site plus new ones as found.

Issue

Description

Cannot find Microsoft Word installed on your system

RoboHelp 7, 8 or 9 Problem

If you get this message in RoboHelp 7, 8 or 9, please email me requesting MPJ2DOC.ZIP.

It is important you state for which version of RoboHelp you require the file and the version of Word that you are using.

The file contains a replacement DLL that should be saved to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe RoboHelp nn\RoboHTML assuming you used the default installation. Rename the old file first.

Update 30 Dec 2012

Mark Kofler found an alternative solution which he posted on the RoboHelp forum. It is too early to tell whether this will work for everyone. Coincidentally I saw a similiar solution elsewhere but with slightly different instructions.

Alternative Method

In Windows 7, press the Windows key and the letter R.

Type "cmd" (without the quotes) and press Enter.

Type "winword.exe /r" (without the quotes but noting the space before the backslash) and press Enter.

If that fails, in the Command window enter

cd "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office2010\OfficeNN (on 32 bit systems)

cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office2010\OfficeNN (on 64 bit systems)

where NN is your version of Word.

Word 2010 = 14

Word 2007 = 13

Then enter "winword.exe /r" again and press Enter.

Please let me know if either method works or fails for you.

Open Office Conflict

David Channon posted that he could generate printed documentation from RoboHelp for Word but if he tried from RoboHelp HTML, he got a message "Cannot find Microsoft Word installed on your system".

The problem turned out to be not the fact that David had Open Office installed but the way in which it was installed.

When installing OpenOffice there is an option to automatically open doc files in OpenOffice. If that option is selected during installation, the problem that David encountered arises. My first thought was that this was simply because doc files had been associated with OpenOffice. However, changing those and dot files back to Word did not solve the problem. You have to uninstall OpenOffice and reinstall it making sure the option is not selected. Then RH HTML generates the printed output without problems.

For anyone who does not frequently generate printed output, I suspect you could install OpenOffice with the option deselected and then use Windows Explorer to associate doc files with OpenOffice, changing that to Word when required. Not tested.

Citrix

Lola Little posted an entirely different reason

"I am on a machine that was set up to conenct to Citrix to access MS Word. As a test I dropped a Word file on my desktop - I clicked to open it and it goes through Citrix instead of using the local copy of Word- so it makes sense the RoboHelp wouldn't be able to find my local copy of Word. I'm in the process of working with my sys admin to look into this further.

Update- the sys admin disabled the citrix agent - the citrix icon no longer appears in the system tray. This also causes the .DOC extenstion to be associated with the local copy for Word instead of the Citrix copy. Next he rebuilt my profile. Works now!"

Missing Images

R Kohler posted that images were not appearing in their printed document and nothing here had helped. Later they posted:

I discovered that the images that were missing in the printed doc were surrounded by H3 tags instead of P tags. I replaced the H3 tags with P tags and now all the images show up in the printed doc.

Worth checking out.


James Skaggs reported:

There is a fix on the Adobe Web site for printed documentation issues whereby several DOT files must be updated to resolve issues related to the generation of printed documents. The description of the fix does NOT specifically state that it fixes this particular problem, but it
does...

As it turned out, I had installed this fix several months back . My co- worker did not. Consequently, the project generated documentation fine on my machine, but my co-worker was getting the boxes with the red X for every image in the document.

As soon as I applied the printed documentation patch and overwrote the old DOT files in RoboHelp on her workstation, she was able to generate the printed documentation, and the images showed up just fine.

Peter Grainge Note: These patches are for X5.

Another cause can be after you have imported a Word document. Word puts the images in a sub-folder but that does not get created in RoboHelp. Look at your project in Windows Explorer and verify the images are in such a sub-folder. In RoboHelp, right-click the topic and select New | Folder. Create a folder with exactly the same name as in Windows Explorer. You will see the images getting added to the folder and you can leave them there or move them.

Printed documentation error messages

If you get one of the first three messages below, you could try reducing your security level to Medium (In Word, go to Tools | Options | Security | Macro Security). Obviously you must only do that if permitted by your company's policies.

If that fails or you get the other messages, this link might be worth a try for X5 users.

  1. The file contains macros with an expired or revoked signature.? Since you are running under High Security Level, these macros will be disabled.
  2. The macros in this project are disabled. Please refer to the online help or documentation of the host application to determine how to enable macros.
  3. The Word VBA macro version registered is incorrect. Please reinstall printed documentation.
  4. Microsoft Word has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
  5. Unable to generate Printed Documentation. Please contact technical support.

VBA Macro Version Update 14 Feb 2014
Adobe sent me these instructions that worked for one customer using RoboHelp 11 and Word 2013. Click here to download the file.
- Take a backup of the registry by running 'regedit'.
- Select 'Computer'
- Use option File > Export
- Save the reg file so that it can be restored if necessary.
- Extract macro_version.reg from the downloaded zip file.
- Double click the file to run it.
The registry will be amended and should allow you to generate printed documentation.
Do not use this fix if you are not familiar with working in the registry and / or if your company policies do not permit you to make registry changes. See assistance from someone qualified.

Images printing upside down and reversed

See Item 17 in Snippets -Features and Use.

Word has not been started on this computer.

Mike Walsh reported this problem even though Word has been used. He found opening a RoboHelp for Word project fixed it. Seems like a missing registry entry that opening RoboHelp for Word fixed.

It can also occur when your IT department has set up your profile on a network drive. Olaf found a solution for this problem. In Word > Tools > Options > File Locations he changed the location for the "user templates" and "startup" to a folder he created as c:\robohelp\startup. Then he copied the RoboHelp Templates (PrintDoc.dot, Style Mapping.dot and RoboHook.wll) to the new "startup" folder and started Word so that the RoboHelp templates were active.
Next he started RoboHelp HTML and tried to generate printed documentation. For a short time he saw a message "waiting for register VBA macros" and then the printed documentation worked. Finally he changed the path back to the original roaming profile folders and the printed documentation still worked.

The Document Wizard cannot locate Microsoft Word. Please install Microsoft Word before generating printed documentation.

Al Scott reported he came across this one when using a new computer. Quite simply Word had not been used and had not been through its initial startup processes. He opened Word, completed the few fields of information required and then RoboHelp was happy.

Topics created with a message No Data

Hadjira posted on the RoboHelp forum working with Word 2003 the printed output wasn't created properly. The created file only contained topic titles and instead of text there was a message "No Data".

After investigation Hadjira found the cause. "In one of my projects containing two Word documents, one was printed fine and the second was not. After a long research I found out the difference between those documents: in the second one, the option "automatically update document styles" was activated in the menu Tools - Templates and Add-Ins. I switched the automatic template update off and it worked fine.

Topic footer appearing in body of printed document

We know that topic headers and footers do not carry across to printed documentation. One person found though that his footers were appearing, not in the footer section but at the bottom of the body of each page. He didn't want the footer at all, much less there. Again it took a lot of trial and error before I began to associate the problem with the item below "Table borders missing and / or duplicated". When those meta tags were removed, the footer stopped appearing!

Tables overrun the margins

When RoboHelp generates printed output, it sends tables to Word as the defined width unless that width is greater than the width between the margins. Then it does the following:

If there are no merged cells, the table is scaled to fit the width between the margins.

If there are merged cells, the table does not get scaled and overruns the margins.

Numbering continues instead of restarting at 1

Earl Eddings had a problem when generating very large documents. For the most part his lists were correctly starting each list at 1 but towards the end of large documents the numbering did not restart.

His solution was simple albeit I don't doubt it took some time to work it out. Immediately before each list, Earl enters a line of text such as "Follow these steps" to which he applies a style called Num-Heading. Then he creates the list and applies a style called Num-Text. Both Num-Heading and Num-Text are set up in the CSS he uses and are just paragraph styles with no numbering applied, the numbering is applied using the RoboHelp numbering icon.

When Earl generates his printed document he maps those styles to a style he has added to his Word template, call that whatever you like, something like rh_list_temp makes it easy to spot.

Earl's Word template also has two important styles set up called Num-Heading also called Num-Text, the same names as in the RoboHelp CSS. The Num-Heading style in Word has been set up to have a multi-level list attached to it. This needs to be set up in Word 2003 as Word 2007 and 2010 handle multi-level list numbering in a different way. It should be possible to set up an equivalent method if you only have access to Word 2007 but I didn't go into that.

These are the screenshots that Earl sent me showing how the list is set up.

Notice the first level is tied to Num-Heading and has no numbering and the second level is tied to Num-Text.

Once the document has been generated, Earl uses Word's find and replace to find all instances of the rh_list_temp style and replace them with the Num-Heading style. As Word does that, it corrects any lists that have continued numbering instead of restarting.

If you have Word 2010, that requires you to have RoboHelp 9 where there is an easier solution. Instead of using single level lists convert all your lists to multi-level lists even if you only use the top level. The reason is simple. RoboHelp 9 allows you to map RoboHelp multi-level lists to Word multi-level lists. Because of the way Word works, all lists will start at 1 and ignore any numbering restarts you have set up. If you wanted lists to restart numbering, that would be a problem (as described in the Printed Documentation section of multi-level lists) but for this purpose, that problem becomes a solution!

UPDATE 16/01/12

Caroline Wilson recently sent me a PDF file with her procedure which is very similar and I understand it also avoids the need to find and replace the styles. Click here to download Caroline's steps. They are nicely documented with screenshots.

Other Issues

Issue

Description

Unable to generate a document for none of the above reasons

Nested Tables

One poster was unable to generate a document even after going through all the options listed elsewhere in this topic. The cause was eventually tracked down to some nested tables and once these were removed, the document could be generated.

This does not mean that you cannot nest tables and print, just that if you have a problem, then consider this as a cause. You might be luckier.

Virus Checkers

Check your anti-virus program settings.

Norton:

Norton has a script blocking feature that can be set to Stop All Suspicious Activities. After changing that to Ask Me What To Do, and authorising RoboHelp's scripts, another poster was able to generate printed documentation.

McAfee:

Craig Clarke posted the following:

This is a specific problem with Robohelp and McAfee when trying to generate printed output.

  1. Open McAfee Security Centre.
  2. Got to the Virus Scan tab.
  3. Click on the Configure Virus Scan Options link.
  4. On the Active Sheild tab there is an 'Advanced' button right at the bottom of the window.
  5. Click on the Advanced button.
  6. Click on Exploits
  7. Uncheck the Enable Script Stopper checkbox.

I have found no other suitable way to do this with McAfee and spent hours fiddling around with options. Just adding robohtml.exe to the trusted applications did not work. Personally, I only uncheck this option when creating printed output as it obviously compromises security. I've had similar problems with other Help Authoring Tools when generating printed output and I suspect it is to do with the integration with Word.

Style in output is not the same as in the source

This can occur if you have used more than one style sheet in your online help and they have different definitions for say the <p> tag and then you map to a Word template. You have effectively told it to use the style in the template rather than the source and there is only one version of the style there.

Table borders missing and / or duplicated

I found this using RoboHelp 7 whereas I had not had the problem before. Some borders were double thickness in the printed output while others were missing. In the online help, there was no traceable problem.

The cure seemed to be removing two meta tags. The topic had been created from a Word import and these two tags had been added by RoboHelp:

<meta name=Originator content=ImportDoc>

<meta name=OriginalFile content="filename.doc">

As soon as I removed those tags and generated again, the problem had gone.

I later found that viewing a document with the problem in Word 2007 cured it. Open the same document in Word 2003 and the problem was still there.

Dropdown text not formatted as specified

If your dropdown text is formatted to be in italics, you will find that it does not survive the trip to printed documentation, even if you have mapped to a Word template where the style is formatted as being italic. I took this up with Adobe and they advised that it is because of a bug in Word.

I then found a bizarre workaround. Add a row of asterisks in the paragraph before and after the dropdown text as below and then generate your printed document. You don't like that in your topics or documents? Not a problem. After you have generated once, you can go back and delete the asterisk and the dropdown will still appear in italics!!

****************************************

Dropdown text

****************************************

The other option is to use a colour for you dropdown text as that will survive the trip.

Content of tables is not formatted correctly in Word / PDF outputs

You have put some content in a table that looks OK in the Design Editor and in online outputs but is incorrect in Word / PDF outputs. Here's the explanation.

RoboHelp's table editor requires you to define the font and style for the content. If you look at the Edit tab in the ribbon you will see your CSS file selected but the style field will show None. The HTML written for any online outputs will show whatever you have defined for the table style but it does not work for printed documentation, be it Word or PDF. Fortunately, there is a solution.

Font in printed documentation to be same as OLH

If the font and font size are to be the same in the printed output as in the online help, it's simple. Simply select the content of the table and apply the style(s) you want from the styles in the dropdown. You can use just one style or many. When you generate the printed documentation those styles will hold.

Font in printed documentation NOT to be same as OLH

Perhaps you want your online help to be 12 point but only 10 point in printed documentation or you want a different font or font colour, all quite normal requirements. This requires rather more work. The time is in the initial setup and after that, it is easy.

The first thing to note is that to overcome this problem is that in the print dialog you must map to a Word document, even if you are only generating a PDF. This option will not work if you select to map to a CSS as no mapping of individual styles is available. These are the steps I use.

  1. In RoboHelp's Style Pod, select Edit for the table style you are using. Change the colour of the font to red. If you have existing topics using the table style, you will see at this point the text is now red.
  2. In your CSS, create the styles that you can apply to the content to override the default red. I suggest table_heading and table_text. Define them as required for the online outputs.
  3. Go through all your topics that use the table style and override the content with these styles.
  4. Whenever you create a new topic that uses the table style, as soon as you enter any content it will be in red signalling that you need to apply the required styles.
  5. When you generate online help, the appearance will be as defined for the new styles.
  6. The first time you do this at least, check all topics in the output for red text to make sure you did apply a style from the dropdown. Ideally always check all topics to make sure you didn't add a new topic and somehow miss the bright red!
  7. For the printed documentation you now need a Word template set up. This is what takes time to set up initially. I suggest you open the supplied Rh Style Mapping template. The reason I suggest editing the supplied template rather than using your own is because of problems I have seen over the years. People report a problem that goes away when they use the supplied template rather than their own, even though apparently their template is good. It may not be logical but it is fact.
    Edit the existing styles as required but ignore any existing Table Text styles. The template can be found in the root of your project and I suggest you keep an unedited backup somewhere safe.
  8. Create two new styles. Here the naming is important. Assuming you created table_heading and table_text in your CSS, create something like Table Heading XX and Table Text XX where XX is something to help you and any other authors readily identify it when mapping. I used the company initials. Using the existing styles will not work.
  9. Now open the Printed Documentation layout and work through it until you get to the last page. There you must select mapping to a Word template and select the template you have edited.
  10. The styles used in the the topics are displayed on the left and should be mapped to the styles in the Word template on the right. The important bit here is to map table_heading and table_text to the new styles in the template, Table Heading XX and Table Text XX.
  11. Generate your printed output, be it Word or PDF or both and it should be displayed correctly.

If you feel this should be easier, please submit a feature request. My own view is that the table editor should not require you to define the styles for the content because those definitions cannot be mapped when generating printed documentation. Instead it should allow you to select styles that are in your CSS already. It would not affect the online output but it would solve this problem.

Please follow this link to submit a feature change. The more people who do so, the higher it gets prioritised.

Donations

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Topic Revisions

Date

Changes to this page

18 Apr 2017

"Content of tables is not formatted correctly in Word / PDF outputs" added.

18 Feb 2017

Topic reviewed. Item relating to older versions of RoboHelp and/or Word removed. Any screenshots may differ in your version of RoboHelp but the functionality is the same.

26 Jan 2016

How to get dropdown text to print in italics added to Other Issues.

26 Jan 2016

Additional reason added to Topics created from import of a Word document.

14 Jan 2014

VBA Macro Version fix added.

18 Aug 2013

Same topic prints twice added.

16 Jan 2012

Caroline Wilson's list numbering method added.

14 Oct 2011

Earl Eddings' list numbering method added.

15 Jun 2011

Link to Lists added.

01 Jun 2011

Items reviewed and minor amendments made.

12 Apr 2010

Blank line problem covered.

19 Dec 2009

Tables overrun the margins in Word added.

19 Jul 2009

Word has not been started on this computer updated with a second solution.

07 Jun 2008

Word has not been started added.

03 May 2008

Topic footer appearing in body of printed document added.

17 Feb 2008

"Malformed topics message" item updated.

"Missing images in output to Word 2003" item updated.

12 Jan 2008

Table borders and meta tag problem added.

10 Oct 2007

R Kohler's tip re missing images added.

04 May 2007

Items from Snippets added.

15 Sep 2006

Problem caused by a closing bracket without an opening bracket added.

30 Jul 2006

Malformed topics issue added.

02 Jun 2006

Word issues amended with Eileen Suszek's neat solution to the Word 2003 missing images problem.

31 May 2006

Broken Links section revised thanks to Jefferson Scher fixing a spacing problem.

28 May 2006

Broken Links section added.

25 Mar 2006

Added possibility of Norton Anti Virus blocking scripts and preventing documentation from being generated. Also certain strings in a RoboHelp for Word project can cause generation to choke.

12 Mar 2006

New message 3 added under "Printed documentation error messages"

26 Feb 2006

"Style in output is not the same as in the source" added to Other Issues.

16 Feb 2006

Scope of topic amended to cover any print issues.

12 Jan 2006

Amended to include Duplicated Topics.

14 Jun 2005

New topic.