CSS supports paged media via print media queries. HTML has been created to support hypertext documents only but since then evolved and has a wide wariety of tags that when used with modern CSS, can be styled it almost any imaginable way.

Is the modern HTML and CSS a viable choice for storing print designs?

What I mean specifically is: is it a viable alternative to formats like SVGs, PSD.

I will make the question as specific as I can, in order to reduce ambiguity and make the possible answer as objective as they can be:

  1. I am asking about storing documents for print, not the design process (or tools needed in that process). Say you have an A4 invoice template and you want to store it in some print-ready format. Would HTML+CSS be as good option as any graphic vector formats?
  2. I am not asking about some posters, etc. but about some document with well-defined structure and not many bitmap graphics in it (example: invoice template).

1 Answer 1



  1. There is no explicit guarantee that you can render the document later the way it was made.
  2. Theres no guarantee that the external resources will work in the future, fonts etc.
  3. Theres no way to audit the trail, or integrity of the document. PDF can easily be marked for archivial so that it can not be modified without your signature (without it being obvious).
  4. Because of points above. Theres really no reason to store the file as HTML+CSS your system database can always re-generate the invoice. So having a css + html provides no additional benefit of having the data in your database in some other form.

But sure you can do this if you wish. PDF is as the current standards stand superior in many ways. But worse in a few.

  • > Theres no guarantee that the external resources will work in the future, fonts etc. That's not true, you can store the external resources locally as well.
    – syntagma
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 6:59
  • @syntagma only if you also store your browser version
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 6:59
  • this is like saying "only if you store PDF with Illustrator version". There are standards and browsers stick to them as much as (if not more than) graphics design software does.
    – syntagma
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 7:01
  • 1
    @syntagma yes but see PDF is a ISO standard, It is explicitly guaranteed that the standard is backwards compatible. Web is not developped at all with this in mind, things do break backwards compatibility all the time. And for legal purposes you might need to be able to archive the invoice for atleast 10 years if not 25. There are big vetsed interests to make PDF behave like this. But try to look backwards in web like this. Webpages are consumable formats, not archivial ones.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 7:03
  • 1
    Also its not all like saying to store pdf with illustrator versions. If you envoke the acival quality then your restriced to some subset of possible PDF functions that have a winder range of implementation than most fancy functions.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 7:10

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