How to Print Sections or Signatures from a PDF File for Bookbinding

this is a short video on how I take a

PDF file and print it to sections that I

can bind

I’ve got an old arts and crafts catalog

that I’ve got the PDF off the Internet

and I’d like to bind it in a in a very

functional binding it’s not going to be

anything fancy before we get into the

process in detail maybe I should explain

some of the terminology a section or a

gathering or sometimes called a

signature especially in America is a

collection of sheets of paper that are

folded so it’s very common for sections

to have four sheets so I’ve just taken

four sheets of paper folded them now I’m

going through in numbering the pages so

a4 sheet section has 16 pages so 1 to 16

now if we unfold the sections we see

that the first sheet of paper has pages

1 and 16 on one side and pages 2 and 15

on the other side we can go through all

the sheets of paper and we can see what

pages they have printed on them the

process of arranging the pages like this

is called imposition to be very clear

this is a sheet of paper when it’s

folded it becomes a folio pages 1 & 2 is

a leaf and each side of the leaf is a

page or sheet section has eight leaves

and 16 pages what I’m looking at today

are sections that are printed at home on

a home printer however you may be lucky

enough to get sections from a small

press that’s been commercially

now they’ll normally come folded but

they can come as sheets in which case

you have to know the order in which to


fold them and they’ll look like this so

this was a set text from a what binding

competition that because of my YouTube

commitments I didn’t have time to bind

but I will use it for a project later in

the year so let’s get back to our arts

and crafts catalog it has 68 pages so

have some options I could do 5 16 page

sections which comes to 80 pages so I’d

have to pad this file out the extra

pages to make up 80 or I could do 612

page sections so it’s 3 sheets per

section which is 72 pages so that would

be an additional 4 pages and that’s

actually perfect because I can add a

blank leaf at the front and back of the

file so a leaf is 2 pages and they’ll

look like end pages on the book so I’m

just going to add two pages at the

beginning and end of the file now I’m

using Acrobat Pro to do this now I don’t

think the free version of Acrobat allows

you to add pages and you may have to use

a program like word to do that

once I’ve formatted the file the way I

want I’m going to use a little program

called booklet creator so I’ll drag the

file into booklet creator I’ll adjust

the parameters like the page the paper

size so I’ll use a4 it’ll get folded so

will be an a5 size book and then I

adjust to twelve pages per section it

calls it booklet so I find the folder to

save it in and I hit the create booklet


and it creates the imposition file so I

can now print this out and all the pages

will be in the correct order so it’s

  Book Production From Start To Finish, Digital Printing and Binding Perfect

important when printing it out to

correct print to the correct paper size

so it’s a4 paper and that the layout or

the binding edge is set to short edge if

you did long edge the reverse side of

the pages would be upside down obviously

you do need a printer that can do double

sided printing now before I paid for

Acrobat professional and booklet creator

this is how I used to do it so it opened

the file and finder that’s because I use

a Mac now you use the equivalent on a

Windows box and then I would print it

but instead of sending it to the printer

I would send it to a PDF file and I

would select the pages for a section so

pages 1 to 12 would be a three sheet

section send it to a PDF file and call

it section 1 and then I’ll do that 6

times to get my six sections so now I

would do from pages 13 to 24 for section

2 now I continue to do that for all the

other sections until I’ve reached the

end of the book


now I have six files one for each

section of the book now I open up each

of those individually with the free

Acrobat PDF reader

now it’s just a matter of printing out

each of those files as a booklet so you

hit print hit the booklet button you can

check the paper size though the printer

should be smart enough to detect to

detect the paper size but I often check

it anyway especially if you’ve got a

printer that prints a3 paper as well and

then it’s just a matter of hitting print

after visiting the printer you’ll have a

  Traditional Bookbinding

pile of paper that now has to be folded

in the correct order so we were doing

three sheet sections so we count off

three sheets and the first check is that

the page numbers are sequential on the

inside that’s correct

knock up to the head and fold the

section now we count out the next three

sheets check that the center pages are

sequential which is correct and you can

also check that the first page is the

next page after the last page of the

previous section so the two checks I

always do

and when you reach the end hopefully

there’s three sheets of paper if not you

miscounted somewhere now it’s just a

matter of punching the holes sewing the

book and making the cover now I’m going

to follow Peter for hands instructions

for doing a German stiffened paper

binding or a Steiff and brush on and

this is the subject of this week’s

actual video which will come out on

Saturday morning Saturday morning my

time so there’s an example of the

binding that I’ll do I’ll do five

variations of it based on the variations

in Peters web site and there are very

nice practical binding I hope you’ve

enjoyed this short video as always if

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