How To Print These Free Books

If you are unfamiliar with the process of printing books you may have some trouble making signatures out of the typeset PDFs available in the library section on my webpage. This section will help you so that you can make use of them. This information will be presented in the format of concepts.

Concept I. A “signature” is a stack of pages folded together to make a book. To learn to make a book you have to learn to make signatures.

Most books, because of their length have multiple signatures bound together in some way (either stitched together or glued), but little books, pamphlets and so on, only have one signature. A lot of times single signature books are stapled together like comic books are.

Signatures are called by that name because printers used to mark them to keep them in order.

Concept II. To make a signature you’ll need to print on both the back-side and front-side of the sheets of paper.

Since we are going to print two pages on each side of the paper our document is going to have four pages. As a fairly standard rule in order to make signatures you’ll need to make sure that the amount of pages in your document is a multiple of four. So a four page document would be fine, or an eight, or a twelve, etc. You can use blank pages (or simply reprint the same blank page multiple times) if your document doesn’t have enough pages to be a multiple of four.

Concept III. After the pages are printed you fold them in half so that they can be opened like a book.

To save time as to soften the crease of the fold it’s common to fold multiple pages simultaneously as a stack.

You can be choosey as to how many pages to stack together when folding them. Because a large stack of pages are difficult to fold together you usually fold them in stacks of just a few at a time.

You can fold the pages individually, but that takes a lot of time.

Another reason that you may want to fold pages simultaneously as a stack is because a very sharp fold is not always desirable in books with multiple signatures. If you look at older books usually the fold is rather soft.

Two reasons you may consider a soft fold is that in theory the book will be more durable since the paper is not as heavily damaged during the folding process and the center of the signature will stay open more easily, which is sometimes desirable.

In most cases single signature books are folded will a sharp crease because they have no weight to hold them closed when lying on their sides as thicker books do.

If you are using thicker paper you won’t be able to fold many pages together at the same time. I usually fold only three pages together simultaneously, but some book makers fold many more.

There are two disadvantages to folding a large stack of pages together simultaneously.

First; it is more difficult.

Second; because of the loss of visible paper near the edge due to the page having to circumvent a wider fold the edges of your book will be more ragged. This is sometimes desirable however and I happen to like books done in this fashion.

If you do not like a more ragged appearance to the edges of your book you can use a sharper crease by stacking less pages together when doing your fold, using more pressure when folding the pages, or you can trim the edges, which is difficult without a professional book guillotine, however an edged lever type of paper cutter available at office supply stores may work for trimming edges of thin stacks (or else you can separate the pages and trim them individually before reassembling.

In any case once all the pages of your signature are folded and trimmed however you like make certain the pages are placed in the right order again to make a correct signature.

Concept IV. The direction that you fold the pages should result in the fold being on the left hand side of you if you were to lay the book on a table while looking at the cover or whatever front the book may have.

If printed and folded correctly the first page of text (which is usually a title page, but could be any text) should always be seen on the right hand side of an open book.

Concept V. Desktop printers usually print on the backside of the paper first. In other words, if you put a stack of papers in your printer try and mark the page that is facing upwards (the side which you can see) and print something the piece of paper will feed up into the printer and exit so that the side that was facing down (which was the unmarked side) is the side that will be printed on.

So first we print on the backside of the paper and then return that same sheet into the printer with newly printed text facing up so that the next printing prints on the blank side.

To prevent the second printing on that sheet from being upside down you should take note of how the paper came out. It’s been my experience that desktop printers consider the right hand side of the print to be the top when printing long-way, which is what we are doing here, so make sure that when you put the paper back in the tray to print the other side that you put the text facing up so that you can see it and so that the top of the text is to your right. That will allow you to print on the blank side, without the text being upside down.

Concept VI. We can divide a book in half so that the first half can be called the “near side” and the second half the “far side.”

The near side includes all the pages in the first half of the book and we listed them sequentially. The near side pages are listed as, 1, 2, 3, etc.

The far side includes all the pages in the second half of the book and are listed in reverse sequence such as 608,607,606.

When we are printing we will print the near side pages sequentially, but we will print the far side pages in reverse.

Concept VII. We print two pages of text on each side of the paper so that each sheet when folded becomes four pages in our book. Sometimes we purposely print blank pages for spacing or aesthetics. I include a blank page in my PDF documents either at the beginning or the ending so that I can use it whenever I need a blank page. Lately I’ve been including it at the end rather than at the beginning so that the document is better formatted for electronic viewing.

Concept VIII. One each side of the paper we will print one near side, and one far side page until we reach the middle of the book.

Concept IX. We will print the pages in a logical order we call a schedule.

A printing schedule is not easy to figure out in your head so beginners should figure it out by making a blank book in this manner:

Take scrap paper (from a cheap notebook or whatever) and cut it into small sheets so that you can make a miniature book. Begin to fold the papers as you would if you were making a signature.

Once you have a sufficient number of pages to make a small signature (maybe six or seven sheets) fold them together to make a signature and mark the piece of paper that would be like the first text page or cover of the book as page 1.

Open the signature and mark the next page (the page you would read next if it had text on it as page 2, mark the next page 3 and so on.

When you run out of pages add another sheet of paper to the top of the signature as needed to keep counting pages until you have reached half the number of page of where you want the signature to stop.

In other words if you want your signature to have 50 pages keep adding pages and marking them in proper order until you get to the number 25, which is half of the total number of pages you want.

Half of the mini-book will now marked with numbers, but the other half will be blank.

Keep marking the pages in sequential order without adding any additional pages.

When the book is fully marked you can take it apart and see how each sheet of paper in your full sized book will have to be printed to duplicate the model you made.

Remember your model book can include blank pages. If your book has an odd number of pages you will have a blank page at the end in any case. Remember to mark blank pages as “blank.”

Concept X. Look at your mini book and notice that the sheets have a not only a front-side and backside, but also left and right hand sides.

Page 1 will be on the right hand side of the first page and next it on the left side will be the last page in your book, which either contains text or is blank. This is how the first page will be printed.

The first page of text in a western book is always a “right hand page” and the last page of text or the blank page at the end of the book is always a “left hand page” and both of those are printed on the same side of the same sheet of paper.

Now if you turn the paper over you will see that page 2 is on the left hand side and the second to last page is on the right hand side.

That means that on the backside of the paper the “near side” pages are always on the right hand side and the “far side” on the left, but on the front side of the paper the near side pages are on the left hand and far side on the right.

That is why it is difficult to figure out in your head and why a model book made from scrap paper can be so useful.

Concept XI. We need to setup the Adobe Reader software (which is used to read PDF files) to print our book properly.

First open the PDF file in Adobe Reader (which can be obtained for free from the Abode site) click (in the menu) “File-Print.” This will open the printing dialog where you can set options.

Make sure the printer you want to use is selected in the “Printer” dropdown and use these options….


Page Sizing and Handling : Multiple

Pages per sheet : 2

Page order : Horizontal

Print Page border : no

Print on both sides of paper : no

Orientation : Portrait

Auto-rotate : no

Comments and Forms : Document and Markups

Now make sure that the page size is set to 11 x 8.5 inches (visible above the page preview on the right hand side). If it’s not click on the “Properties” button next to the printer type and change the paper size there.

Now here’s the trick, you are going to want to print the pages in a particular order depending on the document. That is set in by “Pages to Print” which by default is set to “all” but should be set to “Pages” where you can specify specific pages to print.

The pages you want to print will vary depending on the document, but the concept is like this…

You will need to enter two numbers separated by a comma like “13,14” or something. The first number is what is going to print on the left hand side of the page, the second is what is going to print on the right hand side. By default the program wants to use a dash instead of a comma. Don’t let it. That’s for printing all pages between the two numbers. A comma means only print the pages you list.

According to our printing schedule (or our model book) we have fifty pages to our book. So we look at our model and see that we are going to need to set the printing like this…

50, 1
That prints page 50 on the left hand side and page 1 on the right. We print that out and then we flip sheet over and reinsert it into the tray and print…2, 49There, it’s now printed. That’s the first sheet from which we can make our signature.Remember that at the end of our document we have a blank page we can use anytime so that if our book was a single signature which had an odd number of pages we could set up the first printing like this…51,1That would print a blank page on the left hand side and the first page of text on the right hand side. Then of course the other side of the sheet would have had to be 2, 50.I am now going to post the printing schedule for printing Erasmus’ Complaint of Peace which I’ve already figured out so that you can print it easily. The document has 51 pages of text and page 52 is a blank page.first sheet…backside (first thing to print) : 52, 1
front side (flip the page over and print this) :2,51
second sheet…
bs : 50,3
fs : 4,49
bs : 48, 5
fs : 6,47

bs : 46,7
fs : 8,45

bs : 44,9
fs : 10,43

bs : 42 ,11
fs : 12,41

bs : 40,13
fs : 14,39

bs : 38,15
fs : 16,37

bs : 36,17
fs : 18,35

bs : 34,19
fs : 20,33

bs : 32,21
fs : 22,31

bs : 30,23
fs : 24,29

bs : 28,25
fs : 26,27

Done. We have our signature. In this case our full book was a single signature, so we just fold the sheets a few a time until we can put it all together and either staple or stitch it together. For my copy I also folded a blank piece of paper around the signature to make a blank cover that will help protect the text before I stitched it together. You can use fancy paper, card-stock, or watercolor paper with a nice drawing or painting on it instead or you can design a nice cover on the computer and print that. Just remember that because the cover is text and the first thing you see it should be on the right hand side of the piece of paper you are printing and the left hand side would be the back cover.

I will try to include a printing schedule at the end of every document, but I’ll need to update some of them to include that.

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