Imposing Task

I have a request of the LazyWeb, or the Expert-Readers Web, or something. It involves Macs, pages, PDF, and printing.

The problem is this: I produce a lot of documents for students. Custom and the material circumstances of production typically require that I print them on 8.5 × 11 paper, with roughly a 1-inch margin all ’round.

That’s not the most suitable format for reading or printing, though — otherwise, our bookshelves would be crammed with folio and quarto-sized volumes, instead of the much more common duodecimo size. No big problem; almost all word processors (and all page-layout programs, of course) permit me to write two columns on a landscape-oriented page, making a presentation functionally equivalent to a duodecimo page layout. (I’m waiting impatiently for Mellel to introduce columns — the major impediment to my making my annual word-processor application switch, in this case returning to Mellel from a year using Pages).

But: I’m not aware of a way conveniently to paginate such a volume by column (that is, “by simulated page”).

I’ve tried making the normative page size a half-sheet of , then printing the resulting page two-up, but the combinations of Mac OS X and my printers and PDF add a margin around the whole page, thus doubling the margin and reducing the area available for body copy. I’ve tried imposition programs (Cheap Impostor), and none of them seems to facilitate printing two-up pages side by side. Someone would be doing me, and the Web, a big favor if they could explain an effective way to produce pages with two columns (= side-by-side pages), numbered consecutively (= by page number, if I were photocopying from a bound work), without an excessive margin around the whole.

FYI: I have Pages, Mellel, Word, Appleworks, InDesign, RagTime — and probably other word processing and page layout software.

8 thoughts on “Imposing Task

  1. A simple solution that would work in Word and probably most other programs is to keep your handouts the way they are, but when you print them choose (for Word) to print two pages per page (under the Zoom feature in Windows). For Word Mac you choose “Layout” from the pull-down menu in the Print dialog box and choose 2 per page. make sure to do a print preview to double check before you print!

    Hope this helps.

  2. I, for one, hope someone suggests a solution that addresses the 2-up margin problem. I’m a student, and often I have to print journal articles from PDF and sometimes HTML. I print 2-up to save paper, but because of the margins, the text is always printed smaller than would otherwise be necessary.

  3. Good catch, Tyler, and it should work for other apps also. I had been negolecting that approach since it requires setting the type proportionately larger, and jiggling with margins and line spacing, in a way not determined by the WYSIWYG conventions to which I’ve gotten accustomed. That said, this is probably the best solutoin for the interim, even though it doesn’t help Jeremy with the added-margin problem in his printing.

  4. I’m not sure how Tyler’s description differs from your description of the problem AKMA.

    I think you might consider making all the page margins as small as possible, and then selecting 2-up printing from the print dialog. You’ll get the default margins for 2-up printing, but your “pages” will have less built-in margin, so overall you’ll gain printable area on the page.

    I just tried this with a Word document and I’m not sure how ideal the solution is. The gutter area is perhaps too “tight” but you may be able to tweak that by adjusting the “gutter” margin in Word’s Format menu.

  5. Dave,

    I just tried it in Mellel, and the result was adequate. The page proportions are wonky, and I had to edit in 18-point type, but it served. If I decide to go with this as a makeshift solution, I’ll experiment with a custom page dimension in order to use more of the vertical dimension of the page.

  6. You don’t really need those workarounds since you have InDesign. Here’s what you do:
    (1) Set up a new document with pages facing, in spreads. Page size that you input: 5.5W x 8.5H. All this can be done when you make the file initially or altered later, in Document Setup.
    (2) Somewhere in the preferences you can specify to put an automatic text box on each page, and to link them.
    (3) Type away, continuing to add new pages.
    (4) When it’s time to print, you make sure that you’ve got “Spreads” selected in the Print dialog box. InDesign gives you a schematic preview so you can tell if your two pages are going to fit on one 8.5 x 11 page in landscape print mode.
    (5) Ta-da! This should work. I’ve shortened this because I have InDesign CS on another computer and can’t quite remember everything. But this should do it, and you can do it in WYSIWYG mode! >>Gratuitous comment: this is yet another example of how the high-end layout apps will beat MS Word every time. The latter is simply not set up for this kind of thing.

  7. Betsy’s pretty much bang on there. The only thing I’d add is that once you’ve got an 8-page document which you want to print, fold and staple then imposition by hand becomes a real chore.

    Thankfully, InDesign CS 2 (not sure about CS, but earlier versions definitely didn’t) bundles a lite version of ALAP’s InBooklet imposition plugin which will happily do the hard work for you, provided you’re happy with fairly simple single-section stuff (suitable for folding and stapling), which 99% of people will be.

    I think that older versions bundled an applescript which did something similar (but probably required significantly more effort).

    When I was producing little orders of service every night over the summer, this literally saved me hours and hours of work. Well worth investigating.

  8. AKMA,

    I’ve used this:

    It requires acrobat, but it makes what your looking for quite easy in Pages. I used pages, setup a custom page size of a half sheet, set the margins etc. created my document and printed to a pdf using acrobat, and the quiteImposing plugin to impose and N-up onto a single sheet.

    it also works beautifully for tabloid sized newsletters etc.

    Hope it helps.

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