Booklet Printing Basics

5 03 2009

Many businesses and individuals often have a need to only print one booklet at a time: one training manual, photo album, or portfolio. While booklet printing should generally be reserved for professional printing firms, it’s understandable that the occasional one-off might be necessary.

The vast majority of booklets are designed using software by Adobe called InDesign. I’ll spare you the details of how to set up a booklet since most of you will be very comfortable with InDesign already. Where most get confused is when it comes to imposition and creep. Imposition refers to how the pages are arranged so that they print in the proper order. Creep is what happens as outer pages must wrap around the inner pages, causing content to slowly “creep” towards the binding.

You basically have two options for booklet printing: use Adobe’s built in tools or look to third-party software. If you are using InDesign CS3, you are likely going to have a few frustrating hours ahead of you as trial and error – or outright confusion – are the biggest complaints that Adobe gets. InDesign CS4 has seen significant improvements, but it’s still far from ideal.

Third party software offers some excellent resources, such as the free “Booklet CE” by Carlsen Enterprises. Just download and follow the install instructions. Use the Windows -> Automation -> Scripts (Alt+Ctrl+F11) tool to browse to and run the software. Alternately, you can just double-click the script file while your document is open. 
Booklet CE will launch and make each page its own PDF file. Just select the imposition type and creep settings. Other standard features like printer marks (crop marks, color bars, registration marks) are also available:

bookletce3dialog

As a final reminder, your booklet needs to be in four page increments so the page count will work out appropriately. If you come up a few pages short, just leave them blank at the back of the booklet or add some endnotes or comments.

While not as easy as uploading a file and ordering from a printer, booklet printing for a single copy is sometimes necessary and will save time. You can use the built in software in Adobe’s InDesign if you are using CS4, but since many people do not have the latest release, the third party Booklet CE is an excellent alternative.

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