3 minute read

I only very rarely need to print something. However, printing things like grade reports and student schedules can come in handy. Since we don't have a community printer, I bought a simple single-side, black and white laserjet from Samsung (pictured). Most of the features for connecting to it, I turned off. Google cloud print, however, is surprisingly useful for printing from my phone or outside the office.

Beyond printing schedules every now and then, I would like to print research articles (PDFs) from journals and read them on the train. My Galaxy Note II makes reading PDFs possible, but not great. eBooks are much better... when will journals provide ebooks?

So the goal is, with a single-sided printer, print booklets from PDFs.

By booklets, I mean a taking a normal A4 sheet of paper, holding in landscape, and folding it in half to form a book with the 'spine' where the fold is. There are 2 pages on one sheet of paper, and we want to print on both sides, so 4 pages for 1 sheet of paper. See the picture below. The trick is page ordering.

Some software has 'booklet' mode when printing. In LibreOffice if you click on 'File-> Print' and select the "Page Layout" tab, there will be a "Brochure" option. This option will automatically order pages into a small booklet style. If you have a double-sided printer, congrats, you are done. If you have a single-sided printer, select "Page Sides->Include Front Sides / Right Pages". Then print, and put the paper back in the printer. For my printer, the paper prints on the top so I should keep the pages in the same rotation, and put the blank sides up.

"Booklet" options are easy to use if you are creating your own documents, but I want to print already created PDFs. I heard that Adobe Reader has a booklet mode, but I am on Linux and don't use Adobe Reader.

My default reader is "Document Viewer - Evince", and it does not have a booklet feature.

I came across the program "pdfbook" which basically rearranges PDF pages for you so you can print booklets. If you use pdfbook like so:

pdfbook journal-paper.pdf

It will output a pdf with 1 pages per sheet, but some of the pages are flipped over. I think this is intended for a double-sided printer. To be able to print with a single sided printer, we need to use the option '--short-edge'.

pdfbook --short-edge journal-paper.pdf

This will rearrange the pages with 2 pages per sheet, and all are facing upwards. There is just one more thing to do to print the booklet.

When printing, go to 'Print -> Page Setup Tab' and choose 'Only Print -> Even Sheets'.  Make sure that your printer says 1 page per sheet. If you print 2 pages per sheet, you will have 4 'pages' on one side of the paper.

After printing the even sheets, take the paper out of the printer. If you put the printed pages back in the printer in the order they are now, the first page will be on the bottom. We need to reverse the current order.

With the printed side facing you, put the first sheet on the table. Now put the next sheet on top of the first sheet with the printed side still facing you. Continue will the remaining sheets.

Once the sheets have been reordered, put the paper back in your printer with the printed side facing down (might be different on your printer). Now go to 'Print -> Page Setup Tab' and choose 'Only Print -> Odd Sheets'.

You will need to determine how to feed the paper into your printer, but this is the method that works for mine.

If someone were printing a lot, I may recommend getting a double-sided printer, but since I am printing less than one paper per month, this method works for me. It makes a nice little - but not too little -booklet, and saves toner and trees.