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I have created a document with facing pages. It’s for a foldable flyer with four flyer-pages in total, each in A5 format. The printer shop does the folding for me, but expects the input document to consist of two document-pages with a bleeding of 2mm; on the first document-page shall be the outer flyer-pages (so back and front, so pages 4+1) side-by-side combined into a single A4 page (with the bleeding of 2mm); on the second document-page shall be the inner flyer-pages (so pages 2+3).

With Scribus, I created a scribus-document with facing pages for this and a bleeding of 2mm. I created the flyer with no issues.

However, I cannot export the finished scribus-document into a pdf-document as specified by the printer shop. There is no option to have each pair of the facing scribus-pages being combined into a single pdf-document-page.

How can I achieve this?

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  • I'm not a Scribus user... but what you are referring to - 2 pages side by side - is called a Spread. Look for options in the PDF export for "Spreads". Again, I don't use Scribus, so I can't emphatically state the option is there.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 19:55
  • You are doing it right: It is best, in Scribus, to have your pages as pages. You might be tempted to do the imposition inside Scribus (like arrange two pages on a larger page). But we are in 2022. If you have true pages, you can print as a flyer (need an external tool, see my answer) and you can also make PDF booklets for distribution or use your pages on websites etc. We learnt over several years, that your approach gives the most flexibility for multi media final products. If you only ever need paper, consider to do the pagination inside Scribus and skip imposition. Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 12:39
  • Generally, your printer should be the one who handles page imposition. It's not something you should have to do in Scribus. Speak to your printer about this. To be perfectly honest, the request is unreasonable IMHO. Imposition is the printers job.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 12:42
  • I don't disagree with "the print provider should" but for 4 pages... 1 (tabloid) signature.. I'm often asked to provide spreads. I don't think it's out of the "norm" for a single signature. And it's generally just a matter of shuffling single pages in the app before generating a PDF. Note that in InDesign, I merely set up single pages as spreads as 4-1 and 2-3. Then export to PDF. If exported as spreads, they are good. If exported as pages, I move page 4 to the end in Acrobat and save. This is easier than "making" spreads in a PDF.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 22:24

1 Answer 1

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Scribus - up to version 1.5.8 - does not contain any tools for imposition, as far as I know.

Typically the work flow is that first you export your "raw" PDF pages from Scribus and then use another tool to arrange as needed.

If you search for imposition and for PDF, you will find many free tools and even some that go with the open source idea, like Scribus. Many of the "easy" ones, will not be able to handle bleed correctly.

Personally, I have had frustrating times, trying to do it with free Adobe Reader, as there is some size-change happening, and out of my control.

A colleague in our project likes the new "MS print to PDF" on her Windows computer. I do not know details, but normally she gets all her booklets done fine, so it must be working. This is just in-house printing on a laser on A4 sheets, so no bleeds, no final cutting involved. You could use this to make sample-printouts in your own office to show around for feedback and for final proof-reading.

I have an old licence for Adobe Acrobat and that can do imposition, but is expensive and I do not know recent versions and their features.

What I ended using, and really like a lot is MONTAX imposer: It is commercial and there is a limited free version, which will only work with A4 sheets max. Since you need a 2mm bleed, you will exeed the A4 sheet limit and would need to spend 95 US$. That sounds a lot, when coming from Scribus. If you are interested, you could reduce your pages in Scribus in a dummy-copy and just try out the free version for a few minutes.

When you first look at MONTAX imposer, it might seem to be an overkill. What some call a steep learning curve. But if you do your flyer more than once, you might like it.

I like it a lot, it even gives me useful feedback when I overlook something. And there are plenty inbuilt samples to guide me; I even learn the English vocabulary about imposing from this tool, that does nothing but.

The vendor is kind and helped me, even as a non-paying customer, when I first started. If I ever had a bigger project, I would spend some and get the fitting package.

Side-track-idea: our online print shops allow us to select a "product" (like your four in on flyer) and then upload single pages and they give us very clear instructions on how to name each page so that everything will end up where it needs to be.

I am not saying "change your printer" but imposition is something that falls between the layout and the physical printing and is often done at the printer, even if you do some "virtual imposition" at your desk. Only the print-shop can know the real size of the sheets (or roll) of paper and so they always have to do some final imposition anyway.

I am in no way afiliated, just sharing something I appreciate with each newsletter we are putting out (hundreds of semi-automatic impositions after using the ScribusGenerator script).

The products page of MONTAX imposer

Finally, I am just sharing a personal like about one tool. I am not claiming it is the best solution for the question. But it can most certainly do it: It gives you full control, and it knows about bleed and where to leave it and where to remove it (where two pages meet at a fold). hth

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  • Although I am not a Scribus user, and I generally agree with all the comments regarding imposition... 4 pages, 2 spreads, 1 signature... is not really asking too much in my opinion. There's no real need for imposition software. It's easy enough in most layout apps to configure pages as 4, 1, 2, 3. Or just move page 4 to the start of the file before generating PDF spreads (see comment under question). But again, I don't know how easy/difficult this is in Scribus specifcially.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 22:44
  • Thanks! Unfortunately, using commercial or even non-free software is out of the question for me. I now ended up creating a single-page A4 landscape document in Scribus and copied the contents to it from the original facing-pages A5 portrait document. I’d still be interested in other possible answers to this for the future, so I leave open the question and will not accept your answer. But thanks nonetheless, you have an upvote by me!
    – k.stm
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 23:17
  • @Scott I am not part of the Scribus development team. I can only guess that they are working based on the famous Unix philosophy. The range of use-cases for Scribus is huge from hobby level to regular newspapers. So some need simple, some need really complex. Use cases for InDesign are mostly professional? Nice, to have some imposition included. I quote from the philosophy, part 1 out of 4: "Make each program do one thing well. To do a new job, build afresh rather than complicate old programs by adding new "features"." You can read more here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_philosophy Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 9:06
  • @k.stm I thank you for taking the time to share your present work-around. I noticed that no other answers have come so far. I had secretly hoped, that I was wrong, and that there is an "easy" way to do it in Scribus, or with a "close to Scribus" tool. Again: If you need this more often, it is worth to look for imposition tools, you will find some open source ones, I am sure: I have tried some free tools, and it is all about learning to think in 2.5D, some tools were real brain-twisters. But looking positively, they give full freedom to do "anything". Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 9:13

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