I have created an 8 page brochure with InDesign and exported a PDF for my print guy. At the moment the pages are exported as:

1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8

But for print he'd like them formatted like this:

8-1, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5

How can I achieve that in InDesign (while keeping automated page numbering) or during the export process?

Edit: Or is that how PDFs should be laid out, and is there something he should be doing to my PDF before sending the print job?

  • Wouldn't pages 3 and 6 swap? So that they would be properly positioned for duplex printing? I always found in proper impositioning the even numbers go on the left and the odd number pages go on the right.
    – user9482
    Jan 20, 2013 at 7:12
  • I had the same question, I did it by printing to a PostScript file (insead of a physical printer), then opening the PostScript file in Preview or Adobe Acrobat to create a PDF. Step-by-step: 1. In the "File" menu, select "Print Booklet"; 2. Click "Print Settings…"; 3. For "Printer", select "PostScript File"; 4. For "PPD", select "Device Independent"; 5. Adjust any crop, bleed, etc settings; 6. Click "OK"; 7. Click "Print" and you be prompted to name the file. Video tutorial: youtube.com/watch?v=L8qKkkNEpOI (I'd add a full answer but I need more cred on this stack first)
    – Beau Smith
    Jun 3, 2016 at 20:32

8 Answers 8


Honestly, this is the print provider's job. There's no reason a designer should be doing pagination for press. That being said, I realize that some print providers are lazy or at times, honestly don't know how to paginate native files, or aren't using a PDF workflow yet (unbelievably) and don't know how to paginate a PDF. There are software packages specifically for prepress to paginate/trap/etc various file formats. In my experience, no quality print provider will ever ask for a file paginated in a specific manner.

Most commonly PDFs should be exported as single page PDFs (not spreads) so the printer can paginate however they need to.

The easiest way to repaginate, without altering your original INDD file, or purchasing imposition plugins/software, is to export as single page PDF. Create a new Indesign document, and import the single PDF pages and paginate to the printer spreads. Then export as PDF in spreads.

  • 1
    Is your Indesign document set up in single pages/facing pages? In other words, if the trim size is 8x10, are the pages 8x10 or 16x10? If 8x10, simply export to PDF and DO NOT check the "Spreads" option when exporting. You'll get individual pages in the PDF that way. If your page size is a spread (a la 16x10) then you'll need to split the spreads in Indesign and make single pages first. You should NOT need Acrobat Pro for this. Although it can make it easier in some cases. You simply need a PDF where each page is it's own page. You do not want a PDF with pages 2 and 3 on the same PDF page.
    – Scott
    Feb 1, 2012 at 15:55
  • 1
    If you are doing this yourself, look into "creep" which is an adjustment one needs to make based upon the thickness of the paper. The more pages there are, the less trivial the paper thickness becomes, and this will offset the margins of the document left-to-right, depending on where the page is in the finished product. Imposing software often handles this for you (you give it a "creep factor").
    – horatio
    Feb 1, 2012 at 18:05
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    "My print guy is used to handling Word documents and resizing family snaps" hmm...might be time to look for a new printer.
    – DA01
    Feb 1, 2012 at 18:16
  • 3
    creep is important, but not for an 8 page brochure.
    – DA01
    Feb 1, 2012 at 18:16
  • 1
    I didn't see a "spreads" option when exporting, but in File->Document Setup I could untick "Facing Pages". Thanks for your help that's done the trick!
    – Tak
    Feb 1, 2012 at 21:09

When you're in an unusual situation like this (and Scott's answer is dead on -- it's a very rare case that you need this in professional work), the straightforward solution is to use File > Print Bookletand select PDF Printer for the output. It will produce printer spreads.

There's a problem with this workflow on the Mac since Apple broke the Adobe PDF engine in Snow Leopard, but you can still get there by exporting to PDF and using the Booklet printing option in the Acrobat print dialog.

  • Not that I would dare to dispute the great Alan, but... really? This is rare? We did it for pretty much every document which was more than two pages. The only four-page-plus docs which weren't in printer's spreads were the ones which were "PDF only" and never printed. Or is the idea that the shop did their own pre-press work rare? Feb 2, 2012 at 16:26
  • Let's put it this way: the normal workflow is to create the document as reader spreads and hand it off to prepress as a PDF, single pages or (rarely) reader spreads. In my own experience, they hate getting printer spreads for anything other than a 4-pager. Perhaps the imposition software belongs to a union. :) Feb 2, 2012 at 20:32
  • I'm very surprised a printer would want anything else than single page PDFs. I have dealt only with relatively high end printers though.
    – e100
    Feb 3, 2012 at 16:50
  • 1
    Single pages is definitely the norm, but on occasion I've been asked for reader spreads, particularly where tricky double-truck images or graphics are involved. It's another one of those "ask your printer" situations. :) Feb 3, 2012 at 22:01

The discussion and info in other answers on where and by who this should be done in the design > prepress > print workflow is great, but it bugs me a little that the original simple practical question doesn't have an answer.

So, let's assume there's some good reason to need to change a 1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8 page order to 8-1, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5 in InDesign, before sending off the PDF. How?

It's really easy:

  1. In the arrow menu off the top right of the Pages window, make sure "Allow document pages to shuffle" is unticked. "Allow document pages to shuffle" is Adobe-speak for something like "Force document pages into default pattern". (see also)
  2. From here it's just dragging and dropping the pages into place
  3. It's a good idea to make sure that the centrefold is in the appropriate place for each spread. If and how centrefold location information actually gets used will vary on setup (I'm not sure of all the technical details here - please do edit or comment with any important details).

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Don't forget to export the PDF as Spreads, not Pages (assuming again, of course, that there's a good reason to do all this your end!).

  • Awesome answer. Wish I could upvote 2x. Jul 23, 2014 at 15:35
  • You cannot use 'real' page numbering though. (Admittedly, for a small brochure it'll still work -- but it does not scale up nicely for larger documents.)
    – Jongware
    Feb 12, 2015 at 14:18

At the design shop where I worked for ten years, we had a design department, a type department (either pouring copy into comps which were designed using dummy text or updating cyclical documents which didn't need redesigning every quarter), and a pre-press department.

When a document was approved and ready to be sent to the printer, the pre-press department would save a copy of the file which was specifically meant for that process. They would do the trapping, purchase stock photos, create trim marks (for folders and business cards and such), create separate pages for fifth plates, and repaginate into printer's spreads. In your case, they'd use Sections and Numbering to give each page its own section start (and thereby make the numbering stick). Then they'd drag the pages around in InDesign to get the printer's spreads as you described above.

Unless my print provider was doing my pre-press work for me, I would never assume they would do the printer's spreads. I would assume that was my responsibility, to ask them how they wanted the PDF set up and then give them a finished file. Obviously this is an instance of Your Mileage May Vary, since Scott has the complete opposite experience. :)

It's really not a huge trauma to rearrange pages for him. The fewer moving parts the printer has to deal with, the fewer chances for him to make a mistake.

  • A lot of my print providers over the years use Preps or Trapwize for their RIPS... so single pages only. Probably just depends on the type and volume of printing being done.
    – Scott
    Feb 1, 2012 at 16:51
  • @Lauren You had a pre-press department in-house. Imposition is always the hat of pre-press. I have only ever been asked for "printer spreads" for single-fold, four page pieces. Beyond that, any imposition done by the designer just gets in the way of pre-press, who are usually proud of their work and quite territorial about it. I imagine a designer submitting 8 or 16 page signatures (only a short step removed from "printer spreads," really) would be burned in effigy by pre-press. :-) Sep 17, 2012 at 19:37
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    @AlanGilbertson As always, Ask Your Printer. :) Sep 17, 2012 at 20:09
  • Ain't dat da trufe! Sep 18, 2012 at 6:24

Alan is correct. Print your booklet as a postscript file with bleeds and printer marks and you're golden. Maybe it's become common place for the printer to paginate, but any good designer should know these skills. 1 - to design for print, and 2 - because you should know how the print process works.


When I have to do something really basic here (which I very rarely do i.e. almost never), I will create the PDF as spreads, and then pass the resultant pdf through an open source utility called pdfbkit. As far as pre-press features it provides, I have little knowledge of the program aside form the fact that it will take a 5.5h x 8.5w pdf in reader's spreads and impose it as printer spreads which I can then duplex on my laser printer, stack, fold staple,..., PROFIT

It is command line software, no gui interface. type pdfbklt without options and you will get a help screen. (my sample: pdfbklt.exe -b ltr -l -p 2 %1 ) where %1 is a path&filename

pdfbklt is here (half-way down the page): http://www.sil.org/~hosken/utils/pdfcreate.html


I just had a request from a client to paginate the PDF so they could print the booklet on their Xerox in-house (2UP A3, 10pp = 20 page booket).

Alan's response was very helpful. I added a couple of extra steps in order to generate the PDF... I did the following:

File -> Print Booklet Select Postscript File Open .ps file in Adobe Acrobat Professional, which opened Distiller, converted to PDF. Save file

Job Done! No need for third party scripts.



An inexpensive solution for making spreads can be bought as a script for as little as 30 dollars here: http://www.impositionsoftware.com/

This software script works fine for what I'm doing.

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