I want to print color A4 booklets with staple binding (two facing A4 pages on a big A3 sheet) but using an A4 printer.

That's normally technically impossible : printing on a A3 sheet requires an A3 printer but:

  • A3 laser color printer is out of reach for me (1500€+)
  • Using Lulu or other printing services is too expensive for the quantity I need

Is it possible to :

  1. Fold the A3 paper into a A4 paper, print this folded paper with a normal A4 printer

  2. Print the verso.

  3. Unfold the paper, and fold so that it's possible to print the other side of the paper, print the folded paper

  4. Print the verso

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  • I've put mayfair cardboard before in an inkjet without problem so I think you would be able to do this but I would somehow secure the fold so it doesn't move. My main concern is that you will have crumpling where the fold is as the paper is fed through the printer.
    – curious
    Mar 4, 2016 at 21:15
  • @Emilie how would you secure the fold?
    – Basj
    Mar 5, 2016 at 21:22
  • I would probably try to find the thinnest mounting squares I can. It's a type of adhesive that doesn't tear paper when removed but still holds fairly tight.
    – curious
    Mar 5, 2016 at 22:27
  • Are you possibly able to access a photocopy machine that could fit an A3? If you just need black and white, that might be more simple altogether.
    – curious
    Mar 5, 2016 at 22:31
  • I second @Emilie's comment. For a small number of copies in a one-off requirement, print at the highest possible resolution 2-up on A4 and then enlarge to A3. Oct 15, 2016 at 14:37

3 Answers 3


You can, but you shouldn't.

You will have to pre-fold every sheet, which costs a lot of work (and thus cost wages) and you will not get every page folded properly. Plus, chances are you'll have to redo a fair amount of sheets because you put in 1 of those 4 'pages' the wrong way. Plus the risk of tearing, crumpling, paper jams, etcetera.

It's a lot of work for a less-than-stellar result.

If your company needs to do a lot of this kind of printing, the printer will pay itself in less time spent on menial labor. (measurable benefit) On top of that, it'll save a lot of frustration. (immeasurable benefit)

As usual, being on a low budget means making compromises. In your case you'll have to chose between looks, waterproof, and low overhead.

If you want looks and waterproof, go to an external printer and pay more per page, or invest in an expensive printer yourself; Expensive but best. If you want looks and affordability, you'll have to agree on less waterproof prints. Cheap, but goodlooking. If your line of business demands durability; go for practical and affordable.

Alternative: outsource, but not entirely.

If your company doesn't need to do a lot of this kind of printing, just go to a copy shop. They'll have a couple of $XXXX machines there that'll work fine for your purpose. It'll cost more per page than having your own machine, but at small runs it shouldn't be too big an overhead. Having the shop do the printing but doing the binding yourself should still be a bit cheaper than Lulu.

Note; Lulu isn't a generic 'printer', but aimed at publishing books. If you just need brochures printed, look up a local offset/digital printer. 5 copies; copyshop, 50 copies, digital print, 500 copies; offset.

If you do end up going there fairly often, you can ask for a discount or reconsider investing in a printer)

Alternative: go with inkjet anyway.

I don't know what the use case it, but there are inkjet paper types that are somewhat water resistant. Many photo papers for example. If it's just the occasional drop of rain, this could suffice. If you're making diving maps (are those a thing?) then of course you need something more heavy duty.

But if you can live with water-resistant instead of water-proof, you can pick up a decent A3 inkjet printer for a few hundred dollars. I've personally been looking at purchasing a Brother due to their low ink prices - but you should do your own research. ;)

Alternative: use a different binding method.

Something like Comb Binding or Coil binding will work just fine when you have an A4 printer. It might not be the look you're hoping for, but it's easier to homebrew than saddle stitching and I think it's a bit more durable too.

If you want something more stylish, you can try Japanese binding. There's a bunch of interesting patterns if you want to get creative. You could also go for screw&post binding, which can be either with spine or without spine.


If your printer is not hungry and do not devour your paper...

Probably do that on an ink jet printer, not a lasser one, becouse they normally pass the paper for more rollers.

Some ink jet printers have a small swich to put thicker paper. Try that.

In any case do not expect a good registration.

  • Inkjet is not an option because of the desired printing result (inkjet printed paper is not resistant if there is a drop of water on it ; laserjet is resistant)
    – Basj
    Mar 5, 2016 at 21:21
  • 2
    I would not put anything exotic in a laser printer.
    – curious
    Mar 5, 2016 at 22:29

This isn't practical from a time, cost or equipment point of view. We all face this hurdle. My cycle from student to pro freelance was: - use a college print facility in return for work (I worked part time in a college and got my print for free up to A1) - get close to a copyshop, do some work for them, get trade rates - work for a printer, get free print (I did an evening shift Mon to Friday, graphic design through the day - 2nd income helped too). - invest in an decent A3 inkjet with postscript - quality will be fine (for proofing) - invest in that A3 Laser through a loan IF YOU HAVE REGULAR PAYING WORK FOR IT - I went Oki, not cheap, but it is still working 10 years on. Paid for itself and made me a good deal of money.

From a time point of view I would not do more than minimum runs from my studio. Any reasonable run I have digital, Indigo, litho contractors at trade rates that I mark up and the cost still works my clients. If this isn't cheap enough for your client, let them go. Don't forget that collation, finishing, boxing and delivery are all a cost to your business - get someone else do this, (like a teenager for cash if you cannot outsource).

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