How To Print A Booklet In 19 Easy Steps | osp blog

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How To Print A Booklet In 19 Easy Steps

The focus of this recipe is on the last bit: rearranging pages so that you can easily print out nice booklets. For a quick-and-dirty solution you can use Abiword or OpenOffice for the page-lay out part but Scribus is essential when you want to be precise with typography.

The recipe is based on the How-To posted on the Scribus Wiki:

To make this recipe, you need to open a terminal, shell or work in the commandline. If you have never done this before, have a look a this tutorial:

You can of course print texts of any length, but folding and stapling more than 12 sheets of paper gets really hard so we suggest making booklets of 48 pages maximum.

The tools mentioned are all available in most software repositories, and can be installed using Ubuntu's Synaptic.

Download sample .pdf file; if you simply want to print this document, start the recipe at step 13.
The text used in this example is available here:


  • Linux operating system* [Debian / Ubuntu]
  • Browser [Firefox]
  • A text available under an open license
  • xpdf-utils (includes: pdftotext, pdftops, ps2pdf?)
  • Texteditor [Gedit]
  • Lay-out software [Scribus]
  • Font [Bitstream Charter]
  • psutils (includes: psnup, psbook)
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Stapler
  • A piece of soft cardboard (side of a box for example)

Print A Booklet In 19 Easy Steps

  1. Choose any text that is available under an open license
  2. Download the text to your harddisk in .pdf format or copy the text into a text editor
  3. If you have downloaded a .pdf file, you need to convert the .pdf to a plain text file using the commandline:
    ~$ pdftotext infile.pdf
  4. Clean up the file as much as possible (remove unneccessary white lines, check whether any other corrections need to be made) in a text editor and save the document as .txt
  5. Open Scribus and start a new document with the following options selected: Size: A5, Number of pages: 48, Page Layout: double sided and Automatic Text Frames
  6. Import the .txt file in the Automatic Text Frame and do the necessary lay-out; add page numbers etc.
  7. Remove all empty pages so that you end up with a multiple of 4 pages (either 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44 or 48 pages).
  8. Save / export the document as .pdf with fonts embedded
  9. Using the commandline, convert the pdf file to postscript:
    ~$ pdftops -paper match infile.pdf
  10. Rearrange the pages so that when printed and folded, each page ends up in the right place (when your booklet has 8 pages, page 1 should be placed opposite of page 8, page 2 opposite of 7 and 4 opposite of 5). n is the amount of pages in your booklet.
    ~$ psbook -sn
  11. Arrange two A5 pages next to each other on one A4 sheet (-2 refers to the amount of pages on the A4):
    ~$ psnup -2 -PA5
  12. Convert the document back to .pdf format (This seems a redundant step, but without it I had problems with placing, so...)
    ~$ ps2pdf outfile.pdf
  13. Also use the commandline to print first the even pages (myprinter is the name of your printer, n is the amount of copies)
    ~$ lpr -P myprinter -o page-set=even -#1 infile.pdf
  14. When the even pages are printed, you need to re-arrange the order of the pages so that the first page comes last.
  15. Put the pages upside down back in the printer
  16. Now print the odd pages
    ~$ lpr -P myprinter -o page-set=odd -#1 infile.pdf
  17. Fold the pages from A4 to A5
  18. Fold the stack back open and place it on the piece of cardboard with the cover facing you. Click open your stapler so you can staple the stack in the middle
  19. Gently remove the stack (which is now stuck to the cardboard) and fold the staples back in.


*It should work on OSX too, but I have not tested this yet