Working with PDF Documents

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Revision as of 19:21, 22 October 2008 by Eszter (Talk | contribs) (Creating A5 booklets)

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Transforming PDF Documents for Printing


Downloads from Digital Tibetan

Tool to calculate the page reordering sequences

Linux: LinuxFormatPrinter (requires package Mono. Mono is already pre-installed in Ubuntu)

Windows: WindowsFormatPrinter (requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2 or Mono for Windows)

Other Software

Linux: get the packages gscan2pdf and pdfjam. Those applications are part of most Linux distributions and can be installed using the standard procedures to install software.

Windows: get PDFill (free)

Creating A5 booklets

  1. Create a PDF document with a page size that is a multiple of four. (Add empty pages if necessary: in Linux use <pdfjoin>, in Windows use PDFill to join empty pages)
  2. Use either the Windows (download WindowsFormatPrinter above) or the Linux version (download LinuxFormatPrinter) to calculate the page reordering sequence for booklet creation: Enter the number of pages (multiple of four) of the original PDF document, select 'A5 booklet' and 'Calculate'.
  3. The next step depends on the operating system you are using:


Use PDFill (free), option 'Split or reorder PDF pages'. Paste the page-number string generated above into 'reorder' and save a PDF that has reordered pages. Then use the option 'Reformat multiple pages into one page'. Select landscape A4, set a six margin input fields to zero, select 1 row two columns and switch of the two options (borders, notes fields). The resulting PDF can be printed using the double-sided short-edge binding option.


Install the pdfjam package. It contains a command-line tool pdfnup. Use a terminal to execute a command similar to (all in one line):

 pdfnup original.pdf --pages 41,1,2,41,41,3,4,41,40,5,6,39,38,7,8,37,36,9,10,35,34,
 11,12,33,32,13,14,31,30,15,16,29,28,17,18,27,26,19,20,25,24,21,22,23 --nup 2x1 
 --orient landscape --outfile booklet.pdf

(Of course replace the pages string with the page numbers you generated above with the FormatPrinter tool)

This creates a booklet.pdf from original.pdf. booklet.pdf can be printed directly. Use short-edge binding double-sided printing.

Mac users

To create booklets from any document (not only pdf, but from OOo or Word directly) you can download CocoaBooklets. This tool gives you an option to 'Make a booklet'. Look in the PDF option at the bottom of the print dialog. This is similar to what some printer drivers in Windows and Linux have. So far we didn't find a solution for a more flexible page manipulation :-(

Printing A6 booklets

  • Use the prodedure for A5 booklets with the following changes:
  • The number of pages of the original document must be a multiple of eight. Again use the FormatPrint tool above to calculate the page sequence of A6 booklets (4 A6 pages on an A4 page.
  • In Linux when using pdfnup replace --nup 2x1 by --nup 2x2 and --orient landscape by --orient portrait
  • In Windows select 'Portrait' and 2 rows and 2 columns when using PDFill's 'Reformat multiple pages into one page'.

Printing Pechas

Converting pecha image files into PDFs

  • If you have only scanned images of your pechas (e.g. TIFFs or JPGs), you first need to create a PDF document.
  • In Linux use the package gscan2pdf to create a single PDF document from multiple pecha image files.
  • In Windows you can use PDFill, however PDFill is not always working if you want to create PDFs with hundreds of pages. The recommended tool is the Linux gscan2pdf.

Printing the Pecha PDFs

  • You should now have a PDF document that contains a single pecha side per page. The document must have a page count that is a multiple of six. (Append empty pecha pages if necessary).
  • Now follow the procedure described for A5 booklets with the following changes
  • Calculate the page reorder string using the pecha option
  • In Linux when using pdfnup replace --nup 2x1 by --nup 1x3
  • In Windows select 3 rows and 1 columns when using PDFill's 'Reformat multiple pages into one page'.

Printing small and very small Pecha PDFs

  • use the 2x6 (12 pecha pages on an A4) or 1x6 (6 pecha pages on an A4) option when calculating the page-reorder string. The document needs to have a page count that is a multiple of 12 (1x6 option) or 24 (2x6) option.
  • In Linux when using pdfnup replace --nup 2x1 by --nup 1x6 and --orient landscape by --orient portrait for 6 pecha pages per A4, or --nup 2x6 for 12 pecha pages per A4.
  • In Windows select 'Portrait' and 6 rows and 1 or 2 columns when using PDFill's 'Reformat multiple pages into one page'.