QUESTION: What is imposition?
ANSWER: Imposition (also known as "page imposition") is
the process of
so that the pages are arranged
properly for printing on a particular printing
press or digital printer and for binding with a particular binding
- modifying the position, orientation, and
of the individual
pages in a document, and
- grouping collections
of individual pages together on larger sheets
of paper or film
In this discussion, we focus on the imposition
tasks that are required when you are printing a
book or booklet. Note, however, that imposition is often
required when printing other types of
documents (e.g., postcards, greeting cards,
magazines, calendars, tickets).
The required arrangement of the pages is
- the dimensions of the pages in the book
- the number of pages in the book
- the size of the sheets that will be printed on the press (if a printing
press will be used) or on the printer (if a digital printer — such as a
laser printer — will be used)
- the type of binding to be used, if any.
To illustrate how imposition works, we give an
example of one of the simplest and most
common imposition tasks: creating a booklet.
What is a booklet?
A booklet is a small book that is formed
by printing four individual pages on each
sheet of paper (two pages on one side and
two pages on the other side), stacking the printed
sheets, stapling the sheets in the middle, and
then folding them.
A booklet is also known as a "saddle-stitched booklet"
or "saddle-stitched book."
For our example, we'll create a very small
booklet. It will have a front cover, a back
cover, and six pages inside. In other words,
it will have eight pages, counting the front
and back covers.
It will be made up of two
sheets of paper. Four pages will be printed
on each sheet: two pages on the front, and
two pages on the back.
When it is finished, it
will look like this:
We'll assume that this booklet will be
printed on a laser printer that
supports duplex printing. (The term
"duplex printing" refers to the process
of printing on both surfaces of a sheet
of paper — as opposed to "simplex printing,"
which refers to the process of printing on only
As you read through the example below,
don't worry about the mechanics of
how you would go about re-arranging the
pages. Just concentrate on the concepts
that are presented. After we've gone
through the example, we'll explain how
imposition is handled in real-life
STEP 1: CREATE THE INDIVIDUAL PAGES
We start by creating the eight individual
pages. To do this, we can use a word-processing
application such as Microsoft Word or a
page-layout application such as Adobe InDesign,
Adobe PageMaker, or QuarkXPress.
STEP 2: PAIR UP THE PAGES IN THE CORRECT ORDER
We must re-arrange the pages so that
there are two pages side by side on the
front of each sheet and two pages side
by side on the back of each sheet.
Notice that the pages are not in the
normal order in the illustration above. That's
because we've arranged them so that they'll
be in the correct order in the
If you're having trouble
visualizing this, take two sheets of
paper, stack them, fold them in half,
and label the left side and right side
of the front and back of each sheet
the same way that we've labeled the
sheets in our illustration above. Then look at the
front and back of each individual sheet.
You'll see why we arranged the pages as
STEP 3: STACK THE SHEETS
We stack one sheet on top of the other, making
sure that the pages are in the correct order.
STEP 4: STAPLE THE SHEETS
We staple the sheets together in the middle.
STEP 5: FOLD THE BOOKLET IN HALF
Our final task is fold the booklet in half.
Our booklet is done!
How is imposition handled in real life?
Imposition can be done by hand. That is,
you can use scissors and glue to paste
two or more individual pages onto larger
sheets of paper; then, to create a finished
document, you can make copies
of the pasted-up pages.
Or, if you are working with film instead of
paper, you can use special mechanical tools
to assemble individual pieces of film into
a large sheet of film that can be used to make a
plate for a printing press. Then, you use the
plate to print the pages on paper.
These days, most printing companies and other
businesses use imposition software
to do imposition electronically, instead
of doing it manually. Imposition software
re-arranges the information inside an electronic file
or a collection of electronic files containing a document. With imposition
software, you don't need to use glue and
When you do imposition electronically, your
document is contained in
PDF files, or
perhaps other types of files. These are the files whose
information is re-arranged electronically by
your imposition software.
In addition to laying out pages on press
sheets, most imposition software can do several
other tasks, such as:
Imposition software can be useful even if
you are not using large printing presses.
For example, many companies use imposition
software to create booklets on laser printers
(like we did in our example above).
- printing crop marks
to indicate where press sheets should be cut
- trimming pages down to size if they are too large
- re-positioning pages (moving individual pages up, down, left, or right)
- making the text and graphics on the pages larger or smaller
- adding page numbers or replacing existing page numbers.
There is some very good
imposition software available today at reasonable prices. Our company
offers four imposition solutions: PDF Snake, Quite Imposing, Quite Imposing Plus,
and Quite Hot Imposing. Click
here to learn about these
If you're not sure how to choose the best imposition software
for your situation, we can help! Just contact us via
email at info@CitationSoftware.com,
or call us at 888-260-7316. It costs nothing to
discuss your ideas and requirements with us.