I'd like to print a document according to the following specification:

  • The first duplex page is the booklet's cover, so it has the front cover and back cover on one side and the first "left" (p1) and last "right" (pN) page on the other.
  • the next page will have pages 2-5, with p4 and p1 on one side and p2 and p3 on the other one, the one after 6-9 (p9,p6/p7,p8),...

The idea is to allow people to fold the first page and use it to hold all the other pages that will be distributed over time.

If at all possible, I would like this to be done in one pass (tex to pdf).

A bonus would be a way to define a margin. between the cover pages (the back of the book) and p1/pN such that there's space to hold the other pages. There should not be any margin between the other pages.


1 Answer 1


I will tell you the way I produce books. It is a two-step process because to print a book you need to produce two files of different HV dimensions, so I do not think it can be done in single pass.

  1. I use class memoir for the text. With the ``twoside'' option, it will produce the content for odd and even pages, with the correct margins: the spine margin (usually larger for taking into account the binding) is on the left side of an odd page, and on the right side of an even page. I tried the LaTeX book class, but memoir is a more complete solution for books and has a nice comprehensive manual. (people said too large, not my view). The LateX pdf output as is, mostly works well for the press shop.

They will take care of the correct order of the pages to have the printed pages as you describe them, to bind them properly. Remember that you must have all the pages numbered, except for the blank ones, and not two consecutive blank pages.

  1. For the cover design, I sometimes use a graphics-oriented tool (even powerpoint once). It depends on the complexity of the graphics. Of course it can be done in LaTeX. Many people produce a thesis cover that way. There are many fine examples in this forum.

The best tool I found to do it in LaTeX is the xcoffin package. You will put everything in boxes and then you can assemble them as you like to design the full cover. The package is easy to learn and the manual is very good (and short). With this unique package I got rid of many others and their incompatibilities that arise after an update or just before production time.

But like I said, the point is that to print a book you need two different files. The pdf generated by LaTeX, usually B/W with some shades of gray, and second file with the whole cover in full color. This second file will have a single graphic with the back cover on the left, the spine in the center, and the cover on the right.

As you already mentioned, the width of the spine will depend on the number of folios, the quality of the paper used and the binding method. Typically, the print shop will give you the specifications in terms of color space and bleed space they need around their art to safely center and cut the cover without touching your creation. I usually start with the Kindle Direct Publishing specs. They are well explained and secure, in the sense that they fit most printers I dealt with.


Note: If your intention is to do the printing yourself, with two passes in a laser print for example, then you can make an odd page file and an even page file or in the order you described. You can use acrobat or some other software to do that. Some laser printers offer two-sided printing. The people will then be able to assemble the booklet themselves.

  • Thank you for your answer! Too bad it doesn't work in one go ;-( I have created my own workflow, which currently has four steps: (1) create cover using bookcover (2) create main content, drawing chapters from different sections (3) make booklet and add crop marks (4) combine cover and content into one printable document
    – Chris
    Oct 15, 2020 at 21:07
  • @Chris Having a brochure with a small number of pages, I will surely use the same workflow. The cover will probably have color, depending on your budget, and heavier paper too. TeX is a serial processor, so it generates the output page by page. When it was conceived, computers did not have enough memory to hold an entire document in memory. Today it is conceivable that you can output and reorder the pages, taking into account the size of your folios (B4 to get two B5 pages) and the number of booklet pages to prepare a final file for printing, in two passes, front and back. Oct 15, 2020 at 23:07
  • @Chris Maybe in the future. Now you can easily use free tools to rearrange PDF pages to your like. If you are satisfied with the answer pleaset close the question or accept the answer to do it. Oct 15, 2020 at 23:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .