How to make an A6 size folded booklet from a single sheet of A4 paper using Linux

Updated: 13 November 2013

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How to make an A6 size folded booklet from a single sheet of A4 paper using Linux

There have been times when I have wanted to make booklets of a few pages, and it is generally a fiddly job. You can see my efforts to make an A5 (half A4 size) here.

This week I needed to make a four page A6 (quarter of A4 size) booklet, and wanted it to be a simple folded job, ie, print single sided with the four pages reduced to fit on a single sheet, 2x2, then fold it into A5, then again into A6. It wasn't so hard after all, and for you USA people who use Legal and Letter size paper, the same idea will work fine.

Here is what it looks like

Here is how to do it

  1. Create your document in your favourite word-processor (mine is Open Office / Libre Office). You will need to use a large font so that the type is readable when reduced to quarter size.
  2. Export it as a PDF file. Here is my sample, oldMumbles.pdf.
  3. Convert it a new PDF with the correct page order and the first and last pages rotated 180 degrees. The command line utility pdftk is what I used. If you don't have it, it is commonly available and open-source (ie, free). If you use Debian Linux or an off-shoot like Ubuntu or Mint, you can install by entering the following in a terminal window:-
    1. sudo apt-get install pdftk
    2. Here is the command I used to convert the sample:-
      1. pdftk oldMumbles.pdf cat 1south 4south 2 3 output oldMumblesA6booklet.pdf (note: earlier versions of pdftk use "S" rather than "south", etc.)
    3. The result is another PDF with 4 pages, page 1 upside down, then page 4 ditto, then page 2 and lastly page 3. You can see it here, oldMumblesA6booklet.pdf.
  4. Print it with 4 pages to the physical page. I used the default PDF document viewer in Ubuntu and Mint, which is "Evince". Here is the print setting dialog for 4-up printing:-

If you do not want to use Evince, and your PDF viewer does not do 4-up printing, you can use the standard psutils (Postscript utilities) to achieve the same end.

MS-Windows Users

In my hunting on the Net I saw a GUI application for Windows, also called PDFTK, and it may be able to do the same thing for you, though I have not tried it out. I rarely use Windows ;-)

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