How To Make Printer Spreads in Quark XPress

How Do You Convert Facing Pages to Printer Spreads in Quark XPress?

printer spreads screenshot

Printer Spreads in the Pages panel

Admittedly, like most everyone else in the design world these days, I use InDesign. However, since my designing days pre-date InDesign, I am quite familiar with Quark XPress. Back in the day, I knew every keyboard shortcut and could use every tool in the Quark XPress arsenal. When I took my assessment test for Aquent (around the year 2000), my score was off the charts! I credit this knowledge to my time spent at The Charlotte Observer newspaper. Since we had daily deadlines, you needed to be knowledgeable and quick. Ah, but I digress yet again…

Blowing off the virtual dust to use Quark XPress again

Even though I work mainly in InDesign now, every once in awhile a job will crop up where I need to blow the virtual dust off of Quark and use that application. This happened most recently with an avant-garde poetry book. I was called upon to set up the book layout. The designer who hired me uses Quark Xpress and wanted to be able to go in and change things as necessary. Naturally, this meant I needed to use Quark, too. Luckily, we both had the same version (8, neither of us has upgraded yet) so no need for either of us to save down. Even though I was a tad rusty, the project went smoothly and my Quark chops came back to me quicker than I thought. Sort of like riding a bike, I suppose!

A quick lesson in multi-page document layout

Facing Pages in Quark XPress

Facing Pages, the default

At the end of the project, we had to deliver final files to the printer. Although it wasn’t specified, I thought perhaps they might need it set up as printer spreads. For those of you who are wondering, just what are printer spreads, anyway? If you look at a book, magazine, brochure—any printed piece with more than 2 pages—the document is set up in printer spreads. What this means is that for the document to print correctly, the printing company has to have the last page and the first page on the document set up side by side, with the last page on the left, the first page on the right. If you’re the one setting this up, you get lucky if you only have a four page document. The next two pages are set up with page two on the left and page three on the right. That would be all there is to it. However, if you have more than four pages, then it gets a tad more complicated. Remember, on a multi-page document, the number of pages has to be divisible by four. (In other words, you can’t make a six-page document unless you get into tri-folds, another lesson for another day). The reason is really quite simple. You are printing front and back on the paper. So each leaf of paper has four pages on it, two on one side, two on the other. That’s the reason why most books have blank pages in them. The author may have only written an odd number of pages but to print the book, the printing company needs a number divisible by four. Now you know! Ah, but back to documents with more than four pages. For the sake of simplicity, let’s set up an eight page doc. Your spreads would be a zig-zag pattern like so: page 8 on the left, page one on the right; page two on the left, page seven on the right; page six on the left, page three on the right; finally page four on the left, page five on the right. Do you see the pattern? Even pages go on the left, odd pages go on the right. If that weren’t confusing enough, try figuring out a 120-page document like this book was!

OK, but how do you change from facing pages to printer spreads?

Layout Properties dialog box

WTF? It’s grayed out!

The default setting for both Quark XPress and InDesign is for facing pages. This is actually a good thing, since nowadays most printing companies do the printer spreads on their end. You just design away—hopefully you linked all the copy boxes as you should have (or threaded them, as the terminology goes in InDesign)—and then you send your masterpiece off to be printed. But what happens if you have an old school printer who needs printer spreads? Or perhaps you get a job (full time or contract) where the company prints in-house, uses Quark XPress, and the printers need printer spreads.

Section Dialog Box

Check these

If you were to look online, you’ll see useless advice like “unclick the facing pages check box in the layout panel.” Oh, yeah? Try it. I’m waiting. It was grayed out, wasn’t it? OK, here is how you really do it. Go to the Pages panel. Right or control click (for Mac users without a right clicking mouse) on page one. Navigate to the pull down that reads as such: Section… When the Section pop up menu shows, click the Section Start button. Now go down to the Number field and type in the page number (in this case, one). If you go back to the Pages panel, you’ll see page one now has an asterisk by the page number. You can move the page anywhere and it remains page one! Your auto page numbering will remain as page one, too. (You did use auto page numbering, didn’t you?) Now go through this with each of the remaining pages. Not so bad with a four page document, but the project I was working on had 120 pages! After I had “sectioned” each page, I then had to rearrange them in the zig-zag pattern: 120-1; 2-119; 118-3; 4-117; etc. After all that, when you go to make your PDF, you make sure you select the Spreads button under Page Options. And don’t forget to select Include Blank Pages, too. Fun, eh?

Now aren’t you glad most printers don’t want you to set up printer spreads?

Have you had a fun project regarding printer spreads? Or is there something in this article you’d like expanded upon? Leave your comments below. I’ll be happy to address any questions or read about any of your projects.

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About Keith Koger

Keith Koger is the owner-operator extraordinaire of Koger Creative. Although one heck of a graphic designer and copywriter, he has yet to learn that Star Trek, Star Wars and Monty Python references are the quickest ways to drive away women.

9 thoughts on “How To Make Printer Spreads in Quark XPress

  1. Very helpful explanation, that I will be using first thing Monday morning, thank you 🙂
    After setting the information up with alternative numbers for printers spread, do I need to know anything special about how to make the brochere print on A3 pages (before folding to A4 size and stapling in the middle) or is that fairly straightforward ?
    I have never used QuarkXPress before and have been asked to make a brochere (approx 12 pages) using QuarkXPress 9 and have it ready for Tuesday !!!! Any advice appreciated.

    • Hi Susan,
      When you get to the Section… dialog box, just type in what type of numbering you want in the Format field. There are quite a few choices of roman numerals and such. If you need to start on a number other than 1 (the default), indicate that in the Number field. As far as the pages go, just make them A3 pages and build them as spreads as I instructed in the post. The printer will print on A4 paper and fold. You should be good to go!

  2. Thank you – really appreciate you taking the time to explain this! Just tried it with fairly good success – did have some challenge with right-hand pages shifting a bit but I’ve figured that out quickly. Thanks again!

  3. Thank you so much for the help I’ve literally been searching weeks for this type of information. I have a question though, How do you do back and front pages in quark? You see I’m designing a newspaper and its pretty difficult to know how to get that back and front, and folded look, with each SHEET of paper having [eg. #2 on left page, #32 on right page] but i want to have #33 on the back of page #32, like an actual newspaper that has the folded in pages. Sorry if i made the question a bit complex. so simply, how do I do back and front design?

  4. Hi Keith
    I am having the problem that when I save a spread as a pdf from quark the whole image gets reduced in size. I can’t seem to get the pdf to match the original size of the document. I don’t have this problem when I save individual pdf pages as opposed to a spread, but I need my document to be a spread. Any thoughts?

  5. Scrub that, I’ve just double checked the single page pdfs and those files are displaying smaller than the measurements I have specified in Quark too 🙁 Why is the pdf not respecting the original document measurements?
    I really appreciate your help.

  6. Is there any way in Quark or InDesign to make facing pages with inside gutter? Saddle stitch is not the only binding; there are also perfect bound and bindings like spiral or ring. In some cases you want the bleed to be an extension of what is on the page, into the gutter, not picking up bleed from whatever is on the first eighth inch of the facing page.

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