PDF Printer Spreads

JavaScript for Adobe InDesign
Latest update 4/25/2021, version 2.2

The script places PDF pages into an InDesign document and arranges the pages as printer spreads. After processing, the user may save the document and/or export a new PDF. This script is based on the InDesign script PDF Place and Export, reduced to a simpler script specific to the one feature of creating printer spreads.

  • Creates an InDesign document sized to match input PDF
  • Option to include bleed
  • Resolves overlapping bleeds in the spine
  • Create printer spreads
  • Signatures nested or stack
  • User-configurable localization
PDF Printer Spreads screen
PDF Printer Spreads

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Instructions for use

The interface has two sections: Input file and Layout. Enable desired options and click the OK button to begin. An existing InDesign document is not required beforehand. The script reads the trim box of the PDF and creates a new document based on the page size discovered. If the PDF lacks a trim box, the script presents a warning and attempts to read the crop box or media box instead, if the user chooses to continue.

Once all pages of the input PDF are placed in natural order, the script then arranges the pages in the order required for a saddle-stitch booklet constructed of 4-page signatures, commonly referred to as printer spreads. This requires the page count be divisible by 4. If not, the user is prompted with an option to add blank pages to the end of the document. When processing is complete, the document is half the number of single pages that are double the width of the trim size, with two PDF pages placed side-by-side as a spread across each document page.

Section 1: Input file

File — select a PDF file to process. The path and name of the selected file appears to the right of the button.

Section 2: Layout

Include bleed — when placing PDF pages, the bleed box is read, the document bleed is set to match, and pages placed include bleed. If a PDF page lacks a bleed box, the script presents a warning and processing halts. For PDFs with bleed, and the option Include bleed is enabled, the overlapping bleeds in the spine are resolved.

Important: bleed is determined by comparing bleed box height against trim box height and calculating a value based on the difference. The script has no means to understand if a PDF page has unequal bleed margins, and so assumes the PDF to process has equal bleed margins. Use other PDF tools to prepare the input PDF for processing as needed to satisfy this assumption.

Limit bleed to — available when the option Include bleed is enabled, this option allows the user to define a maximum bleed value. If the bleed value of placed PDF pages exceeds the defined value, they are cropped to limit bleed. As well, the document bleed is set no greater than this value.

Page Order — determines how pages are arranged.

Nested (saddle stitch) — 4-page signatures are tucked inside of one another and bound at the spine, typically with a pair of staples. The last page is paired with the first (back and front cover), and pages to follow are arranged increasing low folio pages paired with decreasing high folio pages.

Stack (perfect bound) — 4-page signatures are stacked atop one another and then either perfect bound or spine trimmed to make loose sheets. Page 4 is paired with page 1, followed by pages 2 and 3, and then a new 4-page signature begins, pages 5 to 8, then 9 with 12, etc., making a sequence of individual 4-page signatures.

Rotate — after pages are arranged as printer spreads, odd spreads are rotated clockwise and even spreads are rotated counter-clockwise, orienting the spreads for production on a duplicator or other device that grips the short edge rather than long edge of the sheet.


The script provides user-configurable localization. By default the script language is US English, which does not require further download or configuration. For other languages, download the Language Pack and copy the i18n file for the desired language to the script folder alongside the script file. When launched, the script detects the i18n file and the interface displays the language. If the desired language is not present in the language pack, edit the English i18n file to translate to the desired language, and copy the edited i18n file to the script folder alongside the script file. For details of how to edit and install i18n files, read How to Localize Scripts.

PDF Printer Spreads

License details included in download

For help installing scripts, see How to Install and Use Scripts in Adobe Creative Cloud Applications.

IMPORTANT: by downloading the script you agree that the software is provided without any warranty, express or implied. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Always make backups of important data.


Version 2.2 (210425)

  1. Use script preferences measurement units.
  2. Preserve preferences inside process function.
  3. Miscellaneous.

Version 2.1 (210419)

  1. Add options page order nested/stack.
  2. Improved error handling.

Version 2.0 (210403)

  1. New place PDF engine to better handle PDFs with problem page boxes.

Version 1.0.4 (210321)

  1. Alert and confirm supply all arguments.

Version 1.0.3 (201219)

  1. Mac open pdf recognize alias in Macintosh file filter.
  2. Windows open pdf use Windows file filter.
  3. Open pdf validate extension as .pdf

Version 1.0.2 (201013)

  1. UI consistency.
  2. Miscellaneous.

Version 1.0.1 (200102)

  1. Miscellaneous.

Version 1.0 (191230)

  1. Initial release, based on PDF Place and Export version 2.3.