2 Pages per Sheet

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How can I print two pages on one sheet of paper?

Users often want to print two copies of a document on a single sheet of paper. This may be to save paper or for other reasons. There are two ways to print “2 pages per sheet” in Word, and which you should use depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Because both options have the same name (“2 pages per sheet”), they are easily confused, but choosing the method suitable for your purposes is very important!

Scaling full-size documents

Suppose you have already created a Letter or A4 poster and now decide that you would like to print small fliers using the same design. Instead of starting from scratch to recreate the design at the smaller size, you can use one of two settings in Word’s Print dialog to change the size of the document. To access the Print dialog:

  • Word 2003 and earlier: On the File menu, select Print…

  • Word 2007: Click the Office Button, then Print and select Print.

  • Word 2010 and 2013: Click the File tab and select Print.

  • Any version of Word: Press Ctrl+P.

Scale to paper size

If you actually have smaller paper (A5 or 5˝″ × 8˝″), and your printer is capable of printing that size paper, you can use the setting to “Scale to paper size,” as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Note that this is not a method of printing 2-up—just of printing at a reduced size.

Figure 1. The “Scale to paper size” setting in Word 2003 (similar in Word 2007)

Figure 2. The “Scale to paper size” setting in Word 2010 (similar in Word 2013)

The paper sizes available in the “Scale to paper size” dropdown are determined by your printer driver and will represent the sizes the selected printer is capable of printing. Within these limitations, you may also be able to scale small documents up to print on larger paper.

Important Note: Because European A sizes all have the same aspect ratio, scaled output will be more satisfactory with them than with U.S. paper sizes. So printing an A4 document on A5 paper will be much more acceptable than printing a Letter document on Half Letter (Statement) paper.

Pages per sheet

A much more common scenario is that you want to reduce a large document to print twice on the same sheet.  Another setting in the Print dialog allows you to print multiple pages per sheet. At least in theory, you can print 2, 4, 6, 8, or 16 copies of a page on a single sheet, as shown above in Figure 2 and below in Figures 3 and 4.

Figure 3. “Pages per sheet” setting in Word 2003 (similar in Word 2007)

Figure 4. “Pages per sheet” setting in Word 2013 (Word 2010 shown in Figure 2)

Results can be unpredictable, with users reporting unexpected orientation for multiple pages above two, but for two pages, you can fairly confidently expect that you will get two landscape pages, one above the other, on a portrait sheet or two portrait pages side by side on a landscape sheet.

Important Note #1: As with scaling, results are more satisfactory for European A sizes than for U.S. sizes because of the difference in aspect ratio.

Important Note #2: You will not see the multiple-page output in Print Preview. You must take a leap of faith.

Important Note #3: If your document contains multiple pages, they will be paired in the output: that is, pages 1 and 2 will print on the first sheet, pages 3 and 4 on the second, and so on. If you have only a single page and want to print it twice on the same sheet, you must type 1,1 in the Pages: box in the Print dialog.

Other methods

Depending on your printer, you may be able to avoid Word’s “Pages per sheet” setting altogether. Many printer drivers offer options for printing multiple pages on a sheet. You can click Properties or Printer Properties in the Print dialog or backstage to explore these options.

Alternatively, if you have a version of Word that allows you to save a document as a PDF, you can open that PDF in Adobe Reader and explore the options for printing multiple pages per sheet in its Print dialog.

Creating half-sized documents

If you haven't already created your document, you have the option of using a much more satisfactory method of printing two pages per sheet. This setting is on the Margins tab of the Page Setup dialog. To access the Page Setup dialog:

  • Word 2003 and earlier: On the File menu, select Page Setup…

  • Word 2007 and above: On the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup group, click the “dialog launcher” (tiny arrow) in the bottom right corner. Alternatively, click Margins and select Custom Margins…

  • Any version of Word: If the horizontal ruler is displayed, double-click at the top of it.

The result is shown in Figures 5 and 6.

Figure 5. The Page Setup dialog in Word 2003 showing “2 pages per sheet” setting

Figure 6. The Page Setup dialog in Word 2010 showing “2 pages per sheet” setting (similar in Word 2007 and 2013)

The Preview in the dialog shows you the result when you select “2 pages per sheet” in the “Multiple pages” dropdown. Note that, if you want two portrait pages side by side, you must choose Landscape orientation; if you choose Portrait orientation, you will get two landscape pages, one above the other.

Before this option was introduced in Word 2000, users used newspaper-style columns, tables, or text boxes to simulate two pages on a sheet. The advantage of this new option over such workarounds is that Word actually treats the half-sized page just like any other page: you can have multiple columns on the page, a header and footer (with page number), a page border—anything you would put on a full-sized page.

Important Note #1: Because you are creating the page full-size (not scaling it down), you must use margins and font sizes appropriate for the half-sized page. (This is actually a benefit; when you scale a full-sized document, the type may be too small.)

Important Note #2: In the editing screen (Print Layout view) you will not see a sheet with two pages on it. You will see a single page or two pages depending on your Zoom setting. This makes it visually clear that you are dealing with a real half-sized page, not half a full-sized page.

Important Note #3: Although these pages handle just the same as a full-sized page, they will print 2-up: pages 1 and 2 on the first sheet, pages 3 and 4 on the second, etc. As with the “2 pages per sheet” setting in the Print dialog, if you have only a single page you want to print twice on the same sheet, you will need to type 1,1 in the Pages: box in the Print dialog.

Important Note #4: When you are printing “2 pages per sheet,” the “sheet” is your paper size. That is, if you are printing two A5 pages on an A4 sheet, you will select A4 on the Paper tab of Page Setup, not A5. By the same token, this “sheet” will be landscape even though your “pages” are portrait (or vice versa), so Landscape is the correct Orientation setting (the preview clearly shows the result).

Important Note #5: If you want to duplex the document (print on both sides of the page), you will need to set your printer to flip on the short edge (just as you would with any landscape document.

When you get the hang of using this option, you'll find lots of applications for it. For example, you can create inserts for 3″ × 4″ name badges 2-up on 4″ × 6″ cards by using the landscape-on-portrait orientation. Each insert is its own page, so you can, if you like, add a page border or graphics (this is much harder to do if you use the table-based template provided with badge products). If you need to reprint specific badges, each badge is a separate page, so you can just specify the pages to print, and they'll print 2-up on the number of cards needed. Similarly, if you want to create some sort of form or certificate on half a page, you can use “2 pages per sheet,” create the certificate once, and print it twice by printing pages 1,1.

Creating a folded booklet

Expanding on the “2 pages per sheet” option that was new in Word 2000, Word 2002 introduced the “Book fold” option. When you select this option, as shown in Figure 7, the result will appear just the same as with “2 pages per sheet” (and you should read the previous section and especially the Important Notes). You will work on half-sized pages in page-number order (1, 2, 3, etc.) just as you would in any document. But when you print the document, Word will juggle the pages so that they can be folded into a booklet. For example, if your booklet has eight pages, Word will print pages 8 and 1 on the same sheet, 2 and 7 on another (or on the back of the same sheet if you are duplexing), 6 and 3 on the next, and so on. When you put the pages together in order, you can then fold them in half and staple them in the fold.

Figure 7. Page Setup dialog in Word 2003 showing “Book fold” setting (similar in Word 2007 and above)

Important Note #1: You will never see facing pages in Print Layout view. If you want to see facing pages, you must use Print Preview. Word displays facing pages in Print Preview when either of two options is enabled in a Word document:

  • Mirror margins (in the “Multiple pages” dropdown on the Margins tab of Page Setup) or

  • Different Odd and Even for headers and footers (on the Layout tab of Page Setup and on the contextual Header & Footer Tools | Design tab in Word 2007 and above).

Because choosing “Book fold” automatically enables “Mirror margins” (note in Figure 7 that the side margins are designated as Inside and Outside), this also applies to “Book fold” documents. To access Print Preview:

  • Word 2003: On the File menu, select Print Preview… You can also add the Print Preview button to one of your toolbars.

  • Word 2007: Click the Office Button and select Print, then Print Preview. You can also add the Print Preview button to the Quick Access Toolbar.

  • Word 2010 and 2013: The preview shown on the Print tab in the “backstage” (File tab) will not show facing pages even if you display two or more pages. In order to see facing pages, you must use the classic Print Preview dialog. You can add a button for this dialog to your Quick Access Toolbar by selecting Print Preview Edit Mode from All Commands (note that you cannot find this in Commands Not in the Ribbon even though it is not in the Ribbon).

Important Note #2: The number of pages in a “Book fold” document must be divisible by 4. If not, it will not print correctly. Figure 7 shows “Sheets per booklet” set to “All.” When you choose this setting, you are responsible for making sure that the number of pages in the document is divisible by 4.

There is a limit to the number of pages that can satisfactorily be printed as a single booklet; this limit is roughly 100. (A duplexed booklet of 100 pages uses 25 sheets of paper; when it is folded and trimmed, the margins on the outside pages will be noticeably smaller than those on the inside pages.) For this reason, Word offers the option to print a document in “signatures” of 4 to 40 pages. If you print the document this way, you will need to use another binding method (rather than center stapling).

Of course, your booklet doesn't have to be 100 pages long! You can use the “Book fold” option to print a church bulletin or theater program that has just four or eight pages—one or two folded sheets.

This article copyright © 2014 by Suzanne S. Barnhill.