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Print Signatures

What Are Print Signatures?

Print signatures refer to a group of pages that are printed on both sides of a sheet of paper. The page count in all print signatures is always in multiples of four with common binding and finishing processes. Generally, there are 4-page signatures, 8-page signatures, 12-page signatures, 16-page signatures, 24-page signatures, and 32-page signatures. The most commonly used are 8-page, 16-page and 32-page signatures. There are a number of factors that influence print signature layouts such as the final book size, paper size, and the binding method.

By understanding which pages appear on each signature, it is possible to add extra design features to your project. These could include varying the paper stock and inks within the job to make it stand out.

The standard size for most offset printers is A1. If you have a book or catalog that is A4, print signatures should be in multiples of 16 pages. For example, a book with 160 interior pages would make exactly 10 signatures. But, if your book interior only contains 158 pages, we would recommend adding 2 more pages to make up a signature. All these factors need to be kept in mind before starting designing the layout for your book. This will not only save your time but also printing costs. For more information, you can get in touch with our printing specialists at QinPrinting.

Print signatures

What Is a Spread in Printing?

A spread is a pair of facing pages in the final printed document. When you open a book or magazine and lay it flat you have a spread. This means an image or text can run across these two pages and still be legible. When a print job is designed in a professional page layout program it will be laid out as spreads. Depending on the binding method, the facing pages may end up on different signatures. However, when finishing is complete, the pages will end up as spreads again.

It is worth noting there are two kinds of spreads in printing. Readers’ spreads are those that appear on the final job when complete. For example, page 2 appears opposite page 3. Printers’ spreads are how pages are paired up on the signature through the imposition software. For example, in a 16-page job, page 2 may appear opposite page 17.


Printing Imposition Guide

The positioning of the pages on the signatures is known as imposing.

Imposition takes place at the pre-press stage before the job is printed. Specialist software lays out the job in signatures and works out the correct imposition for a particular job. Various factors influence the imposed layout such as page size and the binding style used.

At the imposition stage, it is possible to make allowances for any variations that may happen in the print and finishing process. Issues such as paper stock weight and the binding method used need to be taken into account.

The imposition software places pages in the correct order on the signature for the printing and binding style used.

The correct orientation of pages and spacing between and around them is crucial for a professional and accurate print job.

Additional information can be added to the signatures at this stage. This may include numbering that appears outside the page for checking, color control bars, and registration marks.


How Do I Do Print Signatures for Bookbinding?

It is possible in many of the pages makeup software programs to print jobs as signatures. The signatures can be printed directly to a file, such as a pdf, or a printing device. It is very important to have a clear understanding of how to print signatures work before commencing printing. The number of pages on each sheet and how they are laid out depends on the paper size and stitching or binding method used.

The settings are normally layout presets that can be customized and saved for future use.

Specialist professional software is also available that can create print signatures (imposition). This software can create the correct gutters, allow for bleed and add trims and any other printer marks. Creating print signatures directly from the software or using common third party options such as Adobe Acrobat is cheaper. However, these methods may not deal with bleed and other issues correctly.