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How To Make, Print And Bind Your Own Books

Making your own books can be a great way to create a customised gift, or a tool to preserve online content, your own work, or anything else you want a physical copy of. It might seem a little daunting at first, but we’ll guide you through the process of laying out your pages, printing, and binding.

Decide On The Content You Want To Include

A well put-together book could be the perfect handmade gift, especially if you fill it with some of your best recipes, a child’s artwork, your own stories, or even just day planner pages. Even if you don’t want to create a book as a gift, you might find reading your backlog of 200 Instapaper paper articles a little overwhelming on the screen, but easier to tackle in book form. You can make your own personalised best of the year list, create your own zine, or print PDF books.

Once you’ve decided which words you’d like to use, you want to get them in the word processor of your choice so we can convert them to a PDF.

Layout And Print Your Book Properly

Once you’ve picked out your content, you’ll need to decide on the size of the book, how you want to structure the pages, and how you want to bind it. This is important because the printing process is different depending on which style you plan on using.

Print A Folded Booklet (aka imposition): Printing folded pages can be tricky. Let’s say you have a 24-page book you want to print. In order to fold the pages, you’ll be printing pages 1-2 and 23-34 on one page, so you need to have a total number of pages divisible by four (you can stuff empty pages in the back if necessary). Thankfully, you can automate the process to make it a little easier, which we’ll go into below.

Print Full Pages: This is much easier to print, but keep in mind you’ll still want your book to be double-sided. When you’re printing, you’ll initially print all of the odd pages, then flip them over and print the even pages on the opposite side. If you have a printer that does double-sided printing, this will happen automatically.

How to Create Imposition Pages: Since you can print full pages in any word processor, the easiest way to bind full pages is to use glue-based binding or spiral. This way, the only steps you need to take when printing are to make sure you get the pages in the right order.

Imposition printing is a little bit more complicated, but the result is a smaller page with less wasted space if you’re printing a small book. You can create imposition pages easily in InDesign, but for those on a budget, we’ll take a look at one of the ways you can convert a page automatically using any word processor.

Using Your Word Processor and a PDF Convertor to Create Imposition Pages

  • If you’re printing on A4 paper, you want to shrink your pages so the font size isn’t affected later on. To do this, you need to go into the page preferences panel (Word: File > Page Setup. OpenOffice: Format > Page) and change your Page Setup to 4.25″ X 5.5″ with at least one-inch margins on all sides.
  • You need to export it to a PDF file so you can use another utility to convert the pages to an imposition format (Word: File > Save As > PDF. OpenOffice: File > Export as PDF).
  • With your PDF in tow, you can use a number of options to convert it to an imposed image. Free webapp Impose Online will do it from the comfort of your browser, or BookBinder is a free Java-based alternative. If you prefer a downloadable tool that runs natively, BookletCreator is available for Mac and Windows.
  • In any of the above utilities, you’re going to need to set your print options. Likely, you’ll want to stick with the saddle-stitch option for your first book, then two-up for the print option so it splits the pages in half. There are plenty of options to experiment with, so play around with them until you find a printing method you like.
  • Som older versions of MS Word have a “Print Booklet” option, so be sure to check under File > Print > Options to see if you can do it that way. If you’re looking for more advanced design options, Scribus is a cross-platform, free layout program available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

    DIY Binding Tricks For A Professional Looking Final Product

    They say you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest: your book is nothing without binding holding it together. If you want something simple, you can get your letter sized printout spiral bound at a copying centre for a few dollars, but if you’re looking for something with a little more flair, you might consider some of these options.

    Moleskin-Like Notebook: This clever design takes the idea of a Moleskin notebook and makes it doable yourself. It’s not easy and requires stitching, but the final product is worth the extra effort.

    Hardcover with Glue: If you’re looking for a way to make your book extra spectacular, there’s no better way than going for the always impressive hardcover. You’ll need cardboard, glue, scissors, and a knife.

    A simple method for imposition pages: If you went with the imposition method, you can just staple the pages in the middle, or you can go for this classic saddle stitch method using a piece of string.

    Screw post binding: This is great way to make your book sturdy and allow for the removal or addition of new pages. You can get most of the materials at a hardware store or art supply store, and you’ll need book cloth, binding board, screw posts, glue, wax paper, and linen tape.


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