What to do when readers should be single.

A “reader’s spread” shows a finished left hand and right hand page on-screen as it will appear to the reader. Preparing reader’s spreads from InDesign is simple – select the “spreads” checkbox in the first window of the PDF export dialog box.

I find that the main purpose for preparing reader’s spreads will be for proofing an A4 size book onto A3 paper which (for proofing sake) is only printed on one side; or if i’m preparing a PDF for a client who wants to view the PDF as reader’s spreads and either doesn’t know how to enable two pages to view in Acrobat; or is viewing the PDF in software other than Acrobat.

To enable viewing of PDFs as reader’s spreads in Adobe Acrobat Reader or Professional, follow the example in the screenshot below:


While it is easy to prepare, PDFs as reader’s spreads should not be submitted as finished art, given that most imposition software prepares impositions based on single pages rather than assembled reader’s spreads. For example, a 16pp newsletter will either be a 16pp PDF (as singles) or a 9pp PDF (as readers spreads) with pages 1 and 9 being single pages; and pages 2-8 being reader’s spreads. This means the person imposing the artwork has to break the spreads into single pages so that the artwork can be imposed correctly, which is all chargeable time.

Before I go any further I must say that there is no problem with setting up the artwork with facing pages and preparing the artwork as spreads, I’m simply saying don’t export the final PDF for the printer using the “spread” dialog box checked!


If you have received a PDF prepared as reader’s spreads and need to break them back into singles, I have prepared a method which works quite well in breaking them back into single pages. You will need two javascripts to do this:

The example shown here will be to transform an A4 document prepared as A3 spreads back into A4 single pages, but the principles will work with other sizes.

  1. Create a new InDesign Document measuring the trim size of the spread. This document has one page and facing pages are turned off.
  2. A new document is created. Double-click the MultiPageImporter2.5.jsx script from the Scripts Panel. Once a new dialog appears prompting for the PDF file to insert. Navigate to the PDF and click OK.
  3. A new dialog box will appear. In the Page Selection area, import the entire pdf starting on page 1; in the Positioning Options area, pages should be positioned from the centre, with 0mm page offsets. In the Sizing Options area, leave the scale at 100% scale. In the Placement Options area, crop to Media (the 3 checkboxes are up to the user) then Click OK.
  4. The script will now run and place the PDFs into each page. Once the script has run, select the addblankmaster.jsx script from the Scripts Panel and select the A master
  5. The script will now add a blank page between each page that a PDF has been placed. From here, go to the File Menu and click Document Setup. Turn facing pages on and change the page width to the trim size of the finished art.
  6. At this stage the pages will be as spreads but not appear correctly.
  7. From the pages palette, double-click page 2. Then,right click (or control click) page 2 and select Delete Page.
  8. The pages will look somewhat correct. In the pages panel, double-click the last page and select Delete Page. Then, select the placed PDF on the newly created last page and go to the align buttons on the control palette. Make sure that Align to page is selected, and select the centre horizontally button (as illustrated below).
  9. This will move the placed PDF to the correct position on the page. Go to page 1, click on the placed pdf and select the centre horizontally button once again. The pages should now look like this:

From here, the PDF can now be exported as single pages instead of “spreads” so that our 16pp file is actually 16pp rather than 9pp.


Fellow wordpresser Karl Heinz Kremer has a purely Acrobat solution to this issue. His post can be found here.


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