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Is there a setting or technique I can use to print a multi-page document by starting on the back of the first sheet of paper? Ie, the first sheet would be blank on one side and the other side would contain page 1, the second sheet would contain pages 2 and 3, and so on.

I'd be happy to know if this can be done in Adobe Acrobat Reader or any other PDF viewer, especially if it's a free PDF viewer.

I recognize that I could accomplish this by inserting a blank page at the front of the document. This is a bit of a hack, but I guess it's ok. Is there a free PDF editor that will allow me to insert pages? I have PDF-XChange, but the free version doesn't allow me to insert pages.

2 Answers 2

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I would use pdflatex. It's quite simple. Depending on which OS you use, you'll either need to install miktex for Windows or something like texlive for linux -- most distros have packages built. I like texlive-full for Ubuntu -- but that's because I use a lot of the sub-packages in latex and for the file below all you need is the pdfpages sub-package, which miktex will ask to retrieve and install if you didn't download the full package. If you use linux, you may need to google a bit on installing a package in tex

The goal is to get the binary pdflatex command and the sub-package pdfpages which can then compile a latex source file which you create.

Place the following code inside a file withBlankFirstPage.tex

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{pdfpages}

\begin{document}

%  The next two lines create a blank message
%  box and then force a page feed

\mbox{}
\newpage

%  This includes your document

\includepdf[pages=-]{yourDocHere.pdf}

\end{document}

And then run pdflatex withBlankFirstPage.tex and this will produce a pdf titled withBlankFirstPage.pdf with a blank first page. Of course you could use a shorter filename -- you get the idea. Latex / tex / miktex / texlive are completely free -- as in beer.

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  • Oh and, I forgot to add - no I don't know of any printer drivers which allow you to force a blank page to come out before the start of a two-sided document. However, you could also just start printing the two-sided doc from page two to the end and then hit print again and print only the first page.
    – M. Tibbits
    Feb 3, 2011 at 1:28
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I use pstopdf on the following 'blank.ps' source file:

%!PS
showpage

to generate a ~500 byte 'blank.pdf' file. I then use pdftk's 'cat output' function to join multiple PDFs, sometimes specifying 'blank.pdf' multiple times in the command-line to insert a blank page wherever I need it.

I also wrote a Perl script to use pdftk to sort and concatenate a directory of PDFs, inserting blank PDF pages where needed. As part of this, I base-64 encoded the 'blank.pdf' file and embedded the (short) resulting ASCII directly in the script as a string. The script decodes, writes to a tempfile, and uses the tempfile as the blank page while running pdftk to join it along with the other PDF files.

This way I didn't need to keep/regenerate-from-PS a separate 'blank.pdf' file when using the script to manipulate PDFs. I could then also embed a comparably short 'blank' file (e.g., "This page intentionally left blank") in the script if desired.

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