I would like to print a PDF so that on the front of the first page are the first two pages, on the back the 3rd and 4th and so on.

-----------------          -----------------
|       |       |          |       |       |
|       |       |          |       |       |
|   1   |   2   |          |   3   |   4   |    . . .
|       |       |          |       |       |
|_______|_______|          |_______|_______|

 page 1 - front             page 1 - back

Because my printer using Linux fails to support manual duplex printing I'd thought, maybe I could edit the pdf in a according way.

But how?

  • I don't think that this is possible, do you only have the pdf? – Michael K Feb 15 '11 at 15:31
  • This is possible on Linux using pstops from the psutils package and/or pdftk. Which operating system are you running? – rems Feb 15 '11 at 15:31
  • @Ivo Flipse: har, i thought the exactly the same :) so, your comment gets a +1 as well. – akira Feb 15 '11 at 17:54
  • @Ivo Flipse, @rems: You can upvote more ASCII art here: superuser.com/questions/54054/… and superuser.com/questions/235074/… ... @mokasin: these links may give you an idea how to solve the task you asked for. – Kurt Pfeifle Mar 1 '11 at 22:05

10 Answers 10


In addition to what's been mentioned, PDFjam includes a command line tool, pdfnup which does this. (It makes use of the pdfpages package for PDFLaTeX underneath, which you can also use.)

If you prefer a GUI, jPDFtweak is another option.

  • 4
    Sample usage: pdfnup --nup 2x1 mypdf.pdf. This prints 2 pages side-by-side per sheet on a landscape view, to be printed flipped over the short edge. See man pdfnup for a few more details. – Gabriel Staples Nov 25 '18 at 0:18
  • I've decided to add an answer too: how to convert 1 1-pg pdf into a landscape view with 2 copies of it duplicated on the same page (great for printing flyers): superuser.com/a/1452008/425838 – Gabriel Staples Jun 23 '19 at 17:29
  • 1
    @GabrielStaples Thanks for the sample usage! On Debian I had to install texlive-extra-utils to have this command. – jlh Jul 11 '20 at 13:19
  • 1
    The utility script pdfnup has been removed from the distribution of pfdjam. It is possible to use pdfjam directly, e.g. via pdfjam --nup 2x1 in.pdf --outfile out.pdf --landscape – mutableVoid Jul 15 '20 at 16:56

Use pdfnup:

$ pdfnup file.pdf

This will create a new pdf file exactly like you asked for.

  • pdfnup shows the command line options used with pdfjam and so you can tweak from there. (ex: if you want to not have landscape. you can remove the --landscape option when calling pdfjam) – Trevor Boyd Smith Nov 4 '16 at 18:30
  • 7
    More exactly pdfnup --nup 2x1 --suffix test file.pdf will create a file-test.pdf with 2 pages in 1. – lolesque Nov 28 '16 at 18:12
  • 1
    sudo apt install texlive-extra-utils to install these utils on Ubuntu. – Sarke Aug 8 '18 at 1:39
  • I have a single page a4 I want to print in two copies of a5's per sheet. How do I accomplish this? The usage examples of 'pdfnup' above does not duplicate the first page, but instead makes the second a5-part of the first a4 sheet blank. – Nordlöw Mar 17 '19 at 21:27

This is a question old enough to think that the options we have now were absent at the time, but maybe it deserves an up-to-date solution.

Linux pdf viewers usually use the printing options/properties to set the page layout, and there you can print multiple pages per sheet/side. The idea is to use those to print to file as PDF.

Evince can do it, also qpdfview. More here.


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PDF Studio Viewer

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Other pdf viewers must have similar options.


For anyone wanting to take a 1 or 2 pg pdf and turn it into a pdf with 2 copies of that side-by-side in landscape view (great for printing flyers), do:

  1. Turn the 1 or 2 pg pdf input into an output which contains a duplicated copy of those pages (1-pg pdf --> 2-pg pdf, 2-pg pdf --> 4-pg pdf, etc):

     pdfunite in.pdf in.pdf out.pdf
  2. Combine that duplicated-copy pdf into a 2-pages-per-side-in-landscape-view pdf, for printing flyers for example:

     pdfnup out.pdf

Or (recommended) all on a single line:

pdfunite in.pdf in.pdf out.pdf && pdfnup out.pdf

Note that out.pdf is the input to pdfnup. The resulting output file from pdfnup will be called "out-nup.pdf".

Also, watch the output of the pdfnup command and you'll see the verbose form of the command it is actually running, which gives you some insight into the options you can pass into it. Apparently pdfnup uses pdfjam under the hood:

pdfjam: Effective call for this run of pdfjam:

/usr/bin/pdfjam --suffix nup --nup '2x1' --landscape -- out.pdf -


Original PDF (1 regular pg in Portrait view), "in.pdf": enter image description here

Final PDF (2 pgs side-by-side in Landscape view), "out-nup.pdf":

  • now can be cut in half down the middle to pass out as flyers enter image description here

Simple Bash Function: make_flyer

Copy and paste this bash function to the bottom of your "~/.bashrc" file in order to get access to a simple and easy-to-use command make flyer:

# Description: outputs a landscape-oriented flyer pdf ("my/pdf/input--flyer.pdf") for each 1 or more pg input pdf ("my/pdf/input.pdf")
#   - 1-pg input PDFs are converted to a 1-sided landscape, printable flyer that you cut down the center to make 
#     2 flyers
#   - 2-pg input PDFs are converted to a 2-sided landscape, printable flyer (flip on short edge when printing 
#     double-sided), and also cut down the middle to make 2 flyers
#   - **3+ pg input PDFs**: using `pdfnup` directly in this case would make more sense, since this function will
#     otherwise unneccessarily create 2 copies
#   - 3 and 4-pg input PDFs are converted to a single piece of paper, double-sided, flipped on short edge, x 2 copies. 
#     No cutting is necessary
#   - 5+ pg input PDFs simply require half as much paper to print is all since you get 2 pages per side of paper;
#     they do NOT print like booklets, but rather just as a landscape-printed, flipped-on-short-edge bundle of pages
#     (like a deck of slides). You get *2 copies* per print though, so just print half the pages. 
make_flyer() {
    num_args=$# # see: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4423306/how-do-i-find-the-number-of-arguments-passed-to-a-bash-script/4423321#4423321

    for inputpdf in "$@"
        echo "==== CONVERTING PDF $loop_cnt OF $num_args ===="
        echo "     INPUT:  \"$inputpdf\""

        # Strip off the .pdf extension from the input path, while retaining the rest of the path
        # - See: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/12152626/how-can-i-remove-the-extension-of-a-filename-in-a-shell-script/32584935#32584935
        input_path_base="$(echo "$inputpdf" | rev | cut -f 2- -d '.' | rev)"
        input_file_base="$(basename "$inputpdf" .pdf)"
        temp_pdf="${input_path_base}-.pdf" # is "input_path_base-.pdf"
        echo "     OUTPUT: \"$(pwd)/${input_file_base}--${suffix}.pdf\""

        # Convert a single 1-pg pdf into a temporary 2-pg pdf
        pdfunite "$inputpdf" "$inputpdf" "$temp_pdf"

        # Lay out the temporary 2-pg pdf into a side-by-side 1-sided flyer to print; creates "input_path_base--flyer.pdf"
        # Note that `pdfnup` places the output from this operation in the location from where you call this script
        # (ie: in your `pwd` [Present Working Directory])!--NOT the location where temp_pdf is located!
        pdfnup "$temp_pdf" --suffix $suffix

        # Delete the temporary 2-pg pdf, called "input_path_base-.pdf", thereby leaving only the original 
        # "input_path_base.pdf" and the new "input_path_base--flyer.pdf"
        rm "$temp_pdf"
alias make_flyer_help='echo -e "Ex usage: make_flyer \"path/to/inputpdf.pdf\" - Creates a landscape-side-by-side flyer version called \"inputpdf--flyer.pdf\"\n          *in your pwd* from a 1 or 2 pg input pdf called \"path/to/inputpdf.pdf\". Accepts multiple arguments. Ex:\n          make_flyer \"path/to/inputpdf1.pdf\" \"path/to/inputpdf2.pdf\""'

Example usage:

make_flyer "path/to/inputpdf1.pdf" "path/to/inputpdf2.pdf"

See Help info:



$ make_flyer_help   
Ex usage: make_flyer "path/to/inputpdf.pdf" - Creates a landscape-side-by-side flyer version called "inputpdf--flyer.pdf"  
          *in your pwd* from a 1 or 2 pg input pdf called "path/to/inputpdf.pdf". Accepts multiple arguments. Ex:  
          make_flyer "path/to/inputpdf1.pdf" "path/to/inputpdf2.pdf"


  1. https://superuser.com/a/948095/425838
  2. https://stackoverflow.com/a/11280219/4561887


  1. https://askubuntu.com/questions/214538/printing-in-booklet-format/1095789#1095789

Bash References:

  1. Bash How to pass arguments into a bash function: https://bash.cyberciti.biz/guide/Pass_arguments_into_a_function
  2. Bash Concatenate strings: https://linuxize.com/post/bash-concatenate-strings/
  3. Bash execute a cmd stored as a string! https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2005192/how-to-execute-a-bash-command-stored-as-a-string-with-quotes-and-asterisk
  4. Bash iterate over all inputs to a cmd: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/255898/how-to-iterate-over-arguments-in-a-bash-script/255913#255913
  5. Bash passing parameters to function: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6212219/passing-parameters-to-a-bash-function/6212408#6212408
  6. How to convert a 1-pg pdf into a flyer [my own ans!]: How to convert a 1 page PDF to a 2 page per sheet PDF?

There are freeware & open source command line tools available to convert pdfs to reader's spreads, booklet spreads etc.

I lost the app I was using, so no help there, but a from a quick search I see a program called pdfshuffler ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfshuffler/ ) which might be what you need. Has a gui, so not likely to be automagical, but it is a front-end for another tool...


You can do this with PyPDF2. The code below is not a perfect solution to your problem, but it will hopefully help others who come here from google.

#!/usr/bin/env python

# requires PyPdf2 library, version 1.26 or above -
# its homepage is https://pythonhosted.org/PyPDF2/index.html
# running: ./this-script-name output.pdf file-with-pdf-list

import copy, sys
from PyPDF2 import PdfFileWriter, PdfFileReader, pdf
output = PdfFileWriter()
output_page_number = 0
alignment = 6 # align on 6 pages for printing 6 up
for filename in sys.argv[2:]:

    page = pdf.PageObject.createBlankPage(None, 850, 1100)
    input = PdfFileReader(open(filename, "rb"))

    position = 0
    for i in range(0, input.getNumPages()):
        x = 0
        # Two Up
        # if position == 0:
        #    position = 1
        #    page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), 0.5, 100, 650)
        #    page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), 0.5, 100, 100)
        #    output.addPage(page)
        #    page = pdf.PageObject.createBlankPage(output)
        #    position = 0
        # 6 Up
        scale = 0.25
        col1 = 100
        col2 = 450
        sep = 130
        row3 = sep + 25
        row2 = row3 + sep + 215
        row1 = row2 + sep + 215
        if position == 0:
           position = 1
           page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), scale, col1, row1)
        elif position == 1:
           position = 2
           page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), scale, col2, row1)
        elif position == 2:
           position = 3
           page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), scale, col1, row2)
        elif position == 3:
           position = 4
           page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), scale, col2, row2)
        elif position == 4:
           position = 5
           page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), scale, col1, row3)
           page.mergeScaledTranslatedPage(input.getPage(i), scale, col2, row3)
           page = pdf.PageObject.createBlankPage(output)
           position = 0
    if position != 0:

output.write(open(sys.argv[1], "wb"))

If you have the print to file facility. print to the file with two pages per page setting and with odd pages. repeat the process with even pages. Now print the odd ones, reverse the printed papers and print the even pages file.


@mokasin: You didn't say which PDF reader you're using. If you use the Linux version of Acrobat/Adobe Reader: there is an option to print "2-up" right in the print dialog. You can also choose to only print the odd or even pages, so combining this will help you to achieve your desired output.


This software I tested on Solaris 11.2 operating system can create that scheme which is called 2-up, usually used for hand-out at classrooms or meetings. It is possible to produce other schemes; for example, hand-out with 3 or 4 or more pages on one sheet or both sides of a sheet. It can be run from a terminal as it is a JAR file or just run the GUI for ease of access. Besides Solaris other Linux distributions are also compatible, running the software, as "executable," with super-user privileges. Be aware not using "Open the Archive." It is also working on any Windows and Mac where there is already a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed, as is the case most of the time. Software is Dysprosium Imposition and is free to download and to use.


A very quick and dirty option if you have Google Chrome browser is to use the built in PDF printer/viewer and "save as PDF" feature.

  1. Open/drop the pdf inside a Chrome tab (if a save file window is displayed you have to enable the PDF internal viewer option, go to this page on your browser chrome://settings/content/pdfDocuments)

  2. Right click and select "Print"

  3. In the print panel select "save as PDF"

  4. Select the number of pages in "Pages per sheet"

NOTE: it can have few quirks if pages are not even or different aspect ratio, also as far as I can tell the page format is A4 and I can't find any obvious way to change it.

Also if you have Adobe Acrobat installed you can use the Adobe PDF printer instead, in this case more and advanced options will be available.

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