How do I print a custom page size in an appropriate orientation?

This seems a simple question, but I have wasted many pages and much ink (and time…) on this.

I have a LibreOffice 4, Writer document (.odt) with a custom paper-size that is EXACTLY 1/2 of letter size [edited: I had a golden moment and originally said “legal”]. It is 5.5" wide and 8-1/2" high (though specified in decimal cm). What I’m trying to do, is print the pages, 2 to a page on standard “Letter”-size paper in the obvious orientation. That is, if you look at the resulting printed sheets of paper in landscape orientation, you should see 2 pages side-by-side on each.

This is trivial to do if the original page size is “Letter”.

If it is my custom page size (chosen so I have control over the font size, spacing, etc.), the best I have been able to do is get the pages to print “2-up”, but scaled to 1/2-size — which looks awful.

Not surprising, I want to guillotine the pages down the middle and 3-hole punch them to fit a standard 1/2-size binder.

OS: Linux Mint 14 (Nadia) — based on Ubuntu


Hardware: Apple MacBook Pro

You will need to provide your printer make and model, how it is accessed (i.e., network, USB) and the protocol you are using (i.e., JetDirect, PCLn). Printing is much more difficult to troubleshoot as it is a more complex chain of components, several of which are external to LO. Does creating a PDF and printing that work? Are you using PostScript (recommended) or PDF to print?

Epson Workforce 630. Networked (local Wireless LAN). Menu—>Administration—>Printers allows me to see it and double-clicking on the printer allowed me to see: Epson WorkForce 630 - CUPS+Gutenprint v5.2.9.

Whenever you do something fancy and would not like to waste too much paper, create a PDF first. Use some PDF printer like cups-pdf or CutePDF.

Exporting to PDF and postprocessing with some n-up software or scripts is a viable option if you need anything fancier like custom page order.

Offtopic, just to give you an idea what fancy might look like:

For prepress usage I have python scripts per target making use of podofo. E.g for hardcover books the script will create 2x2 double sided layout which will be double folded and two folded sheets placed inside each other, which makes 16 page brochures ready to be stitched together.

I cannot mark this answer up enough. Thank you for mention this.

Thanks @oweng. Let’s save the planet, test-print to PDF instead :slight_smile:

To make the last paragraph a little less offtopic, here is one of my mentioned scripts:

Works on Linux with PoDoFo and pyPdf installed. Edit to suit your needs. Usage requires some basic understanding of scripting and command line programs. If this doesn’t describe you or you don’t know what imposing or n-upping is, the please, just ignore it.

Thanks for sharing the script. I tend to use scripted collections of basic PDF tools via bash, thus commands like $ pdfnup --nup 2x2 in.pdf --outfile out.pdf (requires pdfjam package), as well as pdftk and sed for extracting, cleaning up, and writing back the PDF metadata. I completely forgot about post-processing, so was very pleased you mentioned it.

This is not necessarily the answer you will require, however I can get this file to print in 2-up on A4 landscape paper OK. I don’t have legal paper to test with. The first couple of tests though, came out as you described - reduced in scale and placed in the upper right corner of the A4 landscape sheet.

My setup, while not identical to your does go through a CUPS print server to a networked HP LaserJet 4020 TN via IPP. It is worth noting I did not have to alter any CUPS settings. I did however require these settings to obtain the desired result:

  • Page Layout tab, Pages per sheet: 2 (obviously)
  • General tab, Properties…
    • Paper tab
      • Paper Size: A4
      • Orientation: Landscape
    • Device tab
      • Fit to Page: Nearest Size and Scale
      • Scaling: Proportional (this is actually the default setting here)
      • Paper for Booklet: A4

I am actually using Printer Language Type of “Automatic : PDF” however it is not uncommon to see reports of PostScript (via the driver level) giving better results.

My printer only takes letter-size or smaller paper. Your solution looks like it might work for someone who can use letter- or legal-size paper (this is North America :frowning: ).

Have you tried an other approach? How about Legal Papersize in Writer, landscape and 2 columns in writer. No messing with printer settings.

Yes. See the first line of my post. I do, however, appreciate your taking the time to suggest something I might have missed. What I really want is to print on letter size paper. I managed to get this to work with a PDF file and Document Viewer printing a file that had a paper size of 8-1/2 x 11.

I have abandoned the attempt at using the custom paper size.

It is frustrating to have done so, but I simply cannot afford to pour any more time and effort into this without knowing I will get a solution.

I have changed the paper-size to letter-size, reworked all the styles (to change font sizes so that when scaled down, they will be approximately the size I want), reworked all the tables (to fit the page size) and now…

Print one page per sheet, scaled at 77% and I guillotine the pages to the desired size (requiring THREE cuts). The waste paper is resigned to the recycle bin.

A far from satisfactory solution, but it works.

Well, I am pleased to hear you got a working solution. The problem of legal paper is a more difficult one to get around for the reasons you indicate.

The process you wish to follow in your first note is something that I was doing all the time. However, the paper you describe is NOT half the size of Legal paper, it is half the size of Letter paper.

Here’s what I did: described the page size as 5.5 and 8.5. Created my document. When I was ready to print it, I told it to print on letter size paper in landscape and 2-up. It worked like a charm.

When I moved to Ubuntu 13.10 and therefore LibreOffice 4.1 I came across a little glitch.

Here’s the glitch I encountered with LibreOffice 4.1.

LibreOffice wanted to pick a paper size close to the one I was using. That was A5. Then when I tried to print it 2-up it was always printing on Letter paper (although the printer complained about this) in portrait mode. I fixed it by choosing the option to “Use only paper size from printer preferences”

@pcchynoweth I buggered up my post — I sometimes said “legal” when I meant “letter”. I’m not sure how that happened — I must have been in a fuzzy state of mind… a bit like when people get “left” and “right” mixed up. Sorry about that.

@JRG - On one side I am glad you found a soluition: print and cut. one the other side I think that the advice you got from @oweng was exacltly what you need. You only need to replace A4 by Legal Paper size. Therefore it would be interesting to learn if you followed @oweng’s advice. Could you please comment on that?

I got the terms “letter” and “legal” mixed up. I don’t know how or why — I must have been in a confused state of mind :frowning: My apologies to those who couldn’t figure out what I was attempting to say.

I’m afraid my accidently using the term “legal” when I meant “letter” in a few places confused people and made the problem sound different than it really was. Hopefully I’ve already apologized to all of you who were kind enough to attempt to help me.

Here’s another way of describing the problem: With my original custom paper size specified in the document, I could cut letter-size paper in half and (if it could handle it) put that in my printer and everything would be perfect.

My printer couldn’t handle that, so I wanted to print two pages on each sheet of paper… with NO SCALING.

I’ve added this comment so anyone who reads this thread knows what it was really about. I’m no longer interested in solving the original problem and don’t want anyone to expend any more effort on this.