Are numbers necessary?

Claire Bibio's picture

I was wondering whether page numbers are necessary for the printers while arranging the files and after printing or they are only for the readers. thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joshua Langman's picture

Not necessary for printers. Often the printed page numbers are not the same as the "real" page numbers anyway. "Page 1" may in fact be page 15, if there is unnumbered front matter, etc.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Joshua: Indeed, but your printer will thank you for logical page numbering, somewhere where he can see it but the reader can't. (That would typically be in the Bleed zone of each page.)

Claire Bibio's picture

could you please explain a bit more Thenis de Jong?

Té Rowan's picture – This glossary will help with many of the outer-space terms used here. Otherwise, as I understand it...

Logical page numbering: PDF readers use this as the primary numbering scheme. The first page in the file is page 1, no matter how much front matter there is before the 'real' page 1.

Bleed zone: Pages are printed on slightly oversized sheets. The extra bits are then trimmed off to get the correct size, sharp and neat. You can make use of this to let images flush to the edge by letting them extend (bleed) a wee bit into these cut-offs.

Follow Theunis' advice well, and the printer's gunna think: "Ho! Claire's more pro than she looks like! Major coolness!" It shouldn't harm, either, to ask the printer for the best spot to place the page numbers.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Ah I've been putting all my faith in InDesign for this. In the Printer's Marks section of its PDF export dialog, you have this option to add page numbers. Long time since I had to do that manually.

The printer needs logical numbers so he can see at a glance if his impositioning is correct. That's much harder if he has to mentally add up leading blanks and/or a roman numbered preamble -- and impossible if he's looking at an un-numbered page.

Clare, you also mention 'files' -- plural. Your printer is also going to thank you for consecutively numbering the files, rather than naming them "first part", "stuff before first part", "the very first part" (well you get the idea). Put "01 -", "02 -" etc. in front of your own (probably very logical, in your view) file names. Use a leading zero before single digits so no matter what operating system the printer uses, the files will appear in the correct order.

JamesM's picture

Claire, if your files are prepared logically your printer should be able to sequence everything without printed page numbers. However I think page numbers may help reduce the possibility of assembly errors, and at the very least will make it easier for you to proof the job. If your pages aren't numbered, it may be harder for you to spot any pages that are out of sequence in the proof, and it may make it harder for your client to communicate changes to you.

And incidentally, even though a good printer SHOULD get everything in sequence, printers are human and even a good printer can sometimes make a mistake. A few years ago I was doing a press check at a high-quality print shop and saw a huge stack of brochures (not my job) that had been assembled in the wrong page sequence. My rep told me they were very embarassed by the error and would fix it before delivery, of course, but unfortunately it caused the job to be delivered late.

Theunis de Jong's picture

My Dutch copy of Watchmen came with the exact same page '10' in both of the last two chapters. Very frustrating, as the already complicated story suddenly jumped forwards and backwards in time! I blaim Alan Moore for this ;-) He re-started page numbering at 1 again for each new chapter -- and apparently, the logical page numbering was missing, or overlooked while proofing.

Fortunately I also have an English version which has all the pages.

JamesM's picture

> or overlooked while proofing

Yes, exactly the point I was making in my earlier post. Printers are human and can make mistakes. If the pages don't have printed page numbers (or in this case have an unusual numbering system), a page sequence error may be much harder for the client to notice in proofing. And once you approve the proof, the printer is off the hook for any unnoticed errors.

k.l.'s picture

Claire Bibio – ... or they are only for the readers.

What exactly do you mean by "only for the readers"?
A four-pages pamphlet may do without page numbers. But if your publication is supposed to have some value beyond being nice to look at, consumed once and then either shelved or trashed, you better provide readers with some markers that allow them to point at any passage such that other readers are able to find it ... A text is to speak and to be spoken about.
If the text consists of rather short and numbered sections, you might do without page numbers, of course.

Claire Bibio's picture

hi Karste and thanks for your reply. what I mean by only for the reader is that so it will be easy for the reader to navigate and keep track. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE AND THANKS!

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Commonly used in defining the order of signatures are blockshapes, printed on the fold, one block lower for each following signature. When gathering the sigs one could check instantly whether they were in the correct order.

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