How do you count pages in a booklet for printing?

Woman flipping through the pages of a magazine that is perfect bound.

A lot goes into the printing of a book or booklet. You have to design and lay out each booklet page and select the type of binding you want. The content needs to be written, and pictures, graphs, and other visual images (if needed) must be produced or acquired. You have to select the type of paper and whether you want full color printing or just black and white. And you have to decide how many copies you need.

There’s one more thing you need to do before sending your booklet pages to the printer, and that’s to make sure you have correctly counted the number of pages. This may seem like a minor task, but having an accurate printer page count in your book or booklet achieves two important goals. It helps your order go through more smoothly, and it enhances communication with the customer service representatives about pages in your file. It pays to take the time to ensure you have an accurate printer page count before submitting your project to the printer.

Incorrectly counting your booklet pages (i.e., counting by sheets or forgetting the covers) will cause your order to be misquoted when you check out. Your order will also be put on hold until we resolve the page count and collect additional payments.

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The simple way to count your booklet pages

You might be surprised at the many ways you can come up with an inaccurate printer page count. Some people forget to include the covers. Some count the sheets of paper rather than the actual pages. Others may not include blank pages (such as the inside of the covers) in their total. 

Fortunately, there’s a simple answer on how to count pages in a book for printing. To come up with the correct page count for your book or booklet, count every page, back and front, starting with the front cover. Here’s an example to help you visualize how printing companies count booklet pages when printing. Imagine your closed book is in front of you, so you’re looking at the front cover.

  • The front cover is counted as “page 1”
  • Next, flip open the first page of your book. The left side, which is the inside of the front cover, is counted as “page 2”. The right page is “page 3,” even if it is blank.
  • One at a time, turn each page – counting the left and right pages as separate pages – until you reach the end of the book.
  • When you’ve finished flipping through all the pages, so you’re closed the book, and you’re looking at the back cover—count the back cover as a page
When counting booklet pages, start with the front cover as page one. Inside front cover is page 2, and so one. Each surface is considered a page.

Count Pages, Not Sheets

Probably the most common mistake when doing the printer page count is counting sheets instead of pages. A sheet refers to the physical piece of paper; it has a front side and a back side. Each side equals one page, and both sides need to be counted.

There’s another reason why counting sheets doesn’t give an accurate booklet page count – you can print multiple pages on one sheet of paper. For example, if you fold a sheet of paper in half, you can print four pages on that sheet of paper. This may sound unusual if you’re not familiar with the printing process. Folding sheets in half to print four pages is a common practice in the printing industry. In fact, it’s required when using certain binding methods, such as saddle-stitch binding.

Count the cover pages – even if they’re blank

When you get books and booklets printed online, always count the cover pages – even if they’re blank. In our bulleted example, notice that we counted the front cover as two pages (front & back), and we counted the back as two pages (front & back). In many cases, both inside cover pages have no content, especially with hardbound books. Either way, every page in the book must be counted to get an accurate printer page count.

The only time when blank pages are not counted, are when single sided printing is ordered. This option is only available on spiral binding and wire-o booklets. To avoid confusion, reference the PDF page count for accuracy.

At Printivity, when you talk with one of our service representatives about your booklet pages, they will almost always talk in terms of “pages of a book.” This is how we quote the pricing for your booklet printing project.

When the customer service representative calls you to discuss a part of your design, they’ll tell you something like, “Please check out page 16”. They want you to scroll to page 16 of your PDF file, or flip to page 16 of your booklet.

If you’re still confused about your printer page count, don’t worry! It’s not the end of the world if you miscount the pages. A customer service representative will help you sort it out after you’ve placed your order.

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