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Make It Look Like a Book in the Acrobat PDF

Sandra wrote:

With book documents, chapters usually start on a right page. If I want to make a pdf, the spread option does not work for the last page from one document and the first page from the next document. I get single pages for these two. (This is not for final print, but only to show clients what their pages look like.)

Making a PDF of a book actually look like a book isn’t as straightforward as you might hope. It is tempting to turn on the Spreads checkbox (in the Export PDF dialog box) in order to show what the book will look like, but I encourage you not to. First of all, as you found out, InDesign cannot merge the two pages (last page of one chapter and the first page of the next) together into a single spread. But second, all you’re really doing is telling InDesign to pretend that the whole spread is a single page — and that the document is made up of single-sided pages. Of course, you’d also need to draw your own line in the document to show where the spine is… Blech.

Instead, give this job to Acrobat. After opening the PDF in Acrobat, you can adjust the view (View > Page Display) to show the spreads. Make sure the Show Cover Page During Two-Up is selected, too, or else page 1 will become the left-hand part of a two-page spread.

But you don’t want to have to tell your client to do this. So open File > Properties (Command/Ctrl-D) and, in the Initial View tab, set the Page Layout to “Two-Up (Cover Page).”

Then click OK and save the document. That way, when you client opens it, it will open just the way you intended. (Unless they open it in some other PDF viewer, like OS X Preview, which doesn’t read the Initial View tag properly. In that case, you’re back to telling them to choose View > Page Display > Two-Up.

David Blatner
David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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82 Comments on “Make It Look Like a Book in the Acrobat PDF

  1. Is there a way to do this if you have two pages you want in single page view, and then the rest in spreads? I have a cover and title page which should both be in single page view, but then the client wants to look at the rest in spreads (but have it print entirely in single page). Is this possible? Thanks all!

  2. This didn’t work for me? What am I doing wrong? I am able to see the PDF Doc 2 up but then when I email it…even to myself it opens as a scrolling 1 page document? I need to be able to have a title page, end page and booklet in between to be emailed for upload to a website and I am desperate to learn how to get my document side by side (booklet) with Title Page and End Page when you view it? Please help!

    • Kim, well if you open the PDF in some other program (like email or a web browser or something else that is not Acrobat), then you cannot control anything. Some PDF viewers just aren’t very good.

      • David, THANK YOU so much for taking the time to respond and Thank you for even posting this. It is very informative and I very much appreciate the information you have provided. I do my best but I am not an expert so forgive my novice questions. That being said, programs are so smart/innovative these days, that I just don’t get is why on earth (in 2015) it is so hard to email/view a document 2 up like a booklet? I don’t know how to send to someone so they can upload in that 2up format? What am I missing? Is there another program that does this? How do people do this? I can screen cap the file (it becomes a PNG which I can’t use) but then I lose resolution and all the words are garbled/blurry? MY “booklet” (comprised of JPEG’s, TEXT, etc) has to be emailed for them to upload it to their site. They specifically want PDF format and they want me, on my end, to send 2up with title page/end page so they can simply upload to their site. How do I do this? Is there ANY way that I can save this PDF booklet in a side by side with a Title Page? Would spread help me with this even though each page was created independently? Any additional information you can give or links to information etc. would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

      • Kim: Yes, you could probably export a PDF with the Spreads checkbox turned on. That would force each 2-page spread to act like a single page.

  3. David, Thank you so much! I’ve been scrambling for hours trying to fix this issue and once again Indesign Secrets has the answer. You are the best!!

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  5. Hi! I want to knw how to reformat PDF files (meaning its properties and stuff) to show both facing pages by default on any device. When I open pdf files on my Ipad Air, only 1 page is shown. Because of this sme pictures which occupy both pages are cut. Someone posted a comment sayin that it is the PDF file that shud b made that way!! Please do giv me a solution for my problem! Thanks!!

    • Angad: Unfortunately this is not available on all PDF readers. It is often a problem with the PDF reader (the software), not the PDF.

      You could export the InDesign document as “Spreads” which makes the left and right page a single wide page. (That is, page 2 and 3 will become page 2.)

      • Hi, how do I open/import a PDF magazine in Indesign? I hv a magazine in PDF format which does not show both the facing pages in ibooks. I want to export it as “spreads” as you said abve? Als I hav tried numerous pdf readers from appstore, but they all do not shw both the facing pages… I hv a lot of problems as most of these PDF’s are drawing tutorials….

      • Angad: I see… you have a PDF, but not the original InDesign file! InDesign cannot open/edit PDF files. (Well, maybe you can use a tool such as PDF2ID from But for what you want, perhaps the best thing is to create a new document in InDesign and use File > Place to import the pages of the PDF. You can turn on Show Import Options in the Place dialog box to choose which pages to import. You could place the pages next to each other, and then export the document again as a PDF.

  6. Hi, I downloaded Adobe Acrobat on my computer and was able to save my PDF as an Adobe file, however when I go to properties there is no initial view tab. Any tips?

    • Pauline, did you download the Adobe Acrobat Reader (the free Acrobat software)? If so, that’s likely the problem. I think the Initial View is a feature only available on Acrobat Pro.

  7. I’m trying to make a Book Cover. I’ve been sent a template from Ingram’s in the correct trim dimensions and it even has the barcode ready for publication. However, I can’t figure out for the life of me, how to merge my cover image (with title and text) onto the .pdf Cover template I received from Ingrams… can anyone help? And can it be done in Acrobat?

  8. This was really helpful, however, do you know why when I view it in Fullscreen mode it reverts back to one page view?

  9. @Tracy: Is your “cover image (with title and text)” an actual image, or a PDF file?

    If it’s an image, you can Place it into Acrobat, similar to Placing into InDesign. Open the PDF template from Ingram and make the cover the active page. Switch to the Edit PDF tool, right-click on the PDF page, and choose Add Image … from the contextual menu. Then you can choose the image you want, place it, position it, and scale it, all with the Edit PDF tool.

    If it’s a PDF, you should be able to use the Edit PDF tool to select all the page elements, then copy and paste into the template.

  10. @Hannah: Well, simply, Acrobat doesn’t support 2-up view in Full Screen Mode. Only one page at a time.

    If you need to show a facing pages document in full screen mode, you’ll have to fake full screen mode. Just make the PDF window fill the screen, and hide everything that isn’t the document. Hide Menu Bar is Command-Shift-M, and Hide the Toolbars is F8. (All from View > Show/Hide).

    Or, you can export from ID to Acrobat with Spreads enabled. Then Acrobat considers each spread (single cover page or facing page ones) as a single “page.” Change Acrobat’s view to Single Page and then Full Screen Mode will show what you want.

    (Or, just do the full-screen preview in InDesign, if that works for your situation. Jumping to View > Screen Mode > Presentation Mode (Shift-W) will do the trick.)

    • @Anne-Marie — I’m at the start of creating a two-up view in InDesign for an interactive PDF. After reading what you wrote, I tested it, exporting from InDesign to PDF and then displaying in Full Screen.

      I was surprised to see that I can see the 2-up view in Full Screen. Maybe I am misunderstanding your words?

      • Ahhh — now I get it. :-) Acrobat counts it as one page even though there are two pages within both normal and full screen view.

  11. Hello, unfortunately, in my Properties box I don’t have the “initial view” option, although the other options are there. I just updated my Adobe Reader to the latest version 10.1.16 and that problem still persists. Can you help me please?

    • Antonia: That’s very odd. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of Acrobat tech support here on this site. If you’re using CC 2015, note that InDesign now lets you set this Layout in the export PDF dialog box.

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