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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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53 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!

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