Imposition. Noun. Via Merriam Webster:
1. something imposed: as a : levy, tax b : an excessive or uncalled-for requirement or burden2. the act of imposing3. deception4. the order of arrangement of imposed pages
Imposition is one of the fundamental steps in the printing process. Before you begin printing a book project, you have to decide how to lay out your pages, not just as individual pieces, but as a sequence of parts, and a whole, with multiple elements that relate to one another. Then you have to think backwards, and figure out the most efficient way, in terms of your materials and your time, to print the individual pages so that they will end up in the sequence that you want them to be in. This is called imposition.
Correct imposition can minimize your time on press by maximizing the number of pages you can print at once. In other words, instead of printing each page separately, you can print multiple pages at once, and have them end up where you want them to be. In order to do this successfully you need to group your pages on a larger sheet, and be confident about where each part needs to end up on the page. Working this way can also make the binding process easier, since some of the collating you’ll need to do is already built into the process. Making a dummy or mock up to understand how the pages relate to each other can help with understanding how this will work. Here’s some diagrams that show how imposition can work:
|Another Imposition Dummy|
Various elements can affect imposition, including
-The size of the finished book, and the size of the larger sheet of paper being printed on
-Number of pages
–Paper Grain. Which way does the larger sheet fold more easily? This will determine how you will be able to use it.
Imposition has always been part of the printing process, and feels very analog when you’re holding the dummy in your hand and facing a large sheet of blank, uncut paper. If this intimidates you, be comforted by the fact that digital software like InDesign can make the entire imposition process happen automatically in a click of a mouse. However, you’ll still have to figure out how to feed the paper into your printer.
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