22 January 2015

Printing A6 Inserts/Pages

Printing of any inserts or pages often causes lots of people problems, wasted paper, increased stress levels, the list goes on. But with a bit of thinking and a bit of practice it is actually quite straight forward.

Today's post is really about printing A6 inserts, but it would equally apply to A5 ones as well... remember the proportion rules...

A6 paper is 148mm by 105mm (5.827 x 4.134 inches) I think it's easier to measure accurately in mm!

How you approach printing your inserts will naturally depend on what printer you have and what paper feed arrangements it has. Not all printers can handle paper as small as A6. That said I was surprised to discover that our HP Laserjet printer can print from the paper tray not just the manual paper insert tray.

So I thought I would give it a try. The first issue I encountered and not surprising really is that the duplex feeder can not double side paper smaller than A4/Letter size, so I had to opt to print single sided and print Odd pages (Page 1,3,5 7 etc) first, reinsert the paper and then print the Even pages (2, 4, 6 etc)

OK let's step back for a second. Open the paper tray on your printer if it has one and what do you see?

So the paper is held in place by moveable 'side cheeks' and a moveable 'end stop' They normally have markers as to where to move them to.

So with the A4 paper removed I first of all wanted to print some A5 pages to show you. So I moved the side cheeks in and the end stop to the A5 location and then printed off the pages. First one side then the other. Which way the paper feeds will depend on the printer. In my case the 'head' or top of the page is at the front of the paper tray or the bottom of the picture in this case and the side to be printed is face down in the tray. So the paper does an S shape through the printer to then come out face down in the output tray.

The next step in this 'experiment' was to make some A6 paper. I buy A5 Clairefontaine paper from my local stationery store so to get from A5 to A6 I just needed to cut it in half.

You could of course cut A4 in to quarters with the same result.

I then adjusted the paper tray to A6 settings, narrower still and the end stop slides in to hold the paper in place.

Like this:

And once again I printed first the odd pages then the even pages.

And here are the A5 and A6 pages printed.

I think you are all familiar with this insert by now, it is the one I use in my A5. For this post I created a new file of just the first 2 weeks, plus the leading blank page.

Looking closer at the A6 page:

All I then did was get out my Rapseco punch, set both punch blocks to the middle setting (38mm centre spacing) and punched my newly printed A6 pages.

The critical ones amongst you will notice that the 'inside' margin could really be increased to cater for A6 pages, which would be easy to do in the Word file. Also I'm not sure my hand writing is small enough to use this particular layout in A6 format, but with a small amount of tinkering I'm sure it could be made to work. I just wanted to take an existing A4/A5 file and try it in A6 format.

So it can be done.... but that isn't the full story.... oh no...

So far we have only looked at the mechanics of the printing, getting the paper in and out of the printer etc. There's another step you need to take before you hit that print button.

You have put A5 or A6 size paper in your printer... you know that... but does your PC/Mac know what size paper is in the printer? I suspect in 99% of cases the answer is NO.... oh why not??

Because all you have done when changing the paper is adjust the paper tray to make sure the paper is held in place correctly. You haven't told the printer 'oh by the way Mr printer you now have A6 paper loaded' to which it would reply 'Oh thank you sir, I will tell Mr PC what paper you have loaded'

So in the absence of the printer knowing what size paper is loaded and in turn your PC knowing what size paper is loaded.... you have to tell the PC/Mac what size paper you are printing on.

So how do we do that....  In Word you need to go in to Page Set Up. There you will see Paper Size and Scale....

Remember I said the inserts/templates are designed for A4... well they are. So if we want to Print on to A5 then we set the paper size to A5 and then we have to set the scale to 70% and if you are printing on A6, then set the paper size to A6 and scale to 50%

Why 70% and 50%? Remember Alan's post that the size proportions are the Square Root of 2, which to save you getting a calculator it is 1.4142 So going up in sizes we would have to increase the design size by 144.42% going down in size we go the inverse of that.... 0.70710 or 70.71% so 70.7 is more accurate, but 70% will do!  And if you go down another 70% on 0.7071 you get 0.50 or 50%  OK that's enough maths for one day... But I wanted you to understand where those numbers magically came from!!

To get to the Page Setup in Word you need to go into File, Page Setup

The above is Office for Mac 2011, if you are using the Windows variety of Office you will find Page Set Up in a variety of places depending on which version you are using... but this page will help you find it.

If your printer does not have a built in paper tray like I've shown you above, it most probably has a simple tray with a single adjustable guide. As long as the printer can handle A6 paper (check the manufacturers website or the manual) then it should still work. To help you get the paper the right way up. look for the markings on the input tray.

This one the side to be printed is 'face up'

Where as this one is 'face down'

I realise this has been quite a long post and there are a lot of things to absorb, but hopefully I might have de-mystified printing of A6 size pages and hopefully helped with the printing of A5 pages on A5 paper too.

There is an older post on printing of Personal size pages too, if you are wanting to print direct on to Personal size plain paper. 

Naturally if you have any questions please add them in the comments below.  


  1. Even though I have been printing A6 for a while, I feel like I am reinventing the wheel every time. Thanks for the easy to follow, detailed post!

  2. So could you put in a sheet of A4 and tell it to print 4 to a page??

    1. Not a diary insert that would get quite complicated working out what page should go on the back of the other page! But you could certainly do ordinary templates that way if you created them as say a 4 cell table with the cells being the size of the writing space on an A6 page.

    2. One solution to this would be printing diary insert without the dates. Then only 'blank' pages would be on both sides and you can add the date by hand or with a stamp.

    3. You should type in the page orders.
      For the A5 inserts: 1,3,4,2 (then add 4 to every numbers => 5,7,8,9, etc)
      For the A6 inserts: 1,4,5,8,3,2,7,6 (then add 8 to every numbers => 9,12,13,16,11,10,15,14)
      I hope this will help you. :)

  3. I only have MS Word Starter and not the full version. I've checked the page set up and printer set up menu within word. I can easily age paper size from A4 to A6. But i can't, for the life of me, find any menu, even under advanced settings, to scale the down so it fits A6. The documents for the philofaxy Wo2p end up spread across several tiny A6 sized sheets on the screen. Would this possibly be a limitation of only having the starter version of the Word software? Please and thanks.

    1. Are you using a Mac or a Windows machine. If it's the later use the PDF version of the file and apply the scaling in that.

  4. My printer isn't able to handle A6 paper, but it can print on A5. Is there a way of printing A6 inserts two to a page directly onto A5 paper? What I've been doing is setting the paper size to A5 and printing booklet style, but the inserts end up much much smaller than A6 size (almost pocket sized). I just haven't been able to figure it out! Any help would be much appreciated!