Tiny church administration: making booklets

OK gang: I’m going to show you how to do something useful. Making booklets.

It takes essentially the same effort to make a four page order of service (folded over from a piece of letter paper/A4) as a 36 page booklet, and the uses shouldn’t be hard to imagine. Including a meditation guide or church directory. A tidier annual report, say. Or a printed liturgy.

Even in daily life I see uses for booklets. And I’m rather keen on printing up longer documents as a booklet: not only does it take a quarter of the paper than printing the usual way but a booklet is easier to tote around. (I have a large pocket in my winter coat that’s perfect for them.) The D.I.Y. Planner justs begs to be printed as a booklet.

Back years ago when I was making a folded-over newsletter for my old, old church, it wasn’t easy. It took me hours of cutting and pasting and forcing columns and cussing to get all the pages in order. Today all you need is a printer, a saddle stapler (for anything longer than four pages; optional, I suppose) and one of two pieces of software.

  1. If you’re composing a document, you can use OpenOffice.org, my favorite office suite. Not only is it intellectually free, but free of charge, which will mean more to most people. Download it, well, at openoffice.org.
  2. If you have a PDF file already, you can use Adobe Reader 8, which isn’t intellectually free, but free of charge all the same.

I use both.

  1. Write your document. That’s the hard part.
  2. Change the page setting. Format > Page > Page tab. Make Format “User.” Change height and width to 8.5 and 5.5 inches. Set to landscape orientation. Close window.
  3. Format the document to your heart’s content. More about that later.
  4. For Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer > Print. Select “Brochure” under Pages. Close window.
  5. If you have a duplex printer, print — er– duplex and voila! you have a booklet.
  6. If you don’t have a duplex printer, go back to the same Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer > Print and deselect “Left”. Close. Then print. Flip paper over in printer. (You may want to test this.) Go back and deselect “Left” and — you got it — select “Right.” Close and print. You have your booklet.
  7. Now restore the “Left” and “Right” setting and deselect “Brochure” or else others will never understand why all subsequent print jobs are so strange.

Because OpenOffice.org has native PDF creation abilities, you can “print” a PDF the same way, as if you had a duplex printer, and the resulting PDF will ready to print as a booklet. A good way to share a ready-to-print booklet.

But if you have that PDF, open it in Acrobat Reader 8.

In the print window, under Page Handling > Page Scaling select “Booklet Printing.” If you have a duplex printer, proceed. If you have a one-sided copier, select “Odd Pages Only” under then flip and print “Even Pages Only.”

OK, this isn’t rocket science but it isn’t the sort of thing each person needs to rediscover each time.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Thanks for the technical tip. As a tiny church, we have a pretty good “booklet ministry” — a booklet of prayers/graces for families with kids, printed sermons to shut-ins, etc.

    One additional idea: we do an outer wrapper for our order of service, printed on card stock, that is reusable from week to week. On it is the information newcomers want: info about the denomination, info about our congregation, a map of the building on the back showing restroom location and childcare location. Then the week’s order of service and announcements get tucked inside. Long-time members know they can leave the cardstock cover behind to be reused next week; newcomers can take it with them; the office saves time on printing. And we have taken to printing our covers in color (using the church computer’s color printer), with different cool images from our church each quarter — the Tiffany mosaic behind the pulpit, one of the handmade footstools in the pews, etc.

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