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What is Imposition?

Imposition is the process of arranging files to get them placed on a page for printing efficiently. Imposition is used more heavily in the commercial printing world but it also applies to printing on your home printer. Without imposition not only would print jobs become inefficient in the finishing steps, it would also make them more expensive, due to material waste.

A Simple Explanation of Imposition Using Your Home Printer

Let’s say you want to print some address return labels for mailing things from home. The industry standard size for address labels is 1” tall by 2.625” wide. If you print these on your home printer chances are you use the Avery 5160 template and have purchased the pre-cut (kiss cut) label sheets from an office supply store. Given the standard letter size of a piece of paper, 8.5” wide by 11” tall you can impose 30 of these nice little address labels on a sheet like in example below.

address labels imposed on a page

Without the correct imposition you’d have something like this:

incorrectly imposed address labels

Not exactly ideal. As you can see proper imposition saves material, time, and money.

Types of Imposition

There are several types of imposition depending upon what you’re creating. The most common two we currently offer at Filesplice.com are step and repeat and cut and stack. Step and repeat is exactly like the address label example above. A design or file is placed at the top left corner of the page, stepped to the right and repeated. This happens across the page and then down to the next row and can flow to the next page depending upon the quantity required.

Cut and stack is a bit more complicated and really only used in a commercial setting in both offset or digital printing. With the cut and stack method, (also known as deep down and right) each file is printed on top of the other down the stack. That way once a stack is trimmed out by a large guillotine cutter each stack contains the designs in correct order.

step and repeat and cut and stack imposition

Other types of imposition for printing

  • Booklet layout is another popular format to make books or booklets. It lays out files so the pages are organized for saddle stitching.
  • N-Up Layout is another simple imposition style where files are in order across the pages and down in an order 1,2,3,4 etc.
  • There are some others that are lesser known such as calendar imposition and shuffle imposition but those are fairly unique and used for very specific jobs.

Page Margins, Bleeds, and File Size Relating to Imposition

Along with the imposition style, the position of your files on the page is critical to achieving the correct finished file. This is where details like page margins, width between files, and bleed come into play.

For example let’s say you are printing 2” circle stickers. You are printing them on kiss cut sheets and you need to be able to set the margins, bleed, and file size, in order to correctly impose the files so they match up with where the die has kiss cut the sheet. In the example below, you can see how margins, bleeds and file size are critical to getting the correct imposition.

margins, bleed and file spacing

When create your own template within the FileSplice system you have control over all of these values so you can make sure the imposition templates you create are perfect for the files you’re looking to impose.