My eyesight is starting to go, yet as a master’s student, I have to read scholarly papers (in PDF format) on a regular basis.

These scholarly papers have small print due to their two-column format, and it’s a pain to read them on the screen. I’d like to be able to print each 8-1/2″x11″ page across two pieces of paper – printing one half of each page on its own sheet of paper, followed by the other half on the next sheet of paper, zooming the print to 200%, thereby giving me a larger font which should be easier to read. Any idea how to do this? The print drivers I’ve seen are set to cram multiple pages on a single sheet – I want to do the exact opposite. In case it’ll help, I have Adobe Acrobat Full version 6, so if creating a PDF as an intermediary step is part of the process, that’s not a problem.

I had no idea how to go about this, but it’s such an interesting question. It seems like there should be a way, right?

This is one of those cases where it really pays to know smart people. I asked a few of my friends, and quickly had several potential solutions.

First, a clarification. Printing an 8-1/2″x11″ page across two sheets of paper doesn’t really result in a 200% increase in printed size. To get a true 200% increase in font size, you’d really need four sheets. Twice as wide and twice as high (17″x22″). But I’ll look at a two sheet solution as well (11″x17″).

And also, PDF viewers can certainly zoom the size arbitrarily on screen. Printing, however, turns out not to be as obvious.

Your Printer: The best option is to have a printer that “just does it” for you. One of my friends mentioned that his Brother 2070n printer includes multi-page options that offer 1 / 2×2 enlargement as it prints. I’m sure there are other printers out there that will do the same, and if this is something you’ll do or need often, it might be the simplest approach, and not terribly expensive at that.

Foxit Software: I use its great, free, small-and-fast PDF viewer, but a friend reminded me that Foxit software has several tools that actually allow you to manipulate PDFs in various ways. Depending on how the PDFs have been created, and your own needs, some of the PDF manipulation tools it offers, while not free, could certainly help.

Copy/Paste: For simple documents, since you’ll lose any formatting, another approach is to select the text in the open PDF (use the text select tool, click at the beginning of the document, and then scroll to the end and shift-click at the end), and then copy/paste it into a word processing document. Then you can set the font size to whatever you like before printing it.

Create a couple more PDFs: Since you have Adobe Acrobat to create PDFs, there’s another approach that, while a tad more cumbersome, could get you exactly what you want. Yet another friend sent along these instructions:

  • Open the file in Acrobat. Choose File, Print, Properties. Select Adobe PDF as the printer. Then in the Properties select Page Size, Add Custom Page. Create a custom page 17″ wide by 22″ long. Then, in the Print dialogue box click OK and print the file to a new Adobe PDF file.
  • Now, open that file, and choose File, Print. Select the printer you will use (I used an HP LaserJet 3500.). In the Page Handling section of the Print dialogue box, set Page Scaling to Tile Large Pages and Tile Scale to 100%. Click OK to send it to the printer. It will print what was one page on four pages.

I also tried that same approach to print top and bottom halves of each page to 2 sheets, instead of the 200% / four sheet described above:

  • Print the PDF to a new PDF with page size of 11×17 (that’s a standard size, exactly twice 8-1/2×11).
  • Open that new PDF, and print it to a new PDF, using 8-1/2×11 size again, landscape mode, and set Page Scaling to “Tile large pages.”

The resulting PDF can be printed on 8-1/2×11 paper, and will print each original page on two sheets, top half and bottom half.

Many Thanks To:


[tags]pdf,leo notenboom,adobe acrobat,enlarge pdf,foxit[/tags]