printing journal article pdfs off Apple preview

Ken writes:

Somewhere between quite often and always, pdf files of academic articles have a paper size setting of A4 (or US letter size) , even though the journal pages of the paper hard-copy version of the article are somewhere between never and very seldom A4 (or US letter). For example, virtually all the philosophy journals in the JSTOR archive have A4/US paper size settings despite the fact that the original journals used much smaller formats. A4 is 210 by 297 mm or 8.3 by 11.7 inches, whereas the following are typical journal dimensions: Analysis 152 by 229 mm (this is approximately A5). Mind and Dublin’s own International Journal of Philosophical Studies are 157 by 235 mm. This presents a dilemma for someone such as me who wishes to download articles off the web, but print them off and read (and scribble over) paper copies of them. The .pdf versions of these articles leave large amounts of blank space around the text, precisely the difference between an A4 page and whatever the original page dimensions were. If you print off the article, one page per one page, you waste paper, but if you print two article pages per page, it minifies the text and you still get loads of wasted blank space. Annoyingly, you cannot cut the white space away because it is part of the pdf. It is of course possible to select, and crop from pdfs, but awfully time consuming to do this page by page for a whole article.

Well, today I stumbled across a solution of sorts. In preview, tell it to print, and modify the layout so you have two article pages per page, and before telling it to print, scale up the magnification to around 20%. I did this, and it seemed to work, in that it gave me two pages per page with less white space and larger type than before.

I’ll see if I can work out how to do screen shots of this…

[update: I can]


2 thoughts on “printing journal article pdfs off Apple preview

  1. kenanddot

    Playing round with the level of magnification is a good idea. I suppose the ideal level would be very close to how much larger an A4 is than the original journal page (which you need a paper copy of the journal to find out). I say very close, because I don’t know how the magnification works (does it work from the centre out or the left top corner out or what?). Anyway, I think 130% works better than 120% for Philosophical Studies and A4 (the journal I used in the screen print).

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