My use case is an A3 pdf landscape sheet that I needed printed in two A4 portraits. I am using desktop ubuntu 16.04.

What I have tried What I have managed to do is use a command-line program that helps: Split/Tile A3 (landscape) pdf to A4 (portrait) or how to print a single image in the 4 corners of the paper?

Also I have found Printing a poster (over several sheets of paper) but the solution uses a GUI version of the above command line options but does not seem to work with PDF or SVG.

Another option would be the print to file option mentioned in this answer. But even though I request it to print A4 size it just prints a new PDF which is A3 size.

What I would like is to have the option in the print dialogue.

I have a feeling that if I use the right settings it should work. But for example, the following settings on Page Setup and on Page Handling: Print Page Setup Settings Print Page Handling Settings

When I click preview I see the full A3 sheet in one landscape page I still press print in the hope that it will do what I want but:

It prints only the top right corner in landscape which I do not understand the logic.

Following the comment: If the box labelled "select page size using document page size" under the Page Handling tab is un-ticked then I get half the job done: It will print only the left hand side in an A4 portrait which is what I want. But I will still be missing the right hand side.

Use cases: Printing posters A2, A1 and A0 size when you don't have access to a plotter or to check for typos, printing engineering drawings when you don't have access to A3 printer or simply ran out of A3 paper and printing large images into parts

  • 1
    Might be worth mentioning what printer driver and application you're using; I find that printing is a real pain and to print things how I want that Scribus print dialog or Digikam's print assistant give the control I need.
    – pbhj
    Oct 2, 2018 at 15:08
  • 1
    @clearkimura please elaborate
    – Andres
    Oct 12, 2018 at 16:52
  • 1
    @Andres I will try to write an answer; I would write "No, you can't do that via Print option dialog because [...]" in my answer. Then again, what kind of answer do you wish to see? (A) Other GUI solution for Linux, if any; this will take more time to do testing by myself for further clarification, or (B) just the explanation why it does not work?
    – user37165
    Oct 18, 2018 at 13:01
  • 1
    No I don't want another GUI solution, the options on the standard print GUI on ubuntu or gnome should work. So B would be an excellent start that way I can either request an improvement or file a bug.
    – Andres
    Oct 19, 2018 at 14:33
  • 1
    @Andres I wrote a long answer with text and ASCII illustrations. I have tried, but the least I could explain is about 150 lines.
    – user37165
    Oct 20, 2018 at 10:40

4 Answers 4



sudo apt install pdfposter
pdfposter --help

Example, convert poster to 3x3 letter size

pdfposter -p3x3 Let my_1_large_page.pdf my_9_small_pages.pdf
  • Thank you, I did not know this tool. Sadly I cannot mark this answer as correct because within my question I mention " What I would like is to have the option in the print dialogue. " But it is good to know another command line tool from the ones I listed in the original question.
    – Andres
    Dec 16, 2018 at 0:48
  • 1
    -p3x3 didn't work for me in the latest version of pdfposter. It said: pdfposter: error: argument -p/--poster-size: I don't understand your box specification '3x3'. The man file says to use dimensions with units. This worked instead for a 3x3 letter sized paper: -p17x22in Jun 27, 2019 at 12:44
  • 1
    this works great, except that for some reason there are no margins and my print is chopping about an eighth of an inch off the edges!
    – Michael
    Jun 30, 2019 at 9:31
  • 2
    While this did not produce usable output for me (I got some black pages), the parameter situation actually got simpler: The -p parameter is now used to specify the target poster size. So for example to print an A3 document on A5 paper, use -pa3 -ma5.
    – m00am
    Sep 24, 2019 at 14:07
  • 2
    Perfect, it works! Parameter has to be changed slightly to "-p3x3Let" (two parameters have to be connected). At least for pdfposter 0.7.post1 that is available in my Ubuntu 20.10. Feb 4, 2021 at 21:04

No, you can't do that from the standard print dialog.

The option "Pages per side" in print dialog is useful to print many-to-one and not one-to-many. The former is to print using less sheets, whilst the opposite is to print posters (known as tiled printing).

But I see such option?

GTK+ has the option named "Pages per side". In other graphical toolkit or application however, such option may be found as "Number-up" (Qt) or "N-up printing" (Scribus). Not all application has this option, however.

Despite naming is different, the purpose is same: to adjust the number of "pages" to be printed on each "sheet".

  • "pages" refers to the content that is read by an application, usually from an existing file that has been created beforehand. This is what we have.

  • "sheet" refers to the content that will be printed via a hardware printer or, that will be saved to a new file. This is what we will get.

For simplicity, understand "pages" as the input and "sheets" as the output.

But I have six tabs?

The print dialog may have extra or limited options based on what is supported by the graphical toolkit or application. For GTK+ standard print dialog, most users will have these two tabs: General, Page Setup. In fact, only the first two tabs are common. I have noted few examples as follows.

  • Firefox, when choosing "Print to file" in the print dialog, has three tabs (General, Page Setup, Options).

  • Mousepad has three tabs similarly, but the last tab has a different name (Document Settings) with different options.

  • Evince is relatively more similar to Firefox, except the third tab has another different name (Page Handling) with another different options.

When selecting other type of printer however, users may have up to six tabs (General, Page Setup, Options, Job, Image Quality, Colour) with extended options. Many GTK+ applications do, but not all applications have additional tabs with extended options.

But I get half the job done?

Notice that "half the job done" is found at left side, regardless of paper orientation (Illustration 1a). This is due to the origin (0,0) is located at the left corner, similar to a display screen.

                    Illustration 1a

+----------+----------+      +-------------+-------+
|0,0       |          |      |0,0          |       |
|          |          |      |             |       |
|          |          |      |          A4 |       |
|          |          |      |-------------+       |
|       A4 |          |      |                     |
+----------+----------+      +---------------------+
                    A3                           A3

A3 page printed to A4 sheet,
when page scaling is none or ignored

When the page is even more larger than the sheet, the result is more apparent (Illustration 1b). Consider A2:A4 (size factor of 1:4) instead of A3:A4 (size factor of 1:2). The result is similar: only left side is printed.

                    Illustration 1b

+----------+----------+      +-------------+-------+
|0,0       |          |      |0,0          |       |
|          |          |      |             |       |
|          |          |      |          A4 |       |
|          |          |      |-------------+       |
|       A4 |          |      |                     |
|----------+          |      |                     |
|                     |      |                     |
|                     |      |                     |
|                     |      |                     |
|                     |      |                     |
+---------------------+      +---------------------+
                    A2                           A2

A2 page printed to A4 sheet,
when page scaling is none or ignored

Therefore, the right half area will not appear because the option "Pages per side" is simply not intended to work as tiled printing. The left and right sides may be reversed (so far I have not seen this effect), due to the page handling or whatever combination of options being tried.

But I just want another half?

From the earlier explanation, recall that "pages" is input and "sheet" is output. With that understanding in mind, consider three use cases:

  1. One-to-one. Given a document containing only one page, the result is printed to only one sheet for sure (Illustration 2a).

               Illustration 2a
    +---------+            +-------------+
    |         |            |             |
    |         |            |             |
    |         |            |1            |
    |         |            +-------------+
    |1        |
    portrait page with     landscape page with
    1 pp/side sheet        1 pp/side sheet
  2. Many-to-one. Given a document containing total of, say, 10 pages, the result can be either printed to: 5 sheets with 2 pages per side; 3 sheets with 4 pages per side; or 2 sheets with 6 pages per side. Depending on whether pages are portrait (Illustration 2b) or landscape (Illustration 2c), the best fit for the sheet may vary for each option.

               Illustration 2b
    +------+------+          +----+----+ 
    |      |      |          |    |    |
    |      |      |          |1   |2   |
    |1     |2     |          +----+----+
    +------+------+          |    |    |
                             |3   |4   |
    portrait pages with      portrait pages with
    2 pp/side sheet          4 pp/side sheet
               Illustration 2c
    +---------+              +------+------+
    |         |              |1     |2     |
    |1        |              +------+------+
    +---------+              |3     |4     |
    |         |              +------+------+
    |2        |
    landscape pages with     landscape pages with
    2 pp/side sheet          4 pp/side sheet
  3. One-to-many. By using only the option "Pages per side" in the print dialog, this is impossible.

Use case 1 is the most basic use. Certain options allow users to adjust the fit, when the page has different paper size or orientation. Hence a single large page A3 could be printed on a single smaller sheet A4 by scaling down the content.

Use case 2 is more likely used by students who want to print a handout that consists of 30 presentation slides. Instead of 30 sheets of paper, use 6 pages per side and the result is printed to only 5 sheets of paper. That saves 25 sheets or 80% less paper!

Use case 3 is not possible because there is no such option in the standard print dialog on Linux; so that "another half" is also not possible.

Tiled printing on Linux

Being an end-user on Linux for the past ten years, I would say not even a single application on Linux has a standard print dialog that supports tiled printing. Other users may disagree.

Any application that supports tiled printing would have a different option called "Poster" (Adobe Reader X; Windows only), "Tile" or something similar. Such option is non-existent on Linux, well, almost.

To be exact, few command line and graphical applications on Linux do support tiled printing, but the standard print dialog on Linux does not.

What does all above mean

Following the long explanations above, a document containing a large single page will be printed to a single sheet regardless. And given that the large page is A3 and the sheet is A4, only half or two-third of A3 is printed, depending on the paper orientation (Illustration 1a).

TL;DR "Pages per side" is to print using less sheets and not for posters. Tiled printing is not possible from the standard print dialog on Linux, as of 2018. Should be suggested for improvement, not a bug.


This should just work: If you only have an A4 printer and you want to print 2 A4 physical pages containing one A3 canvas, it should work, so you should file a bug with the inkscape developers.

  • Sorry this does not work. What I get when I do that is a Landscape A4 with the A3 sheet now shrinked into the left hand side of the A4. I now have an A5.
    – Andres
    Oct 12, 2018 at 16:48
  • Not currently near a printer, but I don't have an A3 printer only A4 and maybe that's what I did. What does A3 do?
    – Fabby
    Oct 12, 2018 at 18:27
  • Do the following. With inkscape change document size to A3. A3 landscape is the size of two A4 portraits side by side. Draw something on it so it uses all the area. Then select print, set options the way you like and either print to PDF or print preview to see if you succeeded. For me success is two A4 pages with one holding the left hand side and the other with the right hand side.
    – Andres
    Oct 14, 2018 at 8:49
  • Ah! File a bug with the developers of inkskape. I understood you wanted two A4 pages on one A3. You want the opposite, and that should just work.
    – Fabby
    Oct 14, 2018 at 20:36
  • Not inkscape, The issue happens with evince as wel. It is The general print app. It would be nice if someone confirms it, before submitting a bug.
    – Andres
    Oct 15, 2018 at 21:20

This article solved my problem by recommending pdfposter. The steps I used to posterize my image were:

  1. Use an application (Inkscape, Gimp, etc.) to size the image to the desired size and save it to a PDF file.

  2. Use this command to print it without further scaling:

    pdfposter -s1 -mlet input.pdf output.pdf

Thanks to Hartmut Goebel ([email protected]) for a great utility application!

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