What Does Collated Mean When Printing?


As you begin to explore your print options for your business, organization, or event, it’s important to understand the terms. What is collated printing? Knowing what this means will allow you to determine whether it is something you need. Depending on what it is that you’re printing (booklets, catalogs, magazines, etc.), collation can end up saving you a lot of time and frustration.

What is Collated Printing?

Collated printing is all about arranging and assembling. There’s a specific order or sequence that needs to happen when you have multiple pages of a document printed. Through collation, you simplify the job of assembling the various copies you have made.

Collation is common with several printed materials:

  • Booklets
  • Manuals
  • Catalogs

When you have collated printing, it prints all of the pages together in order. Then, it starts over with the next print. It’s the opposite of uncollated printing, which would print all the copies of page 1 together, then all of the copies of page 2, and so on.

There are times when you need your materials collated, and times when you need them loose. However, understanding the term can ensure that you’re not left creating an assembly line for a booklet or manual when the printer could have saved you that step.

It’s important to understand that there’s both online and offline collation.

Online collation happens while it’s still printing.

Offline collation happens as a manual operation, either with equipment or by hand. Particularly if there are different types of prints being included (glossy photos, clear dividers, etc.) before being bound, offline collating may be the better and more effective option.

Offline collation is also necessary when you have a variety of components that need to be put together. This may include multi-part order forms, product catalogs, business cards that need to be placed inside folders, and more.

By working with a professional printing company, you can get the level of collating that you need – either it is online or offline. Professionals will listen to the scope of your project and make recommendations. Then, the project is priced accordingly based on the overall complexity.

The Benefits of Collation

It may be obvious what the benefits of collation are.

If you have a 20-page document, it’s much easier if all 20 pages are printed in order. Otherwise, you’re left with 20 stacks of paper. You’d have to create an assembly line to grab one of each page to manually assemble the document so that it can be properly bound and/or distributed.

Consistency is another reason to collate. When you have multiple pages, you want to make sure that they are collected together. Otherwise, there’s always the possibility that page 3 may come before page 2 and other issues.

There’s a time-saver involved with collating. When this service is offered by the printer, it means that there’s less handling involved once the printed pages are in front of you. Your printer offers you efficiency for a reason. Plus, you can protect your fingers from brutal paper cuts.

You can choose whether you want to fasten the collated pages together or not. It all depends on what you’re doing with them. Instructional handouts may be given out so that others can choose how they want to file them or bind them. Meanwhile, when you’re distributing for marketing or presentation purposes, you may want to bind them inside of a folder, with brads, or even with a plastic or metal coil.

Whenever you’re binding, you’re almost always collating. The only time you wouldn’t need to collate is when all of the pages are the same – such as if you’re creating a notepad.

When Uncollated Printing is the Better Option

Just as collating makes sense, there are times when it makes more sense to go uncollated. It all depends on what it is that you’re printing.

If you send over a 5-page document to the printer but each page is designed for a different audience, you won’t want collation. Otherwise, you’ll spend the next several hours sorting the pages back out.

Any time you have a single-page document that is intended for a particular audience, uncollated is the way to go. You can have them printed in color or black & white. Either way, you’re given the option.

Through uncollated printing, you’ll be given multiple stacks based on what you’ve printed. If you have five pages that needed to be printed, you’ll be given all of page 1, all of page 2, all of page 3, all of page 4, and all of page 5 in separate stacks. It allows you to take them and arrange them as you desire at a booth or trade show. This is also great if you have single-page documents that will be handed out inside of different classrooms or lectures.

How to Get the Professional Printing That You Need

It’s important to know what it is that you’re printing – and determine if collated or uncollated printing will work best for you. Otherwise, you may spend a significant amount of time post-printing in the assembly process.

The moment you begin printing more than a few copies, you’ll want to look outside of your office printer to get the job done. While many printers have the “collate copies” box that you can check, it starts to be too cumbersome.

Whether you’re mailing out your printed items, handing them out at a trade show, or keeping them on a table for people to pick up at their leisure, you need quality prints. Custom Printing, Inc. offers professionalism at every turn. We have decades of experience with large-scale printing jobs to ensure you get the quality prints that you depend on.

You may only have one chance to make an impression – and vibrant colors with pages printed in order make a big difference. We offer digital and wide-format printing that is capable of meeting all of your needs. Additionally, we can provide added services ranging from binding to mailing. You can think of us as your one-stop printing shop – and we’ve been working with businesses of all sizes since 1975.

By choosing a professional printer, you can learn about all of your print options. Additionally, you get a custom quote for the printed items that you need, whether you need one, hundreds, or even thousands. You can be sure that they’re collated to meet your needs, too, so that you don’t have to worry about organizing the prints once they are delivered to you.

To learn more about collated printing (and uncollated printing) and how it can benefit you, contact us to get your custom quote started.