Converting a single-page pdf into magazine-style spreads … in Acrobat!

When I send magazine pages to the printer, I do so as single-page pdf files with full bleed. Once the issue has been soft-proofed and approved, I take all the single-page PDF files and put them together to form one composite cropped-to-trim PDF for archiving, as you see to the left.

Our magazine website is going through a major overhaul, including making the magazine available for online subscriptions. As a result, I was asked to provide PDF files in spreads, like a magazine would really appear to anyone picking up a physical copy to read.

Should be easy, right?

Not according to the internet! I spent hours darting into and out of online forums, trying every menu I knew in Acrobat, and could not figure it out for the life of me. I didn’t want to create a flip-page e-reader, and I didn’t want to import the PDF to InDesign and re-export as spreads. I just wanted to click a button in Acrobat, and turn my single-page PDF into something more closely resembling a magazine.

Eventually I stumbled upon a forum that gave me enough of a hint that I was sent in the right direction, and able to figure out how to make this work. And it is easy! I’m sharing it here, with a handy-dandy date at the top of the post so you know when this information was shared, unlike some of these online forums that may be cobwebbed remnants from bygone eras of the late ’90s, when PDFs were a new technology.

I’m using Acrobat Pro DC on a Mac, and here’s how to convert your single-page PDF into an online “magazine” view.

1. Open the pdf you want to convert

2. Go to File > Properties

3. In the Document Properties window, click on the “Initial View” tab

4. Go to the Page Layout drop-down and select Two-Up Continuous (Cover Page)
(this will make it so your front cover is a separate one-page right-hand view – and subsequently your back page is a separate one-page left-hand view – and your next two pages open as a spread)

5. Save As – save your document with a new name

6. Close the document

7. Open the renamed document

Voila! Your single-page PDF is now displayed in more of a magazine style, in spreads, like the designer originally intend.

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