to complete the title of the thread, of course i mean for printers that don't have extra hardware to do the job.
i was searching tutorials for this issue, and i bumped into a guy who wrote something like "not every printer can print front and back..."
and i thought to myself... every common A4 copier paper has two blank sides... why not print on both of them.
someone will say: "if i'm about to print every single sheet of paper front and back, i'd rather read it right from the screen..."
So, in this thread i give some tips from personal experience on how to print 2 pages per sheet and 4 pages per sheet (2 pages per side) in a semi-automatic way. That is half driver, half human touch....
For printing i use a deskjet hp 940c printer with the cups drivers & configuration tool that came with ubuntu. This shouldn't matter anyway - it is the human touch that makes the difference.
1) printing 2 pages per sheet
it may sound easy but there are traps which can lead you into wasting some blank-sheets! (recycle people!)
have your printer print only the odd pages of the document in reverse order (so that the first page is on top of the pile in the output tray).
for cups drivers the options to do this are the following:
: check the reverse option at the bottom right
page setup tab
pages per side: 1
two sided : one sided !!!
only print : odd sheets
the rest of the options are about the quality of the printing and not the order so we won't bother here.
place the already printed pile of paper into the input tray of the printer, the way that the blank sides get printed this time
have your printer print only the even pages of the document in the right order.
cups drivers options:
general tab: uncheck the reverse option
page setup tab: change only the "only print" option to even sheets
if everything worked as it should, then you will have a book-printed document nice and easy.
note1 : if you are not printing the entire document but rather a part of it, you should watch this: if the first page is an even one (watch out - for PDFs this is the number shown at the toolbar, and not the one shown on each page!) ... then at the first step you should print the even sheets, and at the second the odd ones. All the other options remain with their steps.
note2 : it is highly recommended that you experiment with prints of 4 pages in order not to waste too much paper on trials. the common error is to flip the pages around the wrong edge. So the flip you SHOULD do is ONLY the one around the long edge (for A4). (this is for book-printing - for tablet-printing feel free to experiment yourself and share in this thread - i never used this kind of printing; my guess is that you just have to flip over the short edge instead of the long one)
2) printing 4 pages per sheet
create a dummy pdf-document that has two pages (of the original document) in every page.
select the PDF printer from the main window / the reverse option should be UNchecked
page setup tab
pages per side : 2
two sided : one sided
only print : all sheets
note : the orientation and format of the pages at the original document, affects the result of merging two pages in one. the preview at the page setup tab gives you an idea, but it's not the way it is going to show - you have to see the result in order to understand what it really looks like. You can hit print preview so as to know in advance, but even if you don't the pdf file can be deleted and re-created in no time. If you don't like the result, the way to correct the orientation is through the "print setup" or "page setup" options in the file menu.
find the pdf-document under /home/user/PDF and print it using the 2 pages per sheet (book printing) trick i described above