Date Published: 2019-02-18 // Updated: 2021-01-11

Examples of collated printing

Are you printing a multipage document?

One of the first questions that your print provider will ask is: "Do you want your printed documents to be collated or uncollated?".

The question is simple, but the implications of the "wrong" answer could be serious.  Readjusting printed documents from uncollated stacks to collated, or doing the opposite is time-consuming and very boring. 

This article explains all about collate and uncollate in the printing business.


So what does collate mean?


Collate is a verb that means to collect and combine a number of printed papers in proper order. In printing, this indicates the electronic files that contain the information that will get printed.

What Does Uncollated Printing Mean? (Collated vs Uncollated)?

Uncollated is the opposite of collated. Uncollated pages are therefore not combined nor gathered at all. In a printing job when multiple copies of the same document are required, you will receive all of the sheets separately. So all page #1 will be grouped by itself, and so on.

Collated printing.  Examples:

Different collated printing jobs can look different, so here are some examples. In every example, we assume that multiple copies of each document are necessary.

When a document requires more than one sheet of paper,  and you need multiple copies of that multipage document, if you order collated printing will get you a printed document in which page after page, and a sheet after sheet, the original sequence is maintained.

If for any particular reason you would prefer not to print a collated document, you will receive as many copies of each sheet as you have ordered in separate groups. 

PDF Digital Files: Because we start the printing process out of a digital file, we recommend that you generate a PDF. Each side should be a page in that PDF and they should be in order. If you submit single files, name the files so that we can organize them properly.

Word documents can be used, but the preview feature won't be available, and as with every Word document, there is a risk of having fonts default to other fonts, and blocks shifting their porsition.

Example of Collated Printing

This is what happens when you order collated printing: If you want to print  10 copies a document that is 100 pages long in double side, you will receive 10 groups of pages, each containing a full document

COLLATED DOCUMENT:  Start with a file and print sequenced copies

on this image there are 2 icons that represent digital files that contain the document that will get printed.
on this image there is an arrow following the process that represents printing.
this image shows two groups of sheets in a collated document: The first image shows a collated document that is printed on a single side only. The numbers of the pages is indicated as a reference. The second image shows the same scenario but double sided printing is being used. The numbers of the pages is indicated as well to provide clarity.

Collated Printing with Tabs

Documents with tabs: We can insert tabs and print on them as shown in the image below

When a printed document requires divisions within, such as chapters, sections, special 'tab sheets' are often used. Other times the way to indicate sections is by the use of a sheet that uses a different thickness (for example cover stock as opposed to text weight).

COLLATED DOCUMENTS Start with a file and print sequenced copies with tabs included in the right position;

on this image there are 2 icons that represent digital files that contain the document that will get printed.
on this image there is an arrow following the process that represents printing.
this image shows a document that consists of multiple pages and a special section separation which is represented by a yellow tab sheet

Uncollated Printing

on this image there are 2 icons that represent digital files that contain the document that will get printed.

If you order uncollated printing instead, you will receive 50 groups of sheets. Each group will  contain multiple copies of the same sheet (in this example it will be 10 copies)

We can represent it with the following graph that shows that the information to be printed comes from a digital file and shows what the finished printed job would look like. Since multiple copies of the same original are created, there will be multiple groups of collated documents as a product of the job.

PDF documents or word processor files are the most common digital file types used to produce a collated or uncollated job.

Order your collated and uncollated printing through our Color Copies order page


Ways to collate documents 

When the printing is done in digital laser or inkjet printing machines, collating the pages of a document can be done as part of the printing itself. 

Automatic collating: When the printing method is offset printing, collating is part of a post-printing process. Offset printing is a fast and less expensive method aimed at printing a large number of equal copies.  Collation in this case occurs in a second stage after printing has been completed. This is mainly done with the use of collating equipmentl

Collating by hand: Sometimes collating machines can be used, but on occasion, when documents of different sizes or shapes must be collated, a manual process might be required. 


Finishing of collated documents

After collating sheets, you typically need to bind them together. The most frequent methods are: stapling a corner, drilling holes so that the document goes into a binder and perfect binging. There are many other binding methods not discussed here though.


Collating these documents makes a ton of sense:

When the document being printed is to be read in a sequence, or develops a topic,  having your print provider collate your document is very advantageous. If instead, you did not specify that you expect a collated document, it will probably take you some time and labor to put it together as a sequence.

Asking for collated printing in these documents is almost a must:


Uncollated Printed Sheets are Useful at Trade Shows, Seminars, Sales Sheets, Fact Sheets and many others.

When the printed sheets in the document will be used as required, uncollated stacks of sheets are a better way to go. Here are some examples:

  • Trade Shows: Your digital file has product specifications that belong to 10 different products. These printed ‘sales sheets’ or ‘product sheets’ will be handed at a trade show: Because different visitors to your booth might be interested in one of the multiple products that you offer, the visitor will probably want to keep a page or sheet to reference the specific product he’s interested in later when he’s back at his office. Having stacks of sheets, one stack per product could be more convenient.

  • Handouts: At a conference, a speaker might want to distribute a sheet among assistants at a specific moment, then distribute a second document or sheet later on. The reason for this might be to keep the attention of the audience and to not have the audience go ahead of the pace of the event. Under these circumstances, uncollated documents would be useful.

  • Catalogs: A client might want a full catalog, but if the interest is in a specific product, you could hand just that page to the prospect


COST OF COLLATION: A matter of convenience. Not a price issue.

Collated Documents Are Usually the Same Cost as Uncollated Documents

Requesting collation does not normally add an additional expense, but since we organize differently to produce a collated job than an uncollated job, we need to know your preference before we start to process your order. 

Proofs:  Can you get a proof of an order to print collated documents?

Yes. As long as you have your digital files available and can email them, we can generate either a digital proof or a hard copy proof at your request.

If you upload a multipage document in a PDF format, our preview document feature will allow you to see the submitted document

Contact Color Copies USA for great service and low prices on collated and uncollated printing can provide you with all of your collated or uncollated projects. It doesn’t matter how complex your requirement is, if tabs or other special separators are needed, we will work hard to achieve your needs.


Picture showing collated documents inside their mailing envelopes


Gustavo Baner from ColorCopiesUSA

Gustavo Baner