What does collate mean on a printer

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer and how to explain it

Whenever you need to print several copies of a multipage document, you should decide whether to print it collated or not. But what does ‘collate’ mean on a printer exactly?

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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To ‘collate’ means to collect, and arrange, some objects in a specified order. So, what does ‘collate’ mean in printing?

When it comes to printing terminology, collated printing refers to printing and assembling multiple pages so that they create a set with a specific sequence of sheets.

Collate printing is meant for making booklets, legal documents, catalogs, or any multi page document.

What does collate mean on a printer exactly?

For example, if you’re dealing with a file that is 10 pages long, and you want to print 5 copies of it, you have two different ways of printing those copies:

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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Collate printing

Your printer will make one copy of the multi page document by printing every single page of it only once and stacking them on top of each other. Then the printer will do the same thing 4 times more.

You’ll be left with 5 sets, each representing a full copy of your document. You can easily separate the sets without having to match the sheets on your own.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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Uncollated printing

The printer will print 5 copies of page one, then put 5 copies of page two on top of them, then print 5 copies of page three, etc. The sheets will not form the 5 complete sets of 10 pages of the document. You’ll be left with sheets of paper grouped into piles by page number.

Why is collating important? What does collate mean on a printer?

As we mentioned earlier, collate printing is used when preparing more than one copy of a booklet, long document, journal, etc. This is because collating printing respects the order in which the pages come in your document.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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Suppose you have to print a document 30 times to share the copies of it with 30 people. When you need to print that many copies, it would be nice if the printer does the sheet sorting job for you. If you don’t choose the collating option, the printer will just be putting 30 copies of each page into a separate pile.

Then you’ll have to sort the pages to get the proper order with your own hands. The collated printing does this job for you.

Read also: What is a monochrome printer: pros, cons, saving money?

When should I use non-collate printing then? What does collate mean on a printer?

The collate printing is often set by default, but the non-collate option can also be useful in some cases, foe example, when you need printing individual papers.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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If you disable the collated printing, then the pages will be stacked into groups by their numbers: all of the first page copies will go into one pile, all of the second page copies will go into another pile, and so on.

Here are some cases when you should pick the uncollated printing:

Printing business cards

If your document contains designs for a series of business cards so that each card design is put on a separate page, collated printing is not preferred. In this case, the order of the pages does not matter. Non-collate printing allows printing multiple copies of each business card design and grouping the cards by their design, which is convenient.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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Printing multiple versions of the same form

If you have several versions of one form saved in the same document, you want to use non-collate printing too. This way, you will get a separate stack of sheets for each version, which will make it easier for people to choose the form they need from a particular pile.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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Printing individual sheets

If you need to spread not complete sets, but individual sheets instead, then you want to hand out copies of separate pages one by one. This case is common in seminars, classrooms, office work, and trade shows. You probably want to use non-collate printing here.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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Printing flyers and brochures

For example, your file can contain 7 different pages that explain and promote 7 different products. You might use these brochures at a conference, convention, etc. It is better to arrange the sheets by product initially, so they will be easier to hand out.

How to switch between collated and uncollated. What does collate mean on a printer?

Every printer in the printing industry should have the collate function.

If you want to print a collated document, click ‘print document’ first. In the appearing dialogue box or print preview, you will see the collate option. It is usually labeled by a symbol with a stack of three sheets of paper. Select it and then start printing.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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There is also an offline collation option, which involves manual or automated collation of page copies.

If pages in your PDF documents have similar characteristics, you’ll be able to use automated equipment in order to collate them.

But if the documents are different, e.g., business cards or catalogs, automated collation would not work properly, and you would have to collate the sheets manually – that is with your own hands.

Now you can go and try collated printing on your own! It makes copying collated documents much easier and prevents you from manually putting the multiple sheets of paper together.

What does collate mean on a printer? Collation in printing services

If you prefer to print your documents in professional printing service, you should tell the printer whether you want your documents collated or not.

What does ‘collate’ mean on a printer
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Collation is usually the default option since it is more commonly used, so the printer will probably assume that the sheets should be collated even if you forget to mention it. If you want to get an uncollated set of copies, though, you should definitely specify it.

FAQs: What does collate mean on a printer

When should I use collate?

You should use collate when you need to print or assemble multiple copies of a multi-page document or when you need to ensure that the pages of a multi-page document are in the correct order. Collating helps to ensure that your printed materials are complete, organized, and easy to follow.

What is collated and uncollated?

Collated is mean when your printer will make one copy of the multi page document by printing every single page of it only once and stacking them on top of each other. Then the printer will do the same thing 4 times more.
Uncollated printer will print 5 copies of page one, then put 5 copies of page two on top of them, then print 5 copies of page three, etc. The sheets will not form the 5 complete sets of 10 pages of the document. You’ll be left with sheets of paper grouped into piles by page number.

What does collate do on a printer?

Collate is a feature on a printer that arranges printed copies of a multi-page document in a specific order. When you select the collate option, the printer prints each copy of the document with its pages in the correct order, and then arranges the copies in the correct sequence.

Do I want to collate or not?

Collation is usually the default option since it is more commonly used, so the printer will probably assume that the sheets should be collated even if you forget to mention it. If you want to get an uncollated set of copies, though, you should definitely specify it.

Wrap-up: What does collate mean on a printer

You might have already used collate printing when it was set by default, without actually knowing what ‘collate’ means.

But now you understand the difference between the two modes of printing and when you can use each one of them.

If you’re dealing with making lots of copies of documents, always remember to check if you’re selecting the right printing option!

You can go and print without wasting time now!


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