Engineering flexibility into your catalog pagination

Last year I took a fresh look at swapping out covers for versioning and realized that changing how the catalog signatures (pages that get printed together) were bound together allowed clients to have greater flexibility at very little cost. Here’s how it works.

The traditional pagination for a 36-page catalog has a 4-page cover and two 16-page inside signatures. That gives you two pages in the front of the catalog and two pages in the back of the catalog to play with when you create versions. So your customers see a new cover and page two, and a new back cover and inside back cover. That gets you some newness between mailings, but not much. For a little more money you can move the 4-page signature to the center and make the cover wrap 16-pages. That gets you eight pages in the front and eight pages in the back to play with. Eight pages look like a whole new book when the customer opens it because the first three spreads are new. If you put your bestsellers in the front and back of the book you can often reverse the pagination for pretty short money.

Now of course if you use a heavier cover stock, or have very short runs for versions that may not work for you. Think about it though. More newness usually translates into more engagement and more sales. It’s worth running the numbers on.

All the best,

Sarah Fletcher

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  • LeCole Matchem

    Thank you Sarah for the well-thought out advice!! My company is in dire need of a catalogist, lol! Seriously, we need direction in the catalog part of our business…
    Best Regards,
    LeCole Matchem, Ministry Gifts

    • Sarah Fletcher

      My pleasure LeCole,
      Catalog University has LOTS of great classes by the best in the business. If you need one-on-one helps, let me know. You can reach me at
      All the best,