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What Does Collate Mean When Printing? (Detailed Definition)

When printing, there are options that many people are still unaware of, and one of them is collating.

Whenever the print dialogue box appears, you'll see the option "collate" under the copies section. But what does collate mean when printing?  

In this article, we will explain what collate means as an option in your printer, what documents should be collated, the benefits of using this option, and how to apply it in your next printing job.  

When used in printing, the word “collate” refers to how the pages are arranged as they print.

This is extremely useful if you are printing a large document that requires it to be in consecutive order.

For example, if you are printing more than one copy of a multi-page file, such as a book, brochure, or anything that needs to be in order, you need to choose the "Collate Copies" option.  

When you collate when printing, the pages are sorted in the correct sequence allowing you to print multiple copies as a set rather than each page printed numerous times in consecutive order.  

To understand the idea better, imagine printing a 50-page document 10 times to share it with your team.

This means that you have to print each page 10 times and manually assemble them to create ten copies of the 50-page.

This is a lot of work, especially if you are the only one doing this. Without the collate option, the printer will print each page 10 times.

But if you enable it, the document will be printed in the correct order ten times; no need to sort them manually.  

Below are some commonly used documents that require collating: 

Related: How To Print Multiple Photos On A Single Page 


This type of document is a list of products or services often designed in alphabetical or systematic order. Big companies often use catalogs to show their list of available items.

This means they are printed in enormous quantities, so collating them when printing cuts the job by almost half. If you collate printing catalogs, you won’t need extra time to sort them all or hire other people to do it for you.  


This document is often confused with a catalog as they both show a company’s product and services.

However, the difference is that catalogs are arranged in a systematic order while the brochures are not.

But like catalogs, they are also printed in bulk, so collating them can make the job easier. 


Why should you collate magazines when printing? Simple. This document is designed in an organized manner where each page complements the previous and next ones.

In addition, they’re often catered to a large group, and sorting them manually can be such a monumental task. Let the printer handle the sorting for you.  

Instruction Manuals 

You won’t be able to understand an instruction manual if it’s not sorted correctly. That’s why you need to collate it when printing several copies of them.

Not only will it make it easier for you to finish your printing job, but it also allows you to focus your time on other tasks that require more focus.  

Collated Printing with Samsung Printer

Benefits Of Collated Printing 

If you are printing a large number of documents that need to be sorted, you need to take advantage of collated printing.

Since the printer already sorts the pages for you while printing them, you don’t need to do it yourself manually.

Basically, it honors the original series of a document and prints it as how it’s sorted.  

The benefit is obvious; no more wasting time sorting them manually and potentially missing a page or two.

You also won't need extra help for people because the machine can do it for you. So, if you have a printing business, you can hire fewer people and earn more.

For individual users, you can now use your time for better tasks than spending it sorting through pages.  

Related: How To Improve The Quality Of Your Printing

Printer Ink Toner

When Should You Not Collate Printing? 

While collating has some benefits for many different documents, it can be bothersome for some printing jobs. So how do you know if you shouldn't collate when printing?

The first thing you need to consider is how you arrange your files.

Should it be printed in a sequence, or is it okay to have them in different places as long as it meets the necessary number of copies?

If you answered the latter, then collating is not for you.  

Let us give you some examples of some scenarios where you shouldn’t collate when printing: 

  • Printing different versions of posters 
    If there are different variations of a poster and you need to sort them by design, there is no need to collate them when printing. If you do turn on this feature, you’ll need to sort them again to group them by design.
  • Printing unrelated signs 
    If the pages in your document are totally unrelated, non-collate printing is best for you. Since they don't need the previous and next pages for context, you can just print the page multiple times for a faster print job.
  • Printing coupons 
    Like unrelated signs, coupons don't need the page before and after to make sense. That's why you should ditch the collate setting.
  • Printing forms 
    To make sorting forms quicker, you should not use collate parenting as it will require you to group them again. Just let the pages stack and divide them according to their type to make the organization easier.
  • Other 
    Printing papers that are considered individual sheets and not sets. 

Remember, if you need to print anything that's supposed to be in order, use collated printing. If the order doesn't matter, you can use the standard printing setting.  

Related: How To Print Stickers Step By Step

Computer Set with Printers

How To Collate On Your Printer

There are many different printer brands available, but the way to collate when printing is almost similar.

Even if you use different apps to print, you will still have nearly the same settings. So, the steps below apply to almost every computer with a computer.

Follow the instructions below to collate printing:  

  1. 1
    Open the file you want to collate and print. Double-check the document and make sure that the pages are correctly organized.  
  2. 2
    Choose Print from the option of the app. This will open the Print dialogue box.  
  3. 3
    On the pop-up screen, specify the number of copies you want and make sure to check the box that says "Collate Copies." 
  4. 4
    Once you have typed the number of copies and enabled the collate option, click Print, and your collated printing will start.  

Frequently Asked Collated Printing Questions 

What does collate without shift mean? 

If you have an optional finisher on your printer, this feature will be available.

Basically, collate without shift refers to the way of collated printing where the finisher tray moves forward and backward after each set, so it will be easier for you to sort the papers. 

What does collate mean when printing PDF? 

The word “collate" when used with file format PDF is the same as printing with other file types. This means to print a set in multiple copies.  

How do I turn off printer collate? 

To turn off the collate option from your printer, follow steps 1 and 2 below, and in the dialogue box, make sure the option for “Collate copies” or similar names is disabled.  


Now that you understand what collate means in printing, you can apply it to your future printing jobs.

We hope that this makes it easier to print a large number of document sets, cutting down your work time by half.

Be mindful of enabling this setting as you may use it for documents that won’t need to be sorted by page number and double your work.