I have quite often seen written somewhere that pdf is (or isn't) paginated. Maybe this term is used for other formats, too.

I thought that this is used to pdf where page numbering in the file corresponds to the page numbers in the actual document. (To explain in layman's terms, if it as book and the frontmatter is numbered as i-xiv and the rest of the book is numbered 1-400, then when I try to go to page number 1 in the viewer, it goes to the first page of the book, not the first page of the frontmatter.)

But I have also seen this post on another SE site. The answer given seems to indicate that non-paginated pdf would mean that it is a file which consists only of single very long page.

To clarify the things:

What is the meaning of the term paginated pdf-file. If both usages mentioned above are correct, which of them is more common?

4 Answers 4


I have never heard it used to mean either of those things. In my experience, if someone says a PDF is paginated, they simply mean that there are page numbers on the PDF's pages. They may or may not correspond to some other publication, like a physical book. The point is simply that the pages have numbers on the pages themselves.


Pagination as described by Wikipedia "is the process of dividing(content) into discrete pages." This is why I would account your second usage example as correct.

But paginated may also simply reffer to the fact that the pages of a document have page numbers. See also the defnition of pagination at Merriam-Webster.

This question might also be suitable for English Language & Usage


There is a relatively obscure feature of PDF called tagging that permits reflow. It is remotely possible that the word "paginated," when used in reference to a PDF, could mean "non-reflowable," but I doubt it. I doubt it, because my sense is that the vast majority of PDFs are not reflowable, and therefore it is the default situation, needing no qualification.

Even if a PDF is reflowable, my guess is that most PDF viewers would not know how to reflow them. So again, being "paginated," if that means "non-reflowable", is not generally worth mentioning, as it is of little consequence to most people. (Note that it is of great consequence to those trying to use a PDF with an assistive technology like a screen reader, but that is not most people.)

Despite these doubts, for completeness I thought I might record the remote possibility that "paginated" means "non-reflowable."


First use is incorrect. Second use is correct.

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