Understanding the Meaning of Collate in Terms of Printing

Meaning of Collate in Terms of Printing
There are many occasions when we need multiple copies of the same file. Such a file may have many pages. In scenarios like this, we can use the collate option to get the prints in sequential order. But what does collate mean?
Did You Know?
The ink used in printers is one of the costliest commodities in the world. The retail cost of this ink is many folds higher, even when compared to some expensive items like crude oil and space shuttle fuel.
The invention of the printer dates way back before the invention of the computer. Block printing was invented sometime around the 11th century CE. The credit for its invention and development goes to the Chinese. Block printing is a technique that is used to print text, images, or patterns.

The printer is one of the numerous inventions and innovations that has made many a things easy for us in today's world. Be it maintenance of records for a long time, keeping them legible, for backup purposes, or simply to make multiple copies, and that too by involving least amount of human efforts.

When printing multiple copies, a printer prints the required number of copies one page after the other. But what if there is a need for the copies to be printed sequentially? Rearranging the copies manually can be tedious, and in case of a huge number of copies, a time-consuming task. This is where the collate option comes in handy.
What Does Collate Mean?
Collate literally means to collect and combine any data. In case of a printer, the data to be printed is also compared and analyzed along with being collected and compared when the collate option is selected.
What Does Collate Mean When Printing Multiple Copies?
After selecting the collate option on a printer's settings, the pages in the whole file are printed in sequence. In this case, the copies are printed one set after the other. This is particularly useful when the complete data from the original file has to be present in each copy.

For example, consider a file has 4 pages, and we need 4 copies of this file. On using the collate option, the pages of this file are printed in the order as shown below.
Collated Prints
Collated print
Prints when collate option is selected.
When the collate option is not selected, then the required number of copies of each page in the file is printed one after the other, rather than the whole sequence at once. That is, multiple copies of the first page are printed first, then the second page is printed in copies, then the third, and so on. This is helpful when multiple copies of data from the same file need to be segregated.
Uncollated Prints
Uncollated print
Prints when collate option is not selected.
Here, we consider the same file for printing. Only this time the collate option is not selected. This image shows the sequence of pages of the same file.

Some printers provide an option to get a rotated collate. This rotates the plane for the following set of prints by 90º. The set of prints that follow the first set of prints are printed in the original plane, and in a plane obtained by rotating the original plane by 90º, alternatively.
The collate option is also available on a copier. Modern digital copiers come equipped with this function, while analog copiers need an adjustable tray. Adjustable trays also help in getting a rotated collate.