Sometimes we stack rectangular object like books, paper slips, bricks, video cassettes, etc in a way that one is put in a landscape orientation and the other in a portrait orientation.

What is called this way of stacking?

I want to fill in the blanks with that term:

  • You can stack more books if you put them in a/ an ___ manner.

  • Please make 25 sets of copies of pages 1-10 from this book, then collate the copies so that each set is bundled separately. I suggest to stack them in a/ an___manner.

enter image description here

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    Does this happen to have a name/word in your native language? – Em. Jul 6 '16 at 20:18
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    Similar but not same: I have used copy machines that put successive sets in the output bin SHIFTED perhaps an inch left and right, but NOT ROTATED, and they called this 'offset stacking' or just 'offset output'. – dave_thompson_085 Jul 6 '16 at 20:58
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    @Soudabeh Max is American. You'd better answere: no we don't have a name or word for it. But we use some phrases to desctibe it. – user33000 Jul 6 '16 at 21:22
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    It's not even a consistent pattern! Both the top two books are 180° out of line with the pattern established by the bottom five. Even if there was a word for the (consistent) pattern, it would be a foolish engineer who assumed OP's picture reflects that pattern. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 6 '16 at 21:41
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    It's a Jenga pattern =) – Nayuki Jul 7 '16 at 5:17

14 Answers 14


Perhaps crisscross: "to form a pattern on (something) with lines that cross each other" or crossways.

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    Crossways is the best suggestion so far, but alternately crossways might better emphasise the "one one way, one the other way" concept. – JavaLatte Jul 7 '16 at 1:55
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    I just found this: acordofwood.net/firewood/cord-wood-stacking-firewood, "...each row is perpendicular to the row beneath it." – Soudabeh Jul 7 '16 at 14:51
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    These feel more BrE than AmE to me (which I only mention for complete clarity, not to say BrE answers are not good answers). Certainly cossways is a word I think I've never heard anyone use in person. When I hear or see criss-cross I can only think of Strangers on a Train, but beyond that criss-cross makes me personally think of an X pattern and I would more likely use it for something that is mixed up, rather than organized. – Todd Wilcox Jul 7 '16 at 16:30
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    'Crossways' sounds wacky to my (American) ears. Not even sure what that means. I would guess it might mean what you're intending it to mean, but just because 'cross' is in it. – DCShannon Jul 8 '16 at 2:16
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    @ToddWilcox but if you look at the stack from the top, it does form an X (admittedly an extremely fat-legged one, but still). – Hellion Jul 8 '16 at 20:12

I don't think English has a single word for this which is unambiguous. I think it would be best to say something like:

I suggest stacking them in a criss-cross pattern, alternating between portrait and landscape orientations.


Stack them in a criss-cross pattern, with each one being a quarter-turn from the one below it.

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    +1 for suggesting further explanation because none of the single word suggestions are particularly clear without it. – Karen Jul 7 '16 at 17:22
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    I don't know if you need 'portrait' and 'landscape', those might be confusing, but "alternating orientation" seems like the best description on the page. – DCShannon Jul 8 '16 at 2:17

Staggered is a good word for it meaning an arrangement of things in a zigzag order so they are not in line


Rotate Offset is the term used by HP to define the feature of their printer that allows users to print multiple copies of a job in alternate orientations.

Rotating Collate is the term used by Ricoh in which every other print set is rotated by 90 degrees.

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    Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct, rather than just linking to other sites; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 7 '16 at 17:14
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    Thanks, @gattsbr. +1 As for my second example, can I say "collate them in a rotating manner."? – Soudabeh Jul 7 '16 at 17:16
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    @Soudabeh first as Tanner Swett answer states: "I don't think English has a single word for this which is unambiguous." That being said, I see nothing wrong with "collate them in a rotating manner.", especially in the context of handouts. – gattsbr Jul 7 '16 at 17:36
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    The people that down-vote your answer are unlikely to see your comment. It's best just to ignore it and pay attention to the folks that have taken the time to give you feedback. Now that you've edited your answer to incorporate @NathanTuggy 's suggestion, you might tag him in a comment to give him the opportunity to retract his DV (if it is his - it may not be). – ColleenV Jul 7 '16 at 20:56
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    @underscore_d this refers to the orientation of the paper(or set thereof) inside of a stack of papers(or set thereof). The orientation of the print on the paper would still be defined as portrait or landscape based on the settings for the content of the document. – gattsbr Jul 10 '16 at 19:28

I can't think of a single word, but "alternating directional pattern" fits well.

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    Personally I would just use "alternating" or maybe "with alternating orientation". +1 here instead of putting my own answer. – Todd Wilcox Jul 7 '16 at 16:26
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    I would challenge the notion that books have a "direction" – RJFalconer Jul 7 '16 at 16:32
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    @RJFalconer While true, I bet if you instructed most people to stack books in alternating directions, they would do exactly what is being asked in the question. – UnhandledExcepSean Jul 7 '16 at 19:35

You could say to stack them alternating from portrait to landscape.

to interchange repeatedly and regularly with one another in time or place; rotate (usually followed by with):


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    +1 for "alternating" but I feel like the words portrait and landscape would confuse me if the question is not about printing things. Certainly when it is books that are stacked, as in the image in the question, those two words would confuse me. – Todd Wilcox Jul 7 '16 at 16:27



  1. (transitive) To intersperse (something) at regular intervals between the parts of a thing
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    Without proper context provided, this could be mistaken for interleaving the pages of the books – valbaca Jul 6 '16 at 20:21

You can stack more books if you put them in a/ an ___ manner.

Please make 25 sets of copies of pages 1-10 from this book, then collate the copies so that each set is bundled separately. I suggest to stack them in a/ an___manner.

If you want a one word term, staggered or criss-cross seem closest but not acceptable at conveying what you want to express. Criss-cross would imply that the papers are intersecting each other making a cross pattern. Staggered implies that each set will be aligned differently, but doesn't give any more information as to how they are aligned.

I suggest "stagger the sets in horizontal-vertical alignment" or "stack the sets in a portrait-landscape stagger"... and even with these there is probably a need for extra instruction. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I would suggest crosswise staggered. Staggered means that each item (normally an unbound set of pages) is kept together so it can be picked up on its own easily. In a context where that is an issue, like making copies, this explains the purpose so even if it’s not understood exactly, the listener will do something appropreate and useful to the task.

For books, if the listener seems puzzled, add “…like when making copies.” This gives contextual clues to what staggered means.


Stacked in a "checkered" pattern is a candidate. Basket-weave is another one!
Admittedly both words are not very common but would do the job!

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    Both words are reasonably common, but not usually used for stacks. Rather, they're used for patterns on a surface. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 7 '16 at 5:20

Crosshatched is another option.

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    Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 8 '16 at 0:06
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    I agree with Nathan, but that being said, this sounds pretty good. I think I would know what you meant if you said to stack them crosshatched. – DCShannon Jul 8 '16 at 2:19
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    Your point is taken well, but this is a colloquialism. How should that be presented? – Lighthart Jul 8 '16 at 6:14
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    On word requests, you generally want to include a definition of the suggested word. Here is one: "To mark or shade with two or more intersecting sets of parallel lines. 1. A pattern made by such lines.". Then describe how that meaning is similar to what you're going for. – DCShannon Jul 9 '16 at 1:52

I don't think you will get one word for it; perhaps a phrase that captures the intent?

Perhaps - "an alternating axial/transverse pattern". But this will assume there is a frame of reference alluded to be the axial - axis...


Not so much for books, but for paper print outs I've seen the term collated used

collect and combine (texts, information, or data).

"all the information obtained is being collated"

So for example, if you print out 50 copies of a 10 page document you can collate them like the above to make it easier to distribute.

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    Collating is more the general goal that this stacking technique is used for than the actual technique itself. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 7 '16 at 6:03
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    Technically, collating just means putting the various pages of each copy together, rather than having all the pages 1s next to each other, then all page 2s, etc. It's even a concept because early copiers had no on-board memory in which to store pages, so if you wanted 50 copies, you got 50 of page 1 then 50 of page 2, etc. The fact that a set of copies are collated says nothing about how the collated copies are stacked, staggered, separated, or whatever. – Todd Wilcox Jul 7 '16 at 16:24

I think putting it in the simplest way can avoid ambiguity.

Thus,you can say: put the books lengthwise or widthwise.

It is unlikely you would want to stack the books in more than two configurations.

  • But or suggests an option on how to stack the books, which the OP does not. – Alan Carmack Aug 2 '16 at 4:38

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