The Printed Book

by Harry G. Aldis, M.A. Cambridge at the University Press 1916

Construction of a Book Part 3

Since the terms 'page' and 'leaf' are occasionally confused, it may be observed that a page is one side of a leaf, and a leaf may therefore have two pages printed upon it, one on each side. The first page of a leaf, the right-hand page of an open book, is called the recto of the leaf, and the second page, the left hand page of the open book, the verso. When every page is numbered, the book is said to be paged; but when a number is given to each leaf only, the book is said to be folioed.

The selection of the type to be used for a book depends in great measure upon the size of the page and the amount of matter contained in the work. If the book is very long it may be necessary to use a small type in order to keep it within the desired compass, and other considerations will have to give way; but in many cases the choice is unhampered by this condition. To make a presentable book one that shall in the general appearance of its page satisfy the eye, and at the same time be comfortable to read-the size of type must be carefully considered in relation to the size and shape of the page. The length of line, the number of lines to a page, and also the relative proportions of the margins have to be studied. The main thing to be aimed at is legibility. Too long a line of small type is trying to the eye, both in following the line and in picking up the next; while large type closely crowded gives a confused effect and is almost as bad.

The proportion of the margins on the four sides of the printed page has an important influence upon the appearance of a book. These proportions are not equal, and they are not haphazard. If all the margins were of the same width, the printed page would appear to be both nearer the outer edge and lower down than its actual position, as if the print were slipping off the page. Experts in such matters tell us that the aesthetic unit is not a single page, but that the two pages shewn in one opening must be taken together, and that the margins to be of the correct width should be in the following relative proportions: upper, 1; lower, 2; inner,!; outer, Ii.

The type used in books of to-day is usually one of three styles: Old Face, Old Style, or Modern Face. Specimens of these are shewn on the opposite page. Besides these three styles of letter, other forms of type are occasionally used in book work. A group of heavier faced types, generally called Antique, of which this paragraph gives an example, has met with some favor. In a small size it is certainly clearer to read than ordinary type, but in the larger sizes the letters do not sufficiently blend to make the word the apparent unit in the page, and the individual letters assert themselves to the eye in reading.