The Printed Book

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

Construction of a Book Part 7

If corrections are likely to be extensive, proofs are generally sent out in slip form, that is, in strips before being made up into pages; because, after the type is put into pages, alterations which involve the transfer of lines from one page to another are troublesome to effect. It is when the proof is in pages that the head-lines (the descriptive line at the top of the page) are added. These usually consist of the short title of the book on the left-hand page, and on the right-hand page the title of the chapter or the subject matter of the page itself. To have merely the title of the book running on both pages throughout the volume is a slovenly practice and suggests careless indifference on the part of both author and publisher. The head-line too is the right, because convenient, place for the page numbers, and not the bottom, where they look as if they had strayed out of the page and were trying to escape observation. Why the first page of a chapter should generally be denied its head-line and page number is one of those hidden secrets known only to those who follow 'the mystery and art of printing.

At the end of the book comes the Index, an appendage which does not always receive the attention it deserves. 'The labor and patience, the judgment and the penetration which are required to make a good index, is only known to those who have gone through this most painful, but least praised part of a publication,' was the considered opinion of the eighteenth-century bibliographer William Oldys; and yet earlier Nicolas Antonio, the Spanish bibliographer, related as the dictum of a celebrated compatriot, 'that the index of a book should be made by the author, even if the book itself were written by some one else1.' With the exception of cyclopaedias and dictionaries, almost every book that aims at being useful requires an index to make its store of knowledge accessible. More than one treatise has recently been devoted to the principles of making a good index. Here it must suffice to say that, unless there are special reasons to the contrary, it is better to have but one index than to make separate lists for persons, places, and things. Tl.1e references should be to individual 1 H. B. Wheatley: What is an Index? (1878), p. 18. points and should not be classified under headings; in the alphabetical arrangement each word must be considered a unit. The use of a dash for repetition at the beginning of an entry should be confined, if used at all, to words having precisely the same meaning.