The Story of the Page Number @ Link Wanderlust


You usually take the page number for granted. It doesn’t even figure in a famous book on typography but a lot of thought goes into where the page number should be on the page. It was Jan Tschichold who created the simple page number design as we know it today. A lot of things should be taken into account while creating a page number; for instance, eye movement is taken into consideration. Then other factors including where the page number is first placed, the odd and even placement of numbers on the verso and recto, the bookbinding requirements, etc.

“Merriam-Webster identifies two types of placements: “prominent” and “unobtrusive.” Prominent placement puts the folio on the top upper left and right of the leaf. Unobtrusive puts it anywhere on the bottom. The folios are placed in line with the running head (along which the chapter titles or title of the book rest) if they are at the top, but if the running head contains numbers the folios are better suited to the bottom of the page. The first pages of each new chapter dispense with the folio entirely to avoid clashing with the chapter headings.

Ultimately, the decision to make folios prominent or unobtrusive turns on what function they’re meant to serve in a particular book: a practical or aesthetic one.”

If that fascinates you, read What of the lowly page number by Marlon Ettinger.

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