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Publishing is a science as well as an art and there are a lot of things book publishers need to understand and keep in mind when they create books.

Today we are going to talk about something very significant and reliable and something that is so obvious that we tend to ignore it for its simplicity and accuracy because it just works.

Today we are going to talk about proper book pagination. We are going to talk about book numbering techniques that professional publishers utilise.

There are many unwritten rules in pagination that are just passed down to subsequent generations of publishers for centuries and these are tips for numbering pages in books.

We will try to bring out those pagination strategies for authors. This is so that you can not only understand and get the best page numbering advice for books.

But it is also because you can actually utilize these book layout and numbering tips for self-publishing your book.

We would not suggest you start self-publishing your book based on just this blog alone because we would also recommend you to look at a few book formatting and numbering guides.

But this will be a very good starting point for you to understand chapter numbering in novels and page numbering in books in general.

So, let us look at tips for accurate book pagination.

Key Tips for Numbering Book Pages

The Odd-Even Rule

While this is not a rule but it is something so common that we can call it a rule. We are talking about the recto and the verso. While you can use any kind of creative book page numbering but this is something standard.

If you open a book then the sheet of paper on the right-hand side will be called the recto and the left-hand side or the back of the sheet will be called a verso.

The right-hand side is usually given an odd number which means the recto is always given an odd number and the left-hand side or the verso is given an even number.

But you must also keep in mind that this is only for left-to-right books. If the book is written in a language that is right to left then it can change.

It is a tradition carried on for centuries where recto comes from Rectum and means right in Latin. Verso comes from versus, which means to turn or change and means the other side of the sheet.

This rule also means it becomes much easier to start a new chapter from the right side of an open book which looks good in general. This is one of the most important tips for accurate book pagination.

Differently Numbered Pages

If you want to do proper page numbering then you should not only know how to number the page but you should also know which pages you should not number.

You must also know which pages should not contain the typical Arabic numerals but Roman numerals.

  • Let us start from the beginning as we come to the title page and it should not have any kind of numbering.
  • That is followed by the copyright page and you should not number that as well.
  • If you plan on having a dedication page where you dedicate the book to someone then you should avoid numbering that as well.
  • After that we come to the quotation page which is followed by a blank page and both of these pages should not be numbered. No blank pages should ever be numbered.
  • That is followed by the contents or the index. You do not necessarily have to put a number but if you do decide to give it a number then it should be Roman numerals and not Arabic numerals.
  • Then you can start the book but you might want to add a preface or foreword and you should also number it with Roman numerals. But you should only do it if you use Roman numerals in the index.
  • After that, we come to the body of the text which should be in Arabic numerals with odd numbers on the right side and even numbers being on the left side.
  • After the body of the text, you can then have the acknowledgement but you should number it in Arabic numerals as well.
  • And finally, we come to the notes which should also be numbered in Arabic numerals.

Page Number Placement

Now we come to the page number placement which is one of the other important factors that you must always keep in mind.

But before we tell you page number placement there is a simple rule that you must keep in mind. You must never place page numbers on the upper or lower left-hand side of the margin.

This means you must never place page numbers near the spine of the book. There is a chance that it might be covered inside the spine. And even if it is not covered it does not look nice.

  • If you want to go with the traditional way of doing things then you can place the page numbers bottom centre. This can be done 1 inch below the body of the text. But you must maintain the dimensions on every page and maintain uniformity.
  • Or you can place the page numbers on the bottom right-hand side of the page. While this is not as common as the bottom-centred approach but it is still a good way to put the numbers.

In fact, this is a better way of doing it since the numbers are much more visible and legible.

  • Then there is the upper right-hand corner approach. You can do this as well and there is nothing wrong with this.

But if you plan on doing something like upper-centred then that is kind of unusual but it is your book and you can do whatever you want.

Just that you should not place the numbers on the upper or lower left-hand side because it can cause issues during printing and after print.

Page Number Font

Now we are going to talk about something that is very subjective and it all depends on what you like and what you do not like. We will talk about page number fonts.

  • If you want to do it completely traditionally then you probably have chosen the lower-cantered approach for the number placement

That means you will love Times New Roman. It is one of the most classic Sherif fonts out there and you can use it on practically any kind of book if you want to number it.

  • If you want to give it a modern taste then you can use something like Nunito Sans. It is very legible and minimalist.
  • If you are writing fantasy or about the Middle Ages where the novel is set in older times then you can use something that is beyond classic which is Baskerville.
  • And if you want a no-fuzz approach then Arial is always there to help you because it is one of the most common fonds used for page numbering.
  • Let’s say if you are writing science fiction then we can only think about a very distinctive fond which is going to be Roboto.
  • If you are writing a dystopian novel such as 1984 then we got to just the perfect font for you which is going to be Bitter.
  • If you are going to write something Sci-Fi and the novel is set in the future then the best font for it is going to be something like JetBrains Mono.
  • If you do not want all these options anyone to keep it classic then we always have the trustee and dependable as well as elegant Cormorant Garamond.

It is going to be just the perfect kind of font if you are writing a detective novel such as Sherlock Holmes. It will fit right in with the Victorian landscape and setting.

We can go on and on about the different fonts you can use and as much as you like it we do not want to bore you with different choices.

The thing about fonts is that they are very personal and it all depends on what you like. All you have to do is pick up a few books of the same genre as your book and find out what fonts they are using.

But that is going to be the safe option. It is your book and if you want to use a wacky font that is unique and never used before then you are completely free to do it because you are self-publishing the book.

But stay away from Comic Sans.

We hope this blog has been helpful for you to know a little bit more about page numbering. Pagination is something that is seen as very trivial but it is something very important.

You need to have a basic understanding of book formats in order to get it right. But if you are someone who simply does not have the time to do all that and you simply want to submit your manuscript to be published then we are here for you.

We are Orange Publishers and we are the fastest growing and most popular book publishing company in India. We have the most streamlined publishing process where you simply send us the manuscript and we will do everything else.

We will do the page numbering and we will do the book cover design and the book formatting as well as the printing and the copyright and everything else in-house. We even do the distribution and book promotion as well.

We welcome you to visit our website and check out everything we do and we would love to get in touch with you

Common Pagination FAQs

What does it mean to number the pages of a book?

Numbering the pages of a book is very important and in fact, they serve very important purposes.

One of the most important technical benefits of having page numbers is during printing. When a book is being printed and then organised together, it must be in the correct order.

The quickest way to make sure that a book is in the correct order is to look at the page numbers.

The second most important thing is that it helps readers keep track of how much they have read the book. If you think about it, a novel cannot be read in a single day. That is why the readers can note down the page number and continue.

It is basically a navigation tool that helps the publishers as well as the readers and even the author when they are writing the book.

And if that book is studied by students then the page numbers are going to act as a reference for scholarly work.

What are the rules for page numbering?

There are no formal rules but there are certain things that have been practiced for so long that they have become standardised in the publishing industry.

One of the rules is that odd-numbered pages should be on the right and side and even numbers should be on the left side when you are numbering a book.

You must also make sure that the Arabic numeral numbering starts from the first page of chapter 1 of the book and not from the title page or the contents page.

You must also make sure that the numbering of the pages should be at the top or the bottom centre or right-hand side. Numbering is not done on the top or bottom left-hand side because that can get hidden by the spine during assembly.

How do you give numbering to the page?

The simplest way to do it is by using software. You are probably going to write the book on a computer or a laptop and not write it freehand or on a typewriter.

That means you will have the advantage of using professional grade book writing and formatting software.

While you can write the book on anything from Google Docs to Microsoft Word, you can then format it on any kind of book editor such as Vellum or Reedsy Book Editor.

You can even use a very popular writing software that is used by a lot of authors which is called Scrivener.

If you want the best layout and typesetting tools used by professionals in publishing companies then you can use Adobe InDesign. Although there might be a learning curve.