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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XXIII The Size of a Book

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XXIII The Size of a Book

FORMERLY the pages of all books conformed to certain sizes, which were considered standard; but at the present time, although these standard sizes remain, page dimensions vary to suit conditions, and the old standard sizes are not altogether adhered to.

The standard size of a book was based upon a sheet of paper twenty-five by thirty-eight inches, or rather upon half this size, or nineteen by twenty-five inches. When the paper or half-sheet is cut so as to make four leaves, the book is known as a quarto (4to) ; when cut into eight leaves, octavo (8vo) ; when cut into twelve leaves, duodecimo (12 mo); eighteen leaves being known as 18 mo.; and twenty-four leaves being designated as 24 mo.

The usual novels and books of fiction, including many text-books and other works, are duodecimo or octavo.

The thickness of a book is, of course, dependent upon its number of pages and the thickness of the paper used. Some publishers use a thin and yet opaque paper, while others prefer what is known as regular book paper, a stock with a soft surface. The size of type used further determines the bulkiness of the book.

Roman type is invariably used for the text of all books, except a few in which a fancy letter appears ; but as Roman type is more familiar to the reader than is any other face, and is easier to read, Roman is given the preference, and comparatively few books are set in other than this face.

The type lines in most books are leaded; that is, the lines of type are not set close together, and there is a space between them. The following paragraphs present standard faces of type used in books:

This paragraph is set in Twelve Point or Pica type, which is the largest size usually appearing in books, the majority of books being set in smaller type. This paragraph is set in Eleven Point or Small Pica, which is the usual size in novels and works of fiction, and for many textbooks. It is probably the most readable size.

This paragraph is set in Ten Point or Long Primer, a size which appears usually in paper-covered books, and not infrequently in those which are cloth-bound.

This paragraph is set in Eight Point or Brevier. It is not much used in cloth-hound books, but sometimes appears in textbooks and in those which are paper-covered. It is quite readable, if leaded, or when the type width is shorter than that of the average book published.

There are several faces of Roman, commercially known by arbitrary names, like Scotch Roman, Century, Clearface, etc.

Most books are set in what are known as Modern and Old Style Roman. The letters in the former are somewhat shaded, that is to say, the lines are not of the same width, while those in the latter are practically the same. Old Style Roman is used more than is Modern, but either is very readable.