1 The parts of a book

1.5 Folios and running heads

1.5.1 Introduction

The term folio has two meanings in print production: it is used of the sheets of a script and also of the page number as a designed element on a typeset page. The latter meaning is the one relevant to this section. A running head (or running headline, headline, header, or running title) is a book title, chapter title, or other heading which appears at the top of every page or spread. Folios and running heads usually fall on the same horizontal line in the head (or top) margin of the page, though the designer may decide to position them in the foot (bottom) margin—in which case the text is called a running foot (or running footline or footer)—or even at the fore-edge (outer margin). They thus appear outside the text area of the page. Another option is to use running heads but to place folios at the foot of the page. Technically the entire line is the running head, but in editorial parlance the term is restricted to the textual material, excluding the folio.

1.5.2 Folio

The folio (set in lower-case Roman numerals in the prelims and in Arabic numerals for the text and end matter of the book) usually appears at the outer top edges of the spread, or centred at the foot.

All pages are counted in the pagination sequence, but the folio is not shown on some pages, including some in the prelims, turned pages (that is, those on which material is printed in landscape format), those taken up entirely by illustrations, figures, or tables, and blank pages. On a chapter opening page the folio usually appears in the foot margin (see 1.3.4).

1.5.3 Running heads

Running heads are not found in all books: for instance, they may not appear in modern fiction or in highly designed illustrated books.

Running heads, like folios, are omitted from some pages of the book. These include: any section of the prelims that has no section heading (half-title, title, and imprint pages, the dedication and epigraph); part titles; any page on which a chapter heading occurs (including sections in the front matter and end matter); blank pages. They are often omitted on turned pages and on full-page illustrations, figures, or tables.

The content of the running heads depends on the nature of the book. As a general rule, if the same running head is not used on verso and recto, the larger section generates the head on the verso and the smaller that on the recto: for example, the book or part title may be used on the verso, the chapter title on the recto; in a textbook the chapter title might be used on the verso and a numbered subheading on the recto (though running heads that change every few pages should if possible be avoided for the sake of economy). In a multi-author work authors’ names normally appear on the verso and chapter titles on the recto. In encyclopedias it is common to reflect the first headword on the verso and the last on the recto in the running heads, whereas dictionaries tend to give the first and last headword on each page in that page’s running head.

Sections in the prelims and end matter generally carry the same running head on the verso and recto. Ideally, however, running heads for endnotes should change on every page, indicating the text pages or chapters to which each page of notes refers: for example Notes to pages 157–99, or Notes to Chapter 6, rather than just Notes.

Running heads should match the material from which they are derived in every respect—wording, capitalization, and so on. This is usually generated automatically by desktop publishing software; however, if the book, chapter, or other titles used are very long they must be truncated for the running heads, which should not exceed about forty characters (including spaces) for most books, as a very rough rule of thumb—in this case, supply a list of shortened heads with the copy for the rest of the book.

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New Hart's Rules


Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms