Adding page numbers (also called folios) to a printed book, catalog or magazine enables the reader to easily keep track of the pages. This can be to quickly access specific chapters or sections or simply to follow progress through a publication. It is up to the designer to decide if page numbering is appropriate and useful for a particular project. There is no point adding page numbers to a 4-page flyer for example.
Not all print projects require page numbers. Many print projects also do not need numbering throughout.
Printed Publications Suitable for Page Numbering
Most books, many catalogs, and any publications that have a table of contents or glossary require page numbering. A standard book is normally divided into chapters that give the reader natural breaks. These can be in the narrative, as in the case of a story such as a novel. Chapters also mark different sections, possibly covering various subjects. Page numbering allows readers to quickly access the relevant sections.
This is particularly useful when the publication is likely to be accessed repeatedly.
A cookbook or academic book would be a good example of this. A reader may only be interested in one section or constantly refer to a certain chapter.
Magazines, newspapers, brochures, and reports are all normally numbered to help the reader.
Where to Place Page Numbers
The most common position for page numbers is in the center at the bottom or bottom left or right corners. If using the latter system, make sure these numbers fall in the corners away from the binding edge. Another popular position is at the top of the page, either in the center or left and right. The exact position depends on the style of the publication. As a general rule, right-hand pages use odd numbers and left-hand pages use even numbers. It is important page numbers are placed at least 5mm from the trimming area. The numbering needs to be useful and not interfere with the text.
Some publications will emphasize the page numbers as part of the design, to make them stand out.
Not every page may require numbering. A book may have titles, an introduction, and acknowledgments at either the beginning of the end. These pages do not necessarily require page numbering. Some books contain blank pages at the front or back, again page numbering is not essential for these.
A cookbook, for example, may have pages of recipes opposite a page with a full out image. To give the image maximum impact, the numbers may be omitted from these pages.
Page Numbering Styles
As a general rule, page numbering will begin on a right-hand page with No. 1 and then follow on from there. Magazines, newspapers and most booklets will start the numbering with page one being the front cover. Therefore a 32-page booklet will be numbered from 1 through to 32. A catalog or brochure with a hardcover or a cover in a different material from the main text may start the numbering on the first inner page.
Many books and technical journals will number any prefaces and indexes using a different page numbering system. This is to separate the main copy of the book from the reference sections, but still provide a searchable facility. Roman numerals are commonly used for this effect.
The page numbering needs to be large enough to be visible but of a size that doesn’t distract the reader. A clean, legible font is preferable, using the same position on every page, depending on whether it’s left or right (verso or recto).
How to Number Your Pages
Once you have decided on your numbering style and position, your document artwork can be started. Luckily you don’t need to manually page number your project! Unless of course, it is a design feature. Professional page make-up software such as Adobe InDesign and Quark Xpress have the facility to automatically apply and place page numbers. Microsoft Word also has this feature. It is also possible to create different sections within a publication using different styles. So, you can create pages with no numbering and maybe two different styles, all in the software.
Master pages, using different styles, will automatically number the document as it is created and added to.
Printers may number the pages differently with a system where numbers don’t appear on the final job. The numbers are placed outside the printed area but within the boundaries of the printed sheet. This is so the print minders and finishers can accurately check and fold the job correctly. A 48-page book may have only 40 numbers that print within the job. The printer will add blind folios in order to ensure the project is produced correctly.
Blind folios are also added when a printed book, catalog or booklet has no printed numbering as part of its design.