Folio (printing)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Folio (abbreviated fo or ) is a technical term describing the format of a book, which refers to the size of leaves produced from folding a full sheet of paper on which multiple pages of text were printed. A folio is a book or pamphlet made up of one or more full sheets of paper on which four pages of text were printed, which sheets were then folded once to produce two leaves. Each leaf of a folio book thus represents one half the size of the original sheet. Ordinarily, additional printed folio sheets would be inserted inside another to form a group or "gathering" of leaves prior to binding the book. Other common book formats are quartos and octavos. Famous folios include the Gutenberg Bible, printed in about 1455, and the First Folio collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, printed in 1623. Folio also is used as a general description of size of books that are about 15 inches tall, and as such does not necessarily indicate the actual printing format of the books, which may even be unknown as is the case for many modern books.

Contents

Folio as format

A folio (from Latin foliō, abl. of folium, leaf ) is a book or pamphlet made up of one or more full sheets of paper on which four pages of text were printed, which were then folded one time to produce two leaves. Each leaf of a folio book thus represents one half the size of the original sheet.

There are variations in how folios were produced. For example, bibliographers call a book printed as a folio (two leaves per full sheet), but bound in gatherings of 8 leaves each, a "folio in 8s."

The actual size of a folio book depends on the size of the full sheet of paper on which it was printed.

The Gutenberg Bible was printed in about 1455 as a folio, in which four pages of text were printed on each sheet of paper, which were then folded once. Several such folded conjugate pairs of leaves were inserted inside another to produce the sections or gatherings, which were then sewn together to form the final book.

Folios were a common format of books printed in the incunabula period (books printed before 1501), although the earliest printed book, surviving only as a fragment of a leaf, is a quarto. The British Library Incunabula Short Title Catalogue currently lists about 28,100 different editions of surviving books, pamphlets and broadsides (some fragmentary only) printed before 1501, of which about 8,600 are folios, representing just over 30 percent of all works in the catalogue.

Folio as size

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, technology permitted the manufacture of large sheets or rolls of paper on which books were printed, many text pages at a time. As a result, it may be impossible to determine the actual format (i.e., number of leaves formed from each sheet fed into a press). The term "folio" as applied to such books may refer simply to the size, i.e., books that are approximately 15 inches (38 cm) tall.

Shakespeare folios

From the earliest days of printing, folios were often used for expensive, prestigious volumes. In the Seventeenth Century, plays of the English Renaissance theatre were printed as collected editions in folio. Thirty-six of Shakespeare's plays, for example, were included in the First Folio collected edition of 1623, which was followed by additional folio editions, referred to as the Second Folio, etc. Other playwrights in this period also published their plays in folio editions, such as Ben Jonson's collected works of 1616.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Folio (printing)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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