On the design and imposition of Title Pages

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Kaisa Breeden's picture
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Joined: 6 Sep 2004 - 8:16pm
On the design and imposition of Title Pages
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Hello everyone,

I’m researching the do’s and don’ts of title pages now…

Tschichold says (In “The Form of the Book”) not to place the title in the centre of the page’s width, and not to let it go beyond the limits of the text block. Oliver Simon (in “Introduction to Typography”) says the inner and outer margins of the title page will differ from the text in that the inner margin will be increased a little and the outer decreased proportionately”.

A lot of title pages in current books seem to be in the centre of the page to me… is this because of ignorance or my bad eyesight or are books just not designed like this anymore?

I’m currently designing a book whose textblocks have narrow gutter margins and wide front margins, and so the (centred) text on the title page (when working within the limits of the texblock used throughout the book) is noticeably closer to the spine.

Anyone have any thoughts about these things, any more do’s and don’ts?

Kaisa Breeden's picture
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Joined: 6 Sep 2004 - 8:16pm
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Well, I’m still wondering. I’ll just have to have a conversation with myself, then.

There seems to be strong evidence that title pages used to be imposed in keeping with the position of the textblock. This doesn’t seem to be the case much these days, though, which seems a pity to me.

Anyone here design books and impose their title pages in line with the textblock? I spied a link on Typographi.com that has a scan of a page from an old book that’s designed “tradtionally”: http://typographi.com/000950.php#000950. The article is about “Contrasts in Book Design”.

There’s also a book by Margaret A. Smith called “The Title-Page: Its Early Development, 1460-1510, published by Oak Knoll. Apparently, it’s the first book published on this subject since A.W. Pollard’s “Last Words” in 1891. Which looks scrumptious.

C’mon — somebody say something!

Kaisa Breeden's picture
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Joined: 6 Sep 2004 - 8:16pm
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Sorry Tiffany, forgive my ignorance but what is the “gloss”?

Kaisa Breeden's picture
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Joined: 6 Sep 2004 - 8:16pm
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Wow — thank you!

William Berkson's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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Kaisa, you should look at Bringhurst’s Elements of Typographic Style. He has extensive discussions of the proportions of the book page, the margins, and the text block. These will relate to the title page. Bringhurst does get rhapsodic about a good title page, and I also I think your concern is well placed.

I would like to know the answer to your question as well.

I can see the point of centering the text relative to a wider inner margin in the title page; this is because being at the beginning of the book less of the margin is usually ‘eaten’ by the binding.

I guess this relates to the broader question of how to compensate for the binding in design. I also haven’t really seen good guidelines on this.

Kaisa Breeden's picture
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Joined: 6 Sep 2004 - 8:16pm
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I love “Elements”. I read it over and over and pick up something new every time. I hadn’t noticed anything in there pertaining to imposition of title pages in particular, but following what has been said of it in the past by the likes of Tschichold and reading Elements etc it does make sense that the principles pertaining to textblocks and their margins would extend to the title page. We just see so little of it.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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I don’t think many people are concerned with that level of attention to details. In the few books for which I’ve done the typesetting I do have a narrower outer margin in (sort of) proportion to the inner margin. I also center my title page according to these same margins and not to the page width. This history of this, I believe, goes back to the golden section (mean?) of the page and how larger manuscripts would leave room for the gloss.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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(from Fact Monster, because I couldn’t explain it better) gloss [Gr.,=tongue], explanatory note on a word or words of a text, usually written between the lines or in a margin of a manuscript. In copying a manuscript, a copyist sometimes incorporated a gloss in the text, so that the copy departed from the original. The gloss may be in a language different from that of the text. Old glosses on the Bible have value as evidence of tradition, as have glosses in civil and canon law.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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A sample with extensive gloss: http://www.heritagehawks.org/faculty/dbrown/manuscript/Manuscripts/ glossbible.html

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Glad to help … although I’m not sure it deserves a “wow”. Paleography was my first path for my MA Thesis so I have a few links saved.