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February 1st, 2016

Why are there Blank Pages in Books?


A blank page in a book

Ever been curious why there are blank pages in books? Is it a waste of paper?

Fortunately, there are some perfectly logical explanations, and the extra pages often actually make the printing process more efficient. Whether you need to know because you’re working on a book layout or you’re just curious, read on to find out what those blank pages are all about.

Blank pages at the end of a book

The most extraneous seeming blank pages are those you can find in the back of many books. These are the result of signatures.

When books are printed on an offset printer, many pages of the book are printed onto one large sheet of paper. This paper is then folded into sections called signatures, which usually consist of 16-24 pages of the book. The signatures are then stacked on top of each other and bound together to create the book.

Because there are 16-24 pages in each signature, the final printed page of the book often falls before the end of a signature, causing the remainder of that signature’s pages to be blank.

You can read more about the technicalities of offset printing in our article Digital vs. Offset Book Printing.

Blank pages before the start of a new chapter

This other common cause of blank pages is a stylistic choice rather than a technical issue. Many authors like to have every new chapter start on a right (or, recto) page. That means that if the previous chapter ended on a recto page, the following left (or, verso) page will be blank.

Choosing to start all your chapters on recto pages (or choosing not to) is a purely aesthetic choice and up to you.

These are not the only reasons you’ll see blank pages in books, but they are two of the most common.

How do blank pages affect my book layout?

Of these two causes of blank pages in books, only the second will have an affect on how you layout the book. If you choose to have all your chapters start on right, then any blank pages you end up with should be completely blank, with no pages numbers.

If you are putting together a book layout and have any questions about blank pages, get in touch and we’ll get you all the information you need for your project.

Photo Source: Wikipedia