How can I tell whether I have an Octavo or Quarto?
Octavos will have eight pages on each side of the sheet, whereas quartos will have four. The sheet below is an octavo from Venus and Adonis (1599)
For books in the octavo format, each sheet will need to be folded in half three times. When folding, start with the first sheet (A-sheet). Find either the title page or the page with the signature “A1r” and arrange the sheet so that this page is in the lower right corner. See above.
First Fold: Fold the sheet in half (left half under the right half) and keep the title page or “A1r” in the bottom right corner. See the results below
Second Fold: Fold the sheet in half (top side under the bottom side) and keep the title page or “A1r” in the bottom right corner. See the results below.
Third Fold: Do it again! Fold the sheet in half (left side under the right side) and keep the title page or “A1r” in the bottom right corner. See the results below.
Repeat the process with all sheets in the octavo. Keep them in order so that the A-sheet stays on top, then proceed through the B-sheet, C-sheet, D-sheet, and so on.
Reminder: Always keep the signature with a plain letter (“B” or “C”) in the bottom right corner.
With scissors or a paper cutter, trim the top edge and fore-edge of each folded sheet. Now, you should be able to turn the pages in each gathering. You can also take this time to cut off any blank pages at the beginning or end of the book, if you wish. See the editorial statement in each book to learn more about why there are extra blank pages in your book.
For binding your book, return to “How to Make the Books.” Here is a simple staple holding the sheets together.