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layperson's definition of a "signature"

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layperson's definition of a "signature"

Postby marciamckean1 on Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:02 am

Since I am somewhat familiar with bookbinding, my book (reading) group recently asked me what a "signature" is. I had always thought that it referred to the sections of 16 pages (8 pages folded in the middle and sewn) that are put together to make a bound book. I see now that "signature" refers to the mark on the first page of any such section regardless of the number of pages, but it's unclear to me...

1. whether the section itself can be referred to as a "signature"
2. if the typical section (or signature?) is indeed sixteen pages
3. whether there are any consistent rules governing the length of individual sections

I would appreciate any help more expert bookbinders can give me on this, as I have promised to report back to the group. Thanks.
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Re: layperson's definition of a "signature"

Postby admin on Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:31 pm

A signature is formed by folding a sheet of paper, it can be a 4 page, an 8 page , a 16 page, a 32 page or even a 64 page signature. Modern folding machines may have other even number of pages forming a signature.
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Re: layperson's definition of a "signature"

Postby bookbum on Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:47 pm

To add.

The size of the signatures in a book (number of sheets each) is usually standard throughout the book. The exception being either the first or last signatures may be larger or smaller dependent upon how many pages were needed. I've seen signatures of 2 and 3 sheets (4 and 6 pages). I've also see and extra sheet thrown in with the first or last signature to make up the correct number of pages. Quite often, the only reason there is one or more blank pages at the end of a book is because the text didn't run long enough to fill out the signature.
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Re: layperson's definition of a "signature"

Postby Shea_M on Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:24 pm

The book Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books, A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology[i][/i] by Roberts and Etherington, offers this:

Signature: A section or gathering of a book, either in the flat or folded state, to which a SIGNATURE
MARK has been assigned. Technically, the sets of 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 printed pages when folded,
constitute a "section," while a "signature" is only the sequential mark of identification printed on the
initial page of the section; today, however, little if any distinction is made between the two expressions.

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