Quill Books before print mediamediamediamediamediamedia
choosing a writing support
making quires and sheets
preparing the page
copying the text
correcting the text
decorating the book
binding the book
using the book
> Copying the Text > Foliation

One, two, three

Until the invention of the page number readers had no means to find a particular page in the book quickly. The system medieval scribes came up with is slightly different from our modern pagination. Only one side of each leaf was given a number, meaning that medieval "foliation" referred to not one but two pages. This image shows the Roman folium "xxxiiij" (34). The penciled "36" is modern (the number is different because it also counts two added flyleaves in front of the manuscript).
Although the practice of placing a number sequence throughout the book is observed in some earlier manuscripts, it became popular in the thirteenth century. Scholars at the university, for example, found it easier to reference information on certain pages if they were numbered. The sequential numbering of leaves allowed for the production of more detailed subject indexes and tables of contents, both of which are still in use today. Finding information was now as easy as one, two, three.