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
> Making Quires and Sheets > Biofolium

Bonding Sheets

Quires are usually made from bifolia (singular: bifolium) or double
sheets of parchment or paper. To create a bifolium, a sheet is folded
in half (each half is called a 'folium', which consists of two 'pages',
i.e. the front and back of the folium). If the quire is the building
block of the medieval book, the bifolium is what defines the quire:
four, five or six of them were bundled up and subsequently filled
with text.

Looking closely at the binding of the book, each bifolium appears
to embrace its neighbor, bonding together to produce a strong
quire. Before roughly 1200, bifolia were usually cut from processed
animal skins, each of which usually supplied usually one to three
double sheets. They were either cut from the skin or the skin was
simply folded, either once (folio), twice (quarto), or three times
(octavo). Paper double sheets were exclusively produced by
folding the full sheet.