AskDefine | Define sextodecimo

User Contributed Dictionary



From ablative of sextusdecimus


  1. In the context of "paper|printing": A size of a sheet of paper resulting from folding and cutting a sheet of paper into sixteenths (3.25"-5" x 5"-6.25").
  2. A book consisting of pages of that size.

Extensive Definition

The size of a specific book is measured from the head to tail of the spine, and from edge to edge across the covers.
However, in bookbinding, printing, and publishing, a series of terms are used to indicate the approximate size of a book. These terms are derived from the number of leaves created from a standard size sheet of paper (48 cm x 64 cm; 19" x 25") when each signature of the book is printed.
For example, a quarto book results when four leaves are created from each sheet of paper. The resulting book will be approximately 32 cm (12.5") tall and 24 cm (9.5") wide, before trimming. Each leaf usually has a printed page or an intentionally blank page on each side, so a quarto signature usually represents eight pages of the book.
Octavo and quarto are the most common book sizes, but many books are produced in larger (folio) and smaller sizes as well. These terms are often abbreviated, using 4to for quarto; 8vo for octavo; and so on. The octavo format, with eight leaves per gathering, has half the page size of the quarto format. Smaller formats include the duodecimo (or "twelvemo"), with twelve leaves per sheet and pages one-third the size of the quarto format; and the sextodecimo (or "sixteenmo"), with sixteen leave per sheet, half the size of the octavo format and one quarter the size of the quarto.
  • Height is "Outside Height": head-to-foot of the book's cover.Book Sizes
In modern times, other terms for book size have developed. An elephant size or elephant folio is at most 58 cm (23 inches) tall. An Atlas folio is at most 64 cm (25 inches). A double elephant folio is at most 127 cm (50 inches) tall.
The printed signatures are bound together to form an entire book. Before the covers are bound to the book, the block of text pages is usually trimmed along the three unbound edges to open the folds of the paper and to produce smooth edges for the book. As a result, the final size of a book will depend on whether and how much the paper is trimmed; and the way the book is bound, particularly the covers used. In the 19th century and early 20th century, European booksellers often sold books with thin paper covers, which a buyer could take to a bookbinder of his/her choice. Such customers often had books bound in leather and often in matched sets. These books were typically untrimmed: the bookbinder could trim the pages before binding or could leave the pages uncut. The reader could then cut the pages with a penknife while reading the book.
The biggest book in the world is Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom by Michael Hawley, which measures 1.5 m x 2.1 m (5 feet x 7 feet.



  • Lewis, Arthur William. Basic Bookbinding. 1957.
sextodecimo in Danish: Folio
sextodecimo in German: Buchformat
sextodecimo in French: In-folio
sextodecimo in Icelandic: Tvíblöðungur (prentun)
sextodecimo in Italian: In folio
sextodecimo in Chinese: 开本
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