I regularly write texts in LaTeX. Its book class places page numbers on pages of normal text but not on chapter-starting pages. Some books use roman letters in the beginning, and I was criticised by TeX users for using roman letters in the bibliography as required by my institutions guidelines.

Does typography provide a statement when and where to use which types of page numbering? My intuition tells me:

  • Use lowercase roman letters in the front matter
  • Do not use any pagination on special pages like the table of contents, chapter-beginnings etc.
  • Do not change the arabic pagination in the end of the book, i.e., continue as in the main part

What do you think? I am looking forward to both your opinion and references to typographic practices concerning page numbering.


1 Answer 1


For an understanding of some of the terms used in the answer (which is essentially quoting of sections from CMS), consider looking at this.

For a quick answer:

The Chicago Manual of Style (borrowed from here) has the following to say about pagination:

Using arabic numerals, number the pages in the upper right corner. Do not number the title page but count it in the manuscript numbering; that is, the first page of the text will be numbered 2. Depending on your instructor’s preference, you may also use a short title or your last name before the page numbers to help identify pages.

For a detailed look:

Further quoting the Chicago Manual of Style (1.62):

Part titles and their versos are counted in the pagination, even though their page numbers do not appear (unless a part introduction begins on either of these pages)

Quoting section 1.100 (on pagination):

Modern books are paginated consecutively, and all leaves (except endpapers) are counted in the pagination whether or not the numbers appear. Various locations on the page are acceptable for the page number, or folio. It is most commonly found at the top of the page, flush left verso, flush right recto. The folio may also be printed at the bottom of the page, and in that location it is called a drop folio. Drop folios usually appear either centered on each page or flush left verso and flush right recto. A page number that does not appear is known as blind folio. Not paginated are leaves or signatures—such as color illustrations or photo galleries—that are inserted after pages have been made up.


The front matter of a book, especially in the United States, is paginated with lowercase roman numerals. This traditional practice is also expedient, for some of these pages (for example, the preface, acknowledgments, and dedication)...


No page number appears on display pages (half title, title, copyright, dedication, epigraph). A drop folio (or no folio) is used on the opening page of each succeeding section of the front matter. Blank pages show no page number.


The text begins with arabic page 1. If the text begins with a second half title or with a part title, the half title or part title counts as page 1, its verso counts as page 2, and the first arabic number to appear is the drop folio (3) on the first page of text. If there is no part title or half title, the first page of the text proper becomes page 1. Page numbers generally do not appear on part titles, but if text appears on a part title, a drop folio may be used.


The opening page of each chapter and of each section in the back matter carries either a drop folio or no page number. Page numbers and running heads are usually omitted on pages containing only illustrations or tables, except in books with long sequences of figures or tables.

Summarized version of CMS

Here we see a short discussion on pagination, which is more or less the same as Chicago Manual of Style. To quote segments:

There are numerous pages in a book that are considered display pages. These include the half title(s), title page, copyright, dedication, and epigraph. If a part title page has no text on it, it is usually considered a display page as well. No page number appears on these display pages.

In the United States it is common practice to paginate the front matter of a book with lowercase roman numerals (i, ii, iii).

The first page of text begins with arabic page 1. If the text opens with a second half title, or if the book uses part titles, and the text begins with the title for Part I, the half title or part title counts as page 1, its reverse (verso) is (page) 2, and the first arabic number that would appear is the drop folio (page) 3 on the first text page. If text appears on the part title, a drop folio (page) 1 can appear also. If there’s no part title or half title, the first page of the text becomes page 1. Usually, page numbers (and running heads) are left off pages that have only illustrations, charts or tables, unless the book has an extended number of pages dedicated to a long sequence of figures or tables or similar content.

  • 3
    An interesting fact about the roman numerals in the front matter is of course that it would not be needed any more today. This is a tradition from when you simply could not know how long the front matter would be beforehand, simply because the ToC had to be compiled after the main content was done. Feb 13, 2014 at 16:39

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