I would like to start each chapter on the right side of the book, as there are few chapters with a different point of view. I know numbering has to continue on the white page which might appear in between, but shall I print a number on it?

All the books I consulted didn't start on a new page, so I could not get any information out of it!

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    A doubt of mine also. I just submitted a book to a publisher and ignored all the blank pages, including the ToC. Only the actual content pages are numbered. Of course, I don't really care about that, since the publisher will decide what way he wants to do it. Commented May 27, 2013 at 10:01
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    Are you asking about the page numbering of the manuscript or of the final publication? Do you mean should the page be assigned a number or should its number be printed on it? The differences are important.
    – Fortiter
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 11:40
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    @Fortiter I supposed there should be assigned a number to those pages (it would be strange to get pair numbers on the right side of a page). The question was mainly about whether or not to print it! I ask for the final publication.
    – Sironsse
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 11:47
  • To clarify: Is this book a work of fiction or non-fiction? If the latter, please give us some detail about the kind of book. (Academic discipline if any, style guide followed, etc.) Commented May 29, 2013 at 15:15
  • Is there anyone who can scan and post an example of a professionally published book from recent years with a numbered blank page? Unless I see an example, I'll go by my experience which is that I have never seen a page number on a blank page in a book.
    – user5645
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 12:13

5 Answers 5


The question of whether a blank verso facing a chapter title carries its page number is a question of style determined by designers (if their publishing house does not already have a fixed policy.)

Since there will be nothing on the page to index, the number is not "necessary" for that purpose. Nevertheless, it will often be be printed simply because it is easier to follow a single procedure (number every page) than it is to introduce exceptions.

If you are self-publishing, make up you own mind on what you like (and can manage). If you are not, stop worrying about things outside your control.


The usual approach I saw is to keep the page completely blank - no number, nothing, but treat it as if there was one when it comes to the sequence, so you have, say, 50, 51, [blank], 53, [blank], 55, 56... One of reasons is that even and odd pages remain to respective sides of the book, and if you are on page 51, and you want to get to 55, you flip two pages in the book, and not some nondescript number depending on number of blank pages in between.

Also, "irregular pages" - end paper, map fold-outs, color print inserts on different paper (these aren't common nowadays but you find them in XIX and earlier XX century books frequently) etc don't get page numbers at all and are skipped in the numbering altogether. All pages of the "core print" have numbers even if they don't show them. It's not infrequent for the book to start with page 7, after 1: dedication, 3: title page, 5: part header.


A blank page (no number) is ambiguous: it could mean that there has been a printing error and there should have been content on that page, or the blank page could be intentional.
If you put a page number on the page, there's no ambiguity: there's no printing error, so the blank page must be intentional. This also means you can avoid the cumbersome "this page has intentionally been left blank" you sometimes see.
Example of the use of 'intentionally left blank' in an IBM manual.

  • You only see "this page has intentionally been left blank" in digital scans of physical books, e.g. in Google Books. Printed books have blank pages all the time.
    – user5645
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 12:09
  • Incorrect. Some companies (IBM is one, as I recall) and e.g. the US Army require blank pages to have the "intentionally left blank" legend.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 12:18
  • Okay, you are right if you are talking about technical manuals, reports and so on, but not if we talk about novels, scholarly textbooks and such.
    – user5645
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 12:42
  • It's something of a paradox, too: If they print "this page intentionally left blank" on the page, than it isn't blank, is it? It has the text "this page intentionally left blank" on it.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 14:30

I was just reading a book last night that begins each chapter on an odd-numbered page, and I remembered your question and checked. When it skips the even-numbered page, that page is completely blank: no page number.

In my humble opinion, a page with just a page number and no other text looks odd, and I'd avoid it. But on the scale of things, that would be very low on my list of things to worry about.


As Hobbes says, sometimes folks will put "this page intentionally left blank" or a similar message on pages that would otherwise be blank. But I can't think of any examples of this that I've seen other than in technical manuals. I've never seen this done in a novel or other non-fiction books. I presume the point is to re-assure the reader that the page is not blank because of a printing error. But in most books, if a printing error did result in a page being unintentionally left blank, that would be pretty obvious as you read the book. A sentence on the previous page would not be completed, there would be obvious missing information, etc. I think I could see it more in a legal document, where a lawyer might deliberately replace a printed page with a blank page so he could claim that the contract that his client signed never included the clause under dispute and he had no way of knowing that the other party intended for such a clause to be in there, etc.

  • What one book does isn't really representative. Commented May 29, 2013 at 15:14
  • @NeilFein No, but it's a data point. I didn't say that one example was definitive proof, just an example.
    – Jay
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 17:01
  • @NeilFein All books I remember reading (and the hundred or so books I randomly pulled from the shelves of my university library) do this. Unless you can find at least two counter examples, that is representative enough for me.
    – user5645
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 12:12

As mentioned before, you need to follow your publisher's guidelines, if there are any that cover this situation. If it's up to the author, I personally prefer to have something written on the page, even if it's just the page number. That way, it's clear that the page wasn't accidentally skipped during printing. Some publishers even require something like "This page intentionally left blank", to make it clear that you're not missing something. I once bought a reference book where a whole bunch of (non-contiguous) pages were blank due to a printing error. From the context, it was clear that something was missing, but it may not always be so.

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