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In bookmaking, in a left-to-right-reading language such as English, the terms rēctō (folium rēctum) and versō (folium versum) are used to differentiate the right-hand and left-hand pages of an open book.

Text on the rēctō page is typically shifted slightly to the left (toward the spine) and text on the versō page is typically shifted slightly to the right (again, toward the spine). Also, page numbers are often placed in one corner or the other, rather than centered.

But what about when a book is typeset with all pages centered, with the intention of it being published for single-page-at-a-time reading? Is there a word for that?

I was thinking perhaps centrō (folium centrum), but unfortunately I am very much not well-versed in Latin.

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  • Perhaps "solo" ?
    – Ben Voigt
    Jun 13, 2022 at 21:45
  • @BenVoigt — Interesting! And apparently it's a Latin word: online-latin-dictionary.com/… Jun 14, 2022 at 2:24
  • Wrong word, you're looking for this one, an adjective meaning "unaccompanied". It becomes "soli" in the dative case where you're most likely using it, but does decline to "solo" in the ablative case.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jun 14, 2022 at 15:05
  • @BenVoigt — Interesting. So would it be (a) recto/verso/soli or (b) recto/verso/solo? Jun 14, 2022 at 20:54
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    The base form (nominative) of these words is "rectus", "versus", "solus"
    – Ben Voigt
    Jun 15, 2022 at 20:53

2 Answers 2

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To begin with, centro isn't an adjective in Latin, so it can't be used in the same way as recto and verso.

I believe that in a document of the type that you're describing, all pages would be said to be recto pages.

For confirmation, I consulted Robert Bringhurst, The elements of typographic style. On p 74 (of the 4.0 version), Bringhurst describes recto and verso in terms that are as much functional as purely physical:

In right-reading scripts..., the forward or recto page is the right-hand half of the two-page spread: the page that invites you to read and turn it. The facing page is the verso: the door you have come through, the page you have already turned. you can indeed go backward...but the natural flow is from what you have read to what you have not. In leftward-reading scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew, this implicit invitation runs the other way: the forward page, the recto, is on the left.

To a bibliographer, the recto page, whether left or right, is the front and the verso the back of the leaf. To a typographer, as to a reader, the recto is a place to start.

The page, and chapter, then ends with a parenthetical paragraph that most directly applies to your case:

(E-books, you will notice, consist of rectos only....)

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    @SebastianKoppehel: Just in case you're being serious: It is very common for rightward-reading books to start on the right page. The inside title is on the right page, chapter titles (or story titles, in the case of anthologies) will be on the right page, story titles (e.g., in anythologies) tend to be on right pages, etc. This means either leaving a page blank or intentionally tweaking chapter length so that things line up to end on the left page. In my reference books, all the chapters start on odd-numbered (i.e., right) pages.
    – Brian
    Jun 13, 2022 at 18:14
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    @ToddLehman. Why not just folio? Recto and verso are added for differentiation; if such differentiation isn't required, neither are the adjectives. Though someone could likely coin a Latin phrase for 'the only side of the paper', that phrase, unlike recto/verso, would have no force of tradition behind it (plus, though Latin in origin, recto and verso have become adopted as English words); so, absent an established Latin term for what you want, and assuming that your system won't be used solely by Latin speakers, why bother? Why not just say something like 'single-page' or 'undifferentiated'?
    – cnread
    Jun 13, 2022 at 21:15
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    (The issue with using just 'folio' would be that the word 'folio' is traditionally used by typographers to refer to page numbers; but I don't think most people are aware of this technical use of the term.)
    – cnread
    Jun 13, 2022 at 21:18
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    @Unbrutal_Russian: I think the point is that the alignment of page content is determined by the placement of the book binding -- online there is no binding, so the placement is different from either a bound left (rear-facing) leaf or a bound right (front-facing) leaf.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jun 14, 2022 at 21:49
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    @ToddLehman So you still have page alignment separately from page presentation, only you happen to make one dependent on the other. If your medium has no front and back sides, then as I say, using these concepts as roundabout ways to get at page alignment seems at best like unnecessary mystification. More importantly, there's no third, neither-nor term to use for the center alignment in a roundabout way, since the physical reality of print books has no space for it. Therefore my suggestion remains to use the straightforward aligment terms "left", "right" and "center". Jun 15, 2022 at 21:59
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I don't know if it's been suggested anywhere official (so I'd defer to cnread's source), but the first word I thought of that fit what you're looking for ("single-page-at-a-time reading") is actually singularis. From Lewis and Short:

In gen., one by one, one at a time, alone, single, solitary

As an adjective with folium, you'd use the form singulare; as an adverb you'd use singulariter ("one by one, singly, separately"); and with the ablative folio you'd use the form singulari.

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