Quarto

Quarto (abbreviated Qto, 4to or ) is the format of a book or pamphlet produced from full sheets printed with eight pages of text, four to a side, then folded twice to produce four leaves. The leaves are then trimmed along the folds to produce eight book pages. Each printed page presents as one-fourth size of the full sheet.

Title page of the first quarto edition of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, 1600, from the Folger Shakespeare Library[1]
Quarto metrics compared to the folio and octavo.

The earliest known European printed book is a quarto, the Sibyllenbuch, believed to have been printed by Johannes Gutenberg in 1452–53, before the Gutenberg Bible, surviving only as a fragment. Quarto is also used as a general description of size of books that are about 12 inches (30 cm) tall, and as such does not necessarily indicate the actual printing format of the books, which may even be unknown as is the case for many modern books. These terms are discussed in greater detail in book sizes.


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