Running title

The Running Title refers to the line of type at the top of the page in a text. Glaister defined it as “A line of type and quads set in the margin above the text area of a page. It may give the book title, chapter title, subject of a page or the page number” (1995). The Running Title may also be referred to as a Headline, Running Head or Page Head. Practice varies but often the book title is on the left-hand page openings with chapter title opposite. In books where detailed guidance can be useful, the chapter title may be given on even numbered pages with brief reference to page subject opposite (Glaister). With the said, the function of the Running Title may vary in different texts. Suarez and Woudhuysen wrote that in some texts, the Running Title remained unchanged throughout, while in other cases, the opposite occurred, with the Running Title indicating the specific contents of a given page.

The first example I have given acts in accordance with the definition given by Glaister as we see that the Running Title exists at the top of the page.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.1 shows the left hand page which gives the chapter title, while in Figure 1.2 we see the right hand page which indicates the subject matter of the page. The second example I have shown seems to deviate from the standard layout of a published book from the 18thcentury. As demonstrated in Figure 2, we see that there is no Running Title as such, but instead the page number is in the centre of the top of the page. In the outer margin, we see the chapter number, along with the time period which the text is discussing. While this could be understood to be a variation on the traditional Running Title as it essentially has the same function, it is more likely that this is a Shoulder Note. A Shoulder Note is defined as a “brief note printed in the top outer margin of a page, alongside the first line of text. It typically summarizes the page’s contents” (Suarez and Woudhuysen). We also see evidence of a shoulder note in Figure 1.2  in the outer right hand margin.

Figure 2

The Running Title can also act as an indicator to the way in which the page sheets were folded in the book, thus it can be said that it has an influence the way in which we perceive the text. Typically, the type for a book was set by hand by more than one compositor. Understandably, errors were often made by compositors when setting the type for the Running Title and thus, the errors made by one compositor may be repeated throughout the book. When this occurs, we are able to count the number of pages between each error, and establish the way in which the paper is folded and the text’s format.

Glaister, Geoffrey Ashall. Encyclopedia of the Book. 2nd ed. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2001.
Suarez, Michael F., and H. W. Woudhuysen. The Oxford Companion to the Book. Oxford: OUP, 2010.
Williamson, William Landram. ‘An Early Use of Running Title and Signature Evidence in Analytical Bibliography.’ The Library Quarterly , pp. 245-249 Chicago: CUP, 1970.

Almon, John. Anecdotes of the life of the Right Hon. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, and of the principal events of his time. With his speeches in Parliament, from the year 1736 to the year 1778. Dublin:  W. Porter for P. Wogan, 1792.
Chitty, Joseph. A Practical Treatise on Medical Jurisprudence. London: H. Butterworth, 1834.

Contributed by Maeve Lillis.

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