Printing quartos in Shakespeare’s time
For many early modern authors and printers, a sheet of paper was both a unit of production and a conceptual limit. Now, we often use page length or even word count as a way to describe the limits of a written text. For early moderns, the sheet was the equivalent measure—even though multiple pages might be printed on one sheet of paper. For instance, an author might say he or she had written ‘one sheet’ on a particular subject. Or a printer would calculate the cost of a job by the number of sheets of paper needed.
Download a practice early modern folding sheet with explanations of formats and bibliographical terms
Download a sample sheet with the layout of page numbers overlaying a quarto format
Download Q2 Hamletwith its own instructional guide
These PDFs are sized for standard 8 ½ by 11 inch paper. The size of a sheet of early modern paper varied, but as a point of reference, the University of Iowa's Center for the Book sizes its handmade paper at 12 x 18. So, at 8 ½ x 11, you will be working at a reduction of approximately 50%.
The PDFs are designed to be printed double sided, with ‘flip on short side’ selected. You will want to experiment with your own printer's requirements for double-sided printing for best results. If you want to experiment with something closer to the original size, you might play with “fit to size” printer options on 11 x 14 inch paper.
Kastan, David Scott. Shakespeare and the Book. Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Pratt, Aaron T., “Stab-Stitching and the status of early English playbooks as literature,” The Library, 7th series, vol. 16 (Sept. 2015), 304-28.
Werstine, Paul. “The Textual Mystery of Hamlet.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 1, 1988, pp. 1–26.
Chancery Papermaking at the University of Iowa's Center for the Book (video)
About DIY Quarto