"page-turn text"?

samuel_b's picture

Some older texts print at the bottom right of a page the word that starts the next page. I am looking at a reproduction of a page from George Herbert's volume of poetry The Temple (the 1633 edition). At the bottom right corner of page 30 is the word "Then," sitting all by itself, and at the top of the next page is the line "Then let each houre."

Two questions:

1. Is there a technical name for this word at the bottom right corner?
2. Is this ever used in contemporary book design?

Don McCahill's picture

Cool, Joshua.

I've seen the catchword on older works. Was there ever use of several words ... could that be the source of the term catch phrase?

Joshua Langman's picture

The ever-helpful Online Etymology Dictionary traces "catch phrase" back to a political meaning of "catchword":


The interesting thing about catchwords is that they would often match the font and size of the word on the next page, within reason. So even at the bottom of a page of roman text, the catchword could be set in a large blackletter (perhaps even a second ink color) if it's the first word of a large blackletter heading on the next page. So the word actually matched very closely to how it appeared on the next page.

hrant's picture

I have to think that was simply an effort-saving thing:
I'm guessing they would grab the metal sorts from the
end of one page to reuse at the beginning of the next.


Joshua Langman's picture

Assuming the two pages weren't in the same lockup …

Té Rowan's picture

An effort-saving thing, I suppose, but for a public reader, I do believe.

samuel_b's picture

Thank you to everyone who responded. I take it that the answer to question 2—whether catchwords are ever used in contemporary book design—is no.

Joshua Langman's picture

Not unless the designer is being deliberately archaic.

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