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Printing Terminology: Recto and Verso

An open book depicting the concept of verso and recto

Originating from Latin, Recto and Verso are terms used within the printing and publishing industries to indicate the relative placement of content on a sheet.

What does Recto mean?

Recto translates to "rightly" or "straight on." It refers to content that is printed on the face, or front side, of a sheet. On a two-sided sheet, Recto signifies which side is to be read or viewed first.

In the United States, where books are read from left to right, it is customary for page #1 of a book to display on the right side. Hence, page #1, which is to be read first, is on the Recto side. Subsequently, all odd numbered pages will also appear on the right, or Recto side, of an open book.

An illustration showing Verso to the left and Recto to the right

What does Verso mean?

Verso translates to "turn" or "on the other side." It refers to content that is printed on the reverse, or back side, of a two-sided sheet.

Basically, Verso signifies the side of a sheet that is to be read or viewed second (after the Recto side).

In regards to a printed book, once the content that appears on the Recto side of a sheet has been read, the sheet is turned to display its Verso side. Naturally, the Verso side will then appear on the left of the open book. Hence, page #2, which is to be read second, is on the Verso side. All even numbered pages within the book will also appear on the left, or Verso side.

It is important to mention that some languages of the world are written and read right to left. Not surprisingly, the Recto and Verso designations flip sides in books that are read from right to left. In these instances, Recto will refer to the left-sided pages and Verso will refer to the right-sided pages.

By the way, the Recto and Verso terms are not limited to describing the placement of content in bound books. Any sheet printed with text and/or artwork on both sides can be referred to as Recto/Verso.

Whatever your printing needs may be, Color Vision is ready to help! Give us a call at 800-543-6299 whenever you want to discuss a print project. Or, use our Quote Request form to submit your specifications and we will email you a quote. As always, we look forward to assisting you!

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