To the generally noted elements of margin and justification another 'dimension' has to be added. It is one both of time and space. It is the harmonious and logical handling of all the book's parts —headings, chapters, indentations, ornamental capitals, punctuation, illustrations and so on. Which means that to look at a book (let alone to read it) it is not enough to contemplate only the double-spread: you have to turn the pages.
The true unit of measurement for make-up is the double-page, which palaeographerscall thebifolium or diploma(andplain designersa double-spread).But thetask of thedesignerwasnot restricted,then as now,to balancingonedouble-spread.It was,asit still is, amatter of ordering aceremonialact—that of reading—of settingup amachine for reading,for study.Everythinghasto be arranged—nothing improvisedandnothing left to chance—for this ceremonyof 'work'. Judgementis involved throughout.In both manuscriptandprinted book there must be total concordance : in the choice of format and script or typeto suit thedignity of subject,author andreader,aswell as the circumstances in which the book will be bought, read, looked at, sungfrom, or consulted.Sucharetheonly true principleswhich guide the work of the designer and decide its worth. It would not really be possible to bring them down to formulas or recipes. They assume the existence of something quite other than purely calligraphic manual skill, and so it always has been and always will be.
Admittedly the successachieved by make-up, whether in present-day classical, Renaissance or medieval publishing, has always been considered greatest when it attracts the least attention to itself, when it is perfectly fit to its purpose, its public ... and the public's purse. This 'fact' obviously does not make the task of the researcher any easier. The perfection of so many (not all, far from it medieval manuscripts makes it impossible to doubt that they were written, not haphazard, but according to definite principles. Only specialists know about stichometry in antiquity, casting-off in modern practice, very much of the essenceof book-design. Very few, if any, written precepts, instructions, or indications have survived. The teaching in any case presupposed for its application traditions of culture and taste as much as of practice and skills. Is it surprising then that we should not find any express mention of the designer under such a designation ? As the traditions were very much living ones, one may assume that as often as not the copyist and the designer were not differentiated. In the workshops or scriptoria, it was doubtless the most skilled of the copyists who divided out the work among the novices, giving detailed instructions for each particular task. Even today such instructions are quite often lost without trace —in the printshop, among the correctors, or by the author or designer. How then can one expect to find them for centuries-old manuscripts ? If any remain, they are very rare and they tend to be quires where the ruling has not all been covered with writing. So they do not tell us very much more than finished manuscripts, on which also the marks of pricking and ruling may still remain visible.