When a compositor commences a work, or joins a companionship, it is necessary that he cut a gauge to the length of a regular page of his work; to do this he should take a page without any chapter head lines, of the regular number of lines, and cut his gauge to the exact length, including the head and the direction line; a piece of great primer reglet is a convenient thickness, and marking the name of the work on it may prevent errors. Many compositors mark the length of the page upon a piece of furniture, and make it answer for two, three, or four works; but I have known mistakes occur in making-up, from adopting this method, that have caused a great deal of trouble in remaking up the succeeding pages.
In works that are printed with large letter, and have many head lines in the pages, and much white between the lines, I would advise a gauge to be cut on which the situation of each line should be marked; this will enable the compositor to make up his pages, so that, when the sheet is worked off, line shall fall upon line, which will add a beauty to his work, and save a great deal of trouble, by rendering unnecessary any alteration of the whites.
After the first sheet of a work has been imposed, and the margin made right by the person who has the superintendence of this department, a gauge should be cut to the exact width of the back, and another to that of the head; a piece of thin reglet being used for each, marked with the name of the work, and with the words, “back,” and “head;” a hole may be made in each piece that they may be tied together, so as to hang them upon a nail driven into some part of the frame; and a fresh sheet should never be imposed without trying the margin before it is locked-up. I am aware this is being more particular than is the general custom; but, if a compositor adopt the method, he will find that it will not take more than a minute of additional time, and will eventually be a saving by preventing mistakes, and he will thus send each sheet to press in a workmanlike manner.
The pressmen require a gauge in all folio works, in order to keep the head lines of the pages of each sheet precisely at the same distance from the edge of the paper. This head margin is determined by the overseer, or master printer, when the first sheet goes to press; the pressman should then cut his gauge, mark it with the name of the work, and keep it in some secure place, to lay the succeeding sheets on by, so that the work may have a uniform head margin, which, as the bookbinder always makes the head lines range, will prevent the book being reduced in size by cutting, an object of serious consideration in a library.