When counting pages, do it the same way you’d count novel pages. Meaning each side of a sheet counts as a page. For example, open a book. Starts with page 1 on the right, flip sheet, page 2 on the left and 3 on the right, flip sheet, page 4 on the left and 5 on the right, flip.
For printing purposes, even if a page is blank, it still counts as a page when calculating your total page count.
During printing, your pages are printed on large sheets of paper that holds (depending on your book size) 8, 16 or 32 pages – all multiples of four. Below you can see this large sheet of paper, known as a parent sheet, with 8 pages printed on both sides, 16 total. After printing, these sheets are folded and inserted into your book as a whole unit. If your page count was not a multiple of four you would be left with blank pages throughout your book. For a more indepth explanation of how pages are printed on a parent sheet, visit our academy resources.
In your finished product, each set of four pages is actually made up of one folded piece of paper. It’s physically impossible to have a saddle stitched book with 15 pages, since if you add one folded piece of paper to a 12-page booklet, it will become a 16-page booklet.
The muliple of four rule only applies to saddle stitched, perfect (softcover), and case bound books.
The only exceptions are wire bound projects, spiral bound projects, and board books.
Because of the binding process, these types of specialty bindings don’t involve folded sheets. These bindings require page counts to be multiples of two, instead of multiples of four. Board book binding consist of printing 2-page spreads and glueing them to paper board. Spiral and wire binding are 2-page spreads that are cut and drilled before being bound by spiral or wire.
Depending on your binding type and your inside paper weight, there may be a minimum and maximum page count.
For example, a saddle-stitched document using 85lb text paper can contain a maximum of 44 inside pages. If you were to add more pages, the staples used in saddle stitching may not be able to hold the books properly.
However, if you select a thinner paper such as 70lb text, your maximum page count increases to 68 pages.
Perfect bound documents always have a minimum page count (which varies based on your inside paper weight), since they need to be thick enough to accommodate a spine.
As you can see, changing binding types and inside paper weight are the two factors that will directly affect your minimum and maximum page counts.